What is branding and where to even start? What makes a brand popular? How do we build a history with a brand, and how do people associate certain design elements with a specific brand?
Nike has its “swoosh” logo while McDonald’s has its golden arches. Coca-Cola is known for its distinct typography, while Mercedes-Benz’s star logo doesn’t need any introduction. Why are these brands so popular everywhere in the world?
We know all about these world-renowned icons because we have a history with these brands. We grew up knowing the brand, loving the brand – even buying or collecting their products.
Everything boils down to effective branding.
In marketing, branding is the emotional connection between customers and the business. We know how different brand elements elicit different emotions. Effective branding is all about the feelings you have to a certain brand, regardless of the emotion is bad or good.
Remember how your eyes would light up every time mom or dad comes home with a Happy Meal? Or how the sight of hi-cut Chucks take you back to your grunge phase back in high school?
That’s the power of effective branding. We buy or collect specific products from a brand because we feel a deep connection with the said brand. In short, we love what we feel most connected to. When done right, branding builds credibility and trust. It helps establish a strong relationship with customers.
There are many ways of building a connection with your clients using your brand identity. You can do it through creative visuals, typography, or a certain colour scheme. Whatever ways you’d like to define your brand and attract future clients, your branding elements must be consistent through all platforms. Otherwise, it will leave people confused.
Every marketing and branding strategy is driven by a goal, what’s yours? The first step in establishing a brand identity involves identifying your business goals, values, and personality. As yourself:
You have to know what your business could offer to people, so your marketing messages and branding aesthetic reflect your goals. Define the short and long-term goals of your business, so your target audience has a clear idea of your intention as a brand.
Your ideal client is your target audience. You cannot create an effective marketing campaign if you have no idea who to market your business to. You need to have a clear idea of who your ideal clients are, what are their pain points, and how to provide the very product or service they need.
To do this, you need to conduct in-depth market research. Start by identifying the demographics of your target audience, such as their gender, age, income bracket, and lifestyle. Then, dig deeper and focus on creating a buyer persona, the perfect client for your business. Your ideal client could be based on anyone – a friend, a previous client, even a made-up one.
Picture your ideal client in your mind, how would you talk to your brand to this person to establish a deep connection? If you are basing your ideal client on an old friend, how would you talk to this friend about your business? What’s the tone you’re using? What kinds of visuals would you use to catch the attention of your friend?
By creating an ideal client, you can customize your branding and marketing messages to a specific group of people. Through your messages and visuals, you’ll make these people feel seen and heard.
Your branding elements and marketing messages have to be customized to appeal to a specific group of people – your target audience. And to create marketing messages and visuals that connect with your ideal client, you need to define what kind of emotion you’d like your client to feel. Remember, every design element evokes certain emotions, and the stronger the emotion you can elicit among your target audience, the more connected they feel about the brand.
So ask yourself what kind of emotions your target audience should feel when:
Do you want to make your ideal client feel happy for solving all of his pain points? Do you want your ideal client to feel empowered or inspired after using your product or service? Do you support a cause and want others to support your brand too? Are your products designed to challenge your ideal client or improve his routine?
For instance, if you want people to buy the pieces of jewellery you sell, you can show pictures of your collection being worn by models in a day to day setup. Or, if you sell greeting cards, why not show families or friends looking happy while reading a greeting card received from a loved one?
By thinking about the base action that you’re trying to elicit in your target audience, you can create effective and compelling marketing messages and visuals.
There are many ways of expressing the emotions you’d like to evoke in your branding elements. You can apply these through:
Brand Colours: Study the psychology of colours to define the right colours that will inspire people to take action
Logos: Create a logo that people could associate with your brand
Typography: Your font choices should be aligned with the message you want to convey
Website Layout: Your website design should match the mood you’d like people to feel when interacting with it online
Imagery and videography: Use stock images to evoke the right emotions or set the mood.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality show through your branding and marketing messages because no one likes to engage with a faceless, emotionless robot. Most of us want to interact with real people because of our inherent need to be heard.
We often connect deeply to people who are just like us, real people with real problems. We want a brand that we could relate to, brands that know exactly what we are going through and what to do about it. Adding your personality into your branding gives a face to the brand. It also builds credibility and trust. Over time, you’ll gain customers who are loyal to your brand.
When it comes to adding your personality into your branding, focus on translating your traits or personal style into your colour scheme, visuals, and typography.
List down all your characteristics or personality traits that your ideal client could relate to. Think of the many ways of implementing these traits into your design. For instance, choose a colour scheme that reflects your personal style, pictures of interesting finds that you love, or using a handwritten font style to highlight your femininity.
The secret to successful branding is understanding what your target audience wants. You want your brand to be relatable, a brand that people feel a strong connection to. To do that, you have to paint a clear picture of your ideal client’s problem or challenge is and how to overcome it. Provide solutions, show what your business could do for them, and highlight your brand values.
The one thing that you should avoid is to please everyone. It’s impossible to please everyone, and it’s not sustainable either.
The truth is, not all people will accept your core values, and you’re not here to convince them otherwise. Your job is to appeal and establish a deep connection with a particular group of people. Stick to your core values because consistency builds trust and credibility in any industry.