"Branding is what people say about you when you're not in the room." Jeff Bezos, Founder, CEO, and President, Amazon Inc.
Indeed, branding is the art and science of creating the loyalists, who will not only swear by the brand but will take its narrative forward. The first step to create the pool of such loyalists is to establish a brand identity. An identity that is unmissable, unambiguous and has immediate connect with the audience. Here are the four steps on the journey to create a brand identity: -
1. Identify your target audience and your space in the market
The first step is to figure out where do your stand in the market, and what is the consumer’s response to what you have on offer. Once you have collected insights about this, repeat the same exercise from competition’s point of view. Understand their messaging, product offerings, marketing touchpoints and business initiatives. This will help you define how you would want to distinguish your brand while staying true to who you are.
2. Define your brand purpose and relevance
Every brand cannot cater to the needs of every individual. Hence, find what your company is most passionate about? Why does it even exist? What causes do you stand for? In short, what is your brand story?
This brand purpose and story drives any and all things that the company does. Every action that the business takes should reflect this purpose and be part of a uniform story.
To further break down the brand purpose, you can look at these below elements: -
o Brand essence – What defines your brand
o Vision –Why does your brand exist?
o Mission –How do you plan to bring your vision to life?
o Values –What keeps you chasing your vision?
o Brand voice – If the brand were to be a person, what would he sound like? How would it communicate to his friends and family?
3. Choose a business name
Like every human being, a brand also needs a name. Everything is in name- until you are a Mastercard or a Starbucks who can afford to completely leave out their name in their brand identity and yet have loyalists. The brand name should define who you are- Read- your first identifier.
Here are some quick ways to find a brand name:
• Make up a word – Microsoft
• Use an unrelated word – Visa (nothing to do with foreign travel); Pears (nothing to do with the fruit)
• Describe it literally –The Body Shop (tells what you can expect to buy at the store)
• Bring two words together- Facebook (Face + Book)
• Use acronym –IIT (Indian Institute of Technology)
• Choose a place –Amazon (the largest river in the world by volume of water)
• Alter an existing word- Flickr (removed the letter ‘e’)
• Your own name– Chanel (named after the founder Coco Chanel)
4. Add a tagline
It’s a great opportunity to put brand’s mission, vision, and story into less than 5 words. Yes, you have to write a short, quirky, and effective tagline that connects with all the target audience and gets imprinted into their memory. Also, taglines are not forever. As your brand narrative evolves, the tagline can take interesting twists, turns, and perhaps new births. Or perhaps, stick to the same line forever if it works!
Here are a few approaches:
• Use a metaphor — Amul (The taste of India)
• Make a claim — Gillette (The best a man can get)
• Give a life tip—Apple – “Think Different”
• Strike an emotional chord- De Beers (Diamonds are forever)
Once the brand identity is ready, it is important to test it in the market and gauze the audience response. After all, the brand exists for them. Another key is to keep the brand identity fluid so that it stays relevant. Brands that have endured the market changes over decades have gone through several changes to their identity. Consider the changes that Microsoft, Intel, or IBM’s tagline have seen. Thus, marketers should also be keen to grab the market pulse go keep the brand going.
Written by Hiren Panchal, Co-Founder Litmus Branding.Hiren has a strong, multi-faced experience of 22 years in branding, advertising and project management.