You have a clear idea of why your business exists — what you have to offer and what makes you different from the competition. Branding is how you share this vision with your audience — demonstrating your mission and explaining why people should buy your products.
Branding is essential to success for online businesses — especially merchants in crowded niches where standing out from the competition is required to secure new customers.
While each company has its own story and needs, all branding strategies have a few things in common. A brand with these five characteristics is likely to be successful.
The best brand planners always have a plan. They’re willing to think in the long-term and consider how their brand may need to change in response to growth, new business plans or different market conditions.
Having an effective brand plan can help you keep your branding consistent, prepare you for changes in the market and also provide a framework for your advertising and marketing strategies.
Planning is also essential for increasing your brand exposure. Integrating your brand with your marketing and advertising strategies will help your brand to reach more customers.
Branding typically requires communicating to different audiences across different mediums. Many audience members, as a result, may You may need be coordinating a new email campaign in the morning and thinking about your PPC strategy in the evening.
Across all of these channels and marketing campaigns, your branding needs to be consistent. Consistent branding is both more memorable and better at communicating your message. When you can keep all the elements of your brand consistent — including color, voice, vocabulary choice and use of graphic design — customers are much more likely to become familiar with your brand and its values.
When reviewing branding materials, take a look at your logo, graphic design elements and color choices. If you notice a lot of variation across different materials, it could be a sign that you need to revamp your branding with consistency in mind.
For a brand to be successful, it needs to stand apart from the competition. A distinctive brand offers something that the other businesses in its niche and uses branding elements — like logo, voice, color and graphic design — to make itself both recognizable and different.
Images and design can also have a big impact on whether or not customers buy a product. In research on gift cards, roughly 69% of customers reported that the right image or design would influence their decision to purchase.
A distinctive brand may also be described as having personality or being especially memorable.
There are many ways to make a brand distinct. Often, distinctiveness is related to other important brand characteristics, like values and mission. Brands can feel more memorable when design elements line up with stated values to build brand identity.
Knowing what makes your brand stand out — or what you think is unique about your business — and emphasizing these characteristics can also help you create a more distinct brand.
The competition can also be a source of inspiration. Identifying what other brands in your niche do well can help you figure out what you may be able to do better. Copying another brand or following a competitor’s branding strategy too closely isn’t a good idea, but researching the competition can clue you into market trends that you may have missed.
It is important not to prioritize uniqueness at the expense of branding elements that just work. Often, effective design that is not too memorable can support more distinctive brand elements, making them even better at grabbing the attention of potential customers.
4. Leadership (or a Mission)
What does your brand stand for?
More and more often, customers aren’t just looking for a brand that can offer quality products. They also want to feel like they’re making a difference when they choose where to shop. A growing number of millennials and Gen Z shoppers, for example, are willing to pay a significant premium to buy products from sustainable or eco-minded brands.
Most business owners found their business because they wanted to make a difference or provide something that other businesses weren’t offering. This may be sustainable goods, above-and-beyond customer service or traceability and transparency.
Brand values can be a powerful tool in making your business both more distinctive and more appealing to customers. A good branding strategy is as effective at communicating brand values as it is at making a business more distinctive.
5. Audience Focus
Most importantly, an effective branding strategy never leaves the business’s customers behind. To build a successful brand, you’ll need in-depth audience knowledge and a serious understanding of why people choose your business.
Market research will be crucial. Knowing what your audience is interested in will help you better plan content, identify the right keywords and develop more effective marketing personas. When communicating, research will also help you build stronger connections between your brand and your audience.
How to Know if Your Brand Will Be Successful
While every brand is going to be different, most successful brands have these five characteristics in common.
An effective brand plan helps to keep the company’s branding efforts on track and in line with marketing or advertising. This helps ensure that the brand is consistent.
The plan should also consider what makes the brand distinct, as well as the business’s core values.
An understanding of your audience will help you tie all of these elements together into a cohesive and recognizable brand.
Eleanor is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the director at a marketing firm prior to becoming a freelance web designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and dog, Bear.