January 14, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Branding is a way to set the foundation for a positive business reputation. Learning how to develop and market your brand can help sustain your company and grow your audience so you can do bigger things in the future. On average, it takes five to seven impressions for people to remember your brand, so creating a branding plan can help make sure you execute certain steps to get as many people to notice your company as possible.
A branding plan is a document that lists the important aspects of your brand identity and how that affects the public perception of your company. It outlines your brand strategy and serves as the foundation and measurement for evaluating all marketing materials to see if they fit with the image you’re trying to make for your company. The branding plan includes not just the visual aspects of the brand like the logo and colors, but information like:
Yes, creating a brand that’s consistent, unique, and authentic can separate your business from its competitors. It gives customers a way to connect with your organization beyond the surface level, especially if your brand values align with their personal ones. There are three core components to address when developing a branding plan and strategy. They include:
Branding plans and business plans can work together to create a roadmap and outlook for your company, but they do have some differences. Branding is all about your company’s reputation, so a branding plan is more concerned with how the public perceives your company. It cares about your messages, your aesthetic visuals, and your company values.
These things also factor into the business plan, but that one has more data about what you may consider traditional aspects of company planning, such as financial information, overall company goals, and staffing or location concerns. It’s difficult to have one type of plan without the other. You need the business plan to make sure the things you need to do in your branding plan are workable. You need the branding plan to execute what you’ve set out in the business plan.
Branding isn’t a single strategy or plan that you can follow and automatically get results. It’s a series of deliberate choices you make to portray your company to the world, and it all depends on your unique company. It’s important to learn about different branding you could engage with to see which one fits your purposes best. You may even find that a combination of some of them may work for your unique purpose. Branding you can use includes:
You may use personal branding to market yourself. This is a popular choice for influencers, public speakers, or others who make their living from turning themselves or their skills into a service. Personal branding is then crafting your public persona for your services. Like other types of branding, it can include the visual aspects of choosing fonts, colors, and logos for your website and choosing ones that reflect who you are and what you do.
Similar to personal branding, product branding is marketing your product as unique from others in the market. Consider the potato chip aisle in the grocery store. Essentially, everything there is the same: fried snacks. So what influences your choice when shopping? Probably brand loyalty first, if you already have a favorite. But if they’re out of your favorite, how do you pick a substitute? This is where product branding works. Concepts like color psychology and consumer science may be helpful when engaging in product branding.
Unlike product branding, which focuses more on looks and what’s visually appealing to the customer, service branding may put more attention on what a brand can do for the customers. Take air-condition repair companies, for example. They all do the same thing and there are probably many of them in the same area.
So how do people choose? Usually by what extras or benefits they can get. This is where you focus on what makes your company different from others. Do you offer free estimates? Maybe you work off hours for people that can’t be home during the day. Highlight these attributes in your service branding.
This type of branding focuses on the aesthetics of a brick-and-mortar store. The key is the interior design of the building, from the layout, lighting, decor, music, and displays. The idea, especially for businesses with multiple locations, is to make every location look the same so you instantly know where you’re shopping or visiting when you step inside. This is popular for many retailers. For example, the preteen clothing store Limited Too used dim lighting, flowers, bold colors, and lots of glitter in its retail branding.
Image via Sourcing Journal
Geographic branding is important if you can tie your business or cause to a geographic location. Pittsburgh brands, for example, use this type of branding to the fullest. All the major sports teams use the colors black and gold, which people associate with the city. The local amusement park, Kennywood, also uses those colors in its logo. Steel and bridges are also two other popular branding concepts in the area. Geographic branding is important for tourism-type businesses and franchises that start in one location and expand to new ones.
Image via Kennywood
Corporate branding is marketing the organization itself as a commodity. This is popular for many business institutions, like marketing agencies or banks. It aims to share the most important information about the organization, such as the mission and values, price point, and exclusivity for those who use or partner with the group.
Use these steps to create and develop your company’s branding plan:
Knowing some essential information about your company, brand, and customers can help you create the most effective and targeted plan. These areas include:
Why does your business exist? What do you want people to know about your company and brand? How can your brand influence people’s lives or help them solve problems? Understanding why your brand exists and where it fits into the market can give you important information to influence all your marketing decisions.
What are the core values of your company? What adjectives or attributes do you want your audience to associate with it? You can identify these from your mission statement or other company documents, such as the employee handbook.
Who’s buying from or engaging with your company? Why do they come to you over the competition? What can you learn about them that can influence your branding and marketing decisions? Understanding the people that make up your target audience as a collective and as individuals can help you make branding decisions.
Customer personas or profiles are fictitious representations of potential customers, those most likely to buy from your brand. Companies create personas to get a better understanding of the individuals who seek their products and services, on a more specific level than general demographic reports provide. They often target the “ideal” customers for a brand. Information to collect about your general audience to develop personas includes:
It’s important to learn who you’re going up against in the market to understand how to make your brand different, why people want to come to you, and what you can stress to make them realize it even more. Things to consider when conducting a competitor analysis include:
Answering these questions can tell you more about the state of the market and where you can fit. It can also show areas of market need where you could insert your company to better help customers. If you’re looking for help with competitor analysis, consider the tool we’ve created at CopyPress just for this purpose.
A brand mission statement is a tagline that shares your brand values. It’s typically one sentence or not even a full sentence, but a catchy phrase. You can use the brand mission statement to help frame your branding strategy objectives. This type of mission statement may differ slightly from a company-wide mission statement. The brand statement may be shorter and may focus only on certain aspects of the company values that drive the brand reputation.
It typically summarizes the unique qualities you provide your customers and shares what your business is passionate about. The brand mission statement tells customers what they can trust about your company and what they can expect from it.
A value proposition focuses on the aspects of what makes your brand unique from the competition. It’s a brief description of the qualities that should make your products or services more appealing than others in the same market. It’s important not just to focus on what makes you different, but how those differences benefit your target audience and how the things you provide can improve people’s lives. For example, Target’s value proposition is in the company’s tagline: expect more, pay less. Customers can expect more products and selections from the store than competitors, but also find affordable prices.
Brand voice is the way your company communicates with its audience and the public. You can establish a brand voice by your word choices, tone, and messaging. Depending on your audience and the type of industry you’re in, you may use a professional, casual, playful, or helpful brand voice. The one you choose may dictate your messaging, such as advertising copy, or the way your representatives respond to comments on social media.
It’s important to keep your brand voice consistent across all channels and departments. This helps to make your company feel cohesive to customers, even if they’re dealing with many representatives while communicating with your business. Chick-Fil-A does this with their messaging. When you order, whether at the drive-thru or the counter, all employees welcome guests, thank them for their service, and respond with phrases like “my pleasure” no matter which location you visit.
Branding isn’t just in your words. It’s visual, too. Elements like typography, photography, colors, logos, or design cues help customers get used to and associate certain tangible objects and feelings with a brand. You use your brand’s visual identity across almost all your online and offline channels. Places that may feature these elements include:
Consider a store like Home Depot. You likely associate a square logo, the color orange, and a specific font with the brand. Well-established companies, like Home Depot, often have a brand book that sets specifications on how to keep the company’s visual identity consistent across channels. It may include things like the exact hex code shade for the brand color, specific font names, and the exact dimensions of a logo for use on different platforms.
If you need additional help to create your branding plan document, you may find inspiration from these sources with templates and examples:
A brand plan can help you develop an identity that tells customers exactly what they need to know about your company before they interact with your organization. Having one that you can follow and adjust as your brand grows over time gives you the tools necessary to show your best attributes to the public for years to come.
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