As awesome, fantabulous business owners, we know the importance of having a strong, robust brand. A brand that goes WAY beyond a stand-out logo, catchy tagline and fab colour scheme (even though here at Long Story Short Design we LOVE to create and design these elements!).
But what does a strong, robust brand really look like? How do you know if your brand is as powerful and effective as you’d like it to be?
Think of your brand as a deliciously scrumptious cake. The logo, colour scheme and slogan are like the decorative icing. They are what catches the eye, gets the tastebuds excited and ultimately leads to sinking your teeth into the cake (or at least thinking about it!).
Yet the icing alone is not enough to make a whole cake, nor to leave a lasting impression on the cake-eater! There needs to be a solid base that contains key ingredients - eggs, flour, butter - that are mixed, baked and presented in the optimum way - with a full flavour! These things may seem rudimentary yet are crucial to the cake aka your brand’s success. Just like a well-made cake, your brand needs to have a strong foundation, to last the distance and outshine the competition.
Wondering if your brand is as strong and full-flavoured as it can be? Check out these five essential brand ingredients...
Identifying your target audience is a simple yet key component of a strong brand. People need to feel connected to your brand before they truly commit and choose you over a competitor. They want to feel good when they buy your product! Understanding their behaviours, characteristics and desires helps you to form a brand identity that will resonate with them consistently so that they keep coming back to you.
Remember: no people, no brand. You need to know your customer inside out. Conduct interviews, consult market research and use tools like Google Analytics to find out the specifics such as their age, where they live, their salary, social media behaviour and even as far as where they go for holiday and what they’d pay for coffee! Get to know your current consumer base and why they buy from you over the competition. The better you understand your audience, the better you can align your brand communications and increase your sales.
Your Brand Personality
Light-hearted and creative? Professional and sophisticated? Risk-taking and innovative? Just as you may describe a person using these adjectives, your brand deserves the same kind of ‘attention’. Imagine that your brand is a person. What is their aesthetic style? What is their tone of voice? What kind of ‘friends’ aka customers do they have? What are their hopes and dreams?
Write down everything you know about your brand personality. Get clear on these characteristics and make sure that they are in line with the target audience you wish to attract and keep. If you know your audience, you will choose the right personality traits. Also, ensure that all of your communication platforms - your social media channels, blogs, website etc - consistently reflects these traits.
Clear Vision and Mission Statements
Why are these statements important? They communicate to your target market what you are doing today to make for a better tomorrow.
Your vision statement describes your ‘tomorrow’, and how much more fantastic your customers’ life can be, thanks to your amazing product! It is generally aspirational in tone, and paints a broader picture of how your product benefits your audiences’ quality of life
Your mission statement is what you are doing ‘today’ to bring your vision to life. These statements refer directly to your product and typically use more practical, functional language.
Need an example? Let’s use our cake analogy! Your vision is to bring culinary and sensory joy to your loved ones, and create a memorable experience. Your mission is to make an outstanding, delicious-tasting, beautifully presented cake, using only the best ingredients.
These statements are more than simply a feature on your website. They form the backbone of why your brand exists. Ensure that you fully understand and believe in your vision and mission. If not, take time to work on this!
Your Stand Out Quality
This is one of our favourite ingredients! What makes YOUR product stand out from the rest? Perhaps it is your innovative approach to your product line, or maybe it is your personable communication style. Or it could even be as simple as your free shipping policy or complimentary gift-wrapping service. Whatever your unique feature is, make sure you yourself are super clear on it, and that you subsequently emphasise it in your marketing communications.
Struggling to identify exactly what makes your product different (apart from the gorgeous brains and beauty behind the brand!)?
Try these two easy and fun steps:
Imagine you are your own customer - what makes you come back to buy your product? And what motivates you to actually buy your product in the first place? Using our delicious cake comparison once again - why do you buy cake in the first place? It isn’t simply to fill your stomach or curb hunger pangs. It is to enjoy a delicious sweet taste, to experience the varying textures and even share in the yummy experience with a friend over a coffee and chat!
Now think of a cake that you go back to buying again and again - why aren’t you trying other cakes? Maybe it’s because the cake store is 10 steps from your house. Or you enjoy chatting to the shop assistant. Or perhaps it’s because they use local eggs and flour to make their cake. You get the drift!
Your Customer Journey
Having a strong and defined brand customer journey is a key element to maintaining a strong brand. But what exactly is a customer journey and why is it important?
A customer journey can be described as the experience that your customer has when connecting and interacting with your brand. How do they encounter your brand personality? How do they learn about your vision and mission statements, your stand out qualities? What steps do your customers’ take to ultimately receive your product?
A great place to start is identifying the first point of contact that you make with your customers. If you are an online business, then it may be your website or your social media platforms. Or perhaps you make most of your sales via local markets or distributing stores that sell your product. Take some time to identify the key touch points for your customers’ journey, so you know how customers actually experience your brand versus how you think they do. By better understanding your customers, you can better deliver on their expectations.