Creating a unified brand is the ultimate goal for a marketing team. Whether through web design or advertising, a unified brand is something we’re always striving towards. The growth of the internet has made this process both simpler and more difficult at the same time. With these advancements in technology, we can get in front of customers with a unified brand experience via the internet. However, it takes time and resources to get communications right across each platform.
These days, many businesses have a complete disconnect between departments, causing issues with branding for consumers. If departments are pulling in different directions, there’s no way the end result will be unified. In this guide, we want to highlight the importance of branding as well as the importance of unifying the brand experience.
Branding is the way that your business is perceived by consumers in the market. We do not have direct control over branding, it’s more something that we influence. Some companies influence branding by evoking feelings of quality and positive customer service, while others aim for reliability and history.
Brand identity allows customers to understand your company, see what you provide, understanding the reliability and trustworthy nature of the brand, and more just by looking at your logo. With this in mind, it’s not something we can generate overnight. As an example, we see the McDonald’s logo, and all sorts of thoughts and images spring to mind. Although it seems unlikely now, there were days when the big ‘M’ was unknown, and the company had to work hard to make it a household image.
There’s a common misconception that brand identity and promotion is only available to the largest companies. In truth, businesses of all sizes can build a brand and grow a customer base in this way. Even if you’re a new startup, branding will set you apart from the competition and give consumers a reason to choose your service over all the others. Branding is important for the following reasons:
Firstly, branding allows consumers to understand the story of a brand. Who are you? What story do you want to portray to consumers? Some companies like to put up a formal front while others go for a fun approach, which can be reflected in their social media activities. We can tell our story through use of the logo, promotional content, social media activity, voice, personality, and more.
The reason we like McDonald’s is that it has been consistent over the years. We’re familiar with the brand, which means we know exactly what we’re going to get. If a new fast-food chain were to launch with a big ’N’ outside its store, it wouldn’t get any trust because consumers do not have any familiarity with that brand.
We’re not sponsored by McDonald’s, but this is one of the biggest examples in the Western world currently. Other familiar examples include Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, and Visa. These are names that we all use or love, and this is partly down to the unified brand experience they offer.
The more memorable our brand is, the more likely consumers are to share positive experiences. Word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of marketing because it’s free and generated by our own customers. If you have a unified brand experience, customers will share information with friends, talk on social media, and reach areas of the market you can’t reach alone.
Lastly, the very best brands can connect with customers by evoking emotion. Branding is all about creating a connection and getting people to feel something positive when the name is mentioned, or the logo is seen. For example, it could be happiness, excitement, tranquility, or comfort. One of the best examples of brand connection is Disney. Speak to any Disney fan about the brand and they will feel magical and excited instantly. Disney’s brand connection is so powerful that the brand has built several theme parks and attractions where fans can gather and enjoy the company together.
We know the importance of branding, but now it’s time to go one step further and assess why a unified brand experience is critical for success. As a business, you will never be able to appease every single customer. If you’re still trying, it’s time to focus on one market and become an expert in that field. By doing this, it’s easier to think of a value proposition, a mission statement, and to advertise.
Once in this position, you need to ensure that all marketing materials are consistent. Brands are visible in physical locations, on websites, social media, company vehicles, pamphlets and other marketing materials. When you think of Starbucks, one of the first things that come to mind is the color green. Why? Because the company uses this color at every opportunity. You would never see Starbucks suddenly using a red delivery truck just like you wouldn’t see McDonald’s with purple branding.
We associate certain brands with colors because they use these colors at every consumer touchpoint. As a business, you need to do the same. Whenever a customer comes into contact with the company, they need to see the consistent coloring and logo design to create consistency and familiarity. In many cases, a unified brand experience also brings security. When inconsistencies appear, so do the doubts in your customers. Consistency brings trust and credibility, so think about your brand identity and stick with it.
We know that some business owners will worry about choosing the ‘wrong’ logo or color. When choosing a brand identity, remember that sometimes the simplest designs are the best. For example, we all know the Nike tick (swoosh). However, you may not know that the designer created this design for just $35 (don’t worry, she eventually got stocks in the company and was rewarded with a party in her name). This shows that you don’t need to pay thousands or get an extravagant logo.
The color you pick should actually reflect the mission statement and the type of service you offer. Do you want to evoke feelings of calmness or do you want to energize? For instance, a new gym or exercise company will choose different colors compared to a mattress provider. When choosing a logo and color, ensure that they contribute to the message you want to send to consumers.
For those that have been in business for some time, you might consider rebranding. Ultimately, whether or not you should rebrand comes down to the risks involved in the process. How is your brand perceived at the moment? If the company lacks consistency and struggles for attention, the risks of rebranding are low. If you’re an established brand, there’s a danger you will alienate and lose customers after a rebranding.
When using social media your profile pictures, banners, and other graphics should contain your own logo and colors. This will resonate with the customers because they see the same colors on social media as they do on your website, vehicles, physical store, etc.
With regards to content, use a voice and personality that fits in with the rest of the brand. It’s not just logos and colors that need to be consistent, it’s your voice too. Take the time to understand your audience and then create content that resonates with them. If you’re serious on one platform and telling jokes on another, it will only confuse the audience. Think about the customers' struggles and position your business as the solution to these problems.
The best way to be congruent with branding and the brand experience is to see your business as a living organism. This isn’t just a marketing technique, it’s the way your business should operate in the market. Allow your business to have a personality and character. When you consider this as a permanent change, it’s easier to use the same voice, logo, colors, and more in all communications.
With a unified brand experience, customers perceive your brand the way you desire, and you build connections. Over time, the brand will have familiarity and credibility in the market.
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