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It’s time to start branding yourself or your company. But you’re not certain what the basics of branding are or how to put them all together. The good news is that the process doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to be a multinational corporation to be successful with branding.

Small businesses that understand the value of branding can reap the benefits too. This branding guide takes you through the process step by step with clear-cut examples of great branding to use as your road map.

What Is Branding?

Branding is a word that gets tossed around a lot in the marketing world, probably because it covers so much. Good branding is a mixture of:

  • Distinctive, easily identifiable logo design
  • A succinct, compelling brand message
  • Product and service qualities
  • Company values

It’s important to present a blend of these elements consistently wherever your brand appears.

Why Should You Focus on Branding?

Focus on branding so consumers know what your company stands for. With successful branding, consumers see your logo or another element of your visual identity. These include its distinctive packaging, signage, store design, color scheme and tagline. Consumers might also read or hear about your brand. When your branding is done well, buyers immediately associate your company with its most positive attributes, no matter what format they encounter it in.

The hallmarks of your product or service, like quality and the way your employees interact with customers, are other equally important aspects of branding. If, for example, your company is known for its stellar personalized service, that becomes part of your branding. Likewise, if your company gets a reputation for poor service, your branding suffers along with it. Your brand can even acquire punchline status — and you may have trouble distancing it from that reputation.

The Benefits of Focusing on Branding

Focusing on branding gives a sense of cohesion to your company and everything it produces. The right branding helps you reach the consumers who are most likely to buy your product because it checks all the important boxes for them. Effective branding grows brand awareness, loyalty, traffic, engagement and conversions. In doing so, you set your company apart from the competition.

Steps to Get Started With Building a Brand

To begin building your brand, carefully plan out your approach to the following steps.

Know Your Target Market

In order to build a brand, you first have to figure out who your target market or audience is. When you know the audience you’re targeting, you can better tailor your brand messaging to what your audience is looking for and what they value. Do the necessary research to get a good handle on the consumers you want to become your customers, and learn what appeals to them.

Create a Brand Message

Creating a brand message means using the right words that succinctly sum up what you want your brand to represent to consumers. This also displays what the brand represents internally — and in comparison to the competition. The Levi’s brand message “Quality never goes out of style” is an excellent example of a message that gives a brand’s value proposition in a nutshell.

Levi’s, over the years, developed a reputation for making durable, well-designed jeans that conveyed instant cool factor. The company’s brand message communicates all of that in just six words, and its red-and-white logo is simple and instantly recognizable. Keeping your branding simple and compelling makes it memorable for consumers.

Research Your Competitors

Researching competitors can help you tease out what separates you from them and makes you stand out. Those features should be incorporated into your brand message. For example, Subway’s “Eat Fresh” brand message automatically creates a comparison for consumers between the wholesomeness of the ingredients Subway uses and what other fast food chains use. Consider incorporating things the competition is doing right if it makes sense for your business.

Be Consistent and Pervasive

Your branding should be consistent no matter where consumers see it. They should see the same logo, color scheme and brand message, regardless of where it appears. That can range from your online advertising, website and social media content to your packaging, business cards, marketing collateral and TV advertising. If you’re working with influencers, make sure they represent the same values that your brand does.

Top Branding Examples

Plenty of successful businesses have scored big by getting branding right. Examples of companies with effective branding include the following heavy hitters.

Lego

The Danish toy company has a reputation for producing colorful, high-quality miniature plastic bricks. It also has a mission to inspire and develop children to be the builders of the future. This has helped establish Lego as a beloved, valuable toy brand — globally. Lego has expanded its product line substantially over the years and extended its branding to Lego movies. It accomplished this while sticking to the core principals of emphasizing quality and creativity and improving children’s lives.

Nike

Nike’s “Just Do It” brand message, also known as a tagline, and the familiar Swoosh logo are key elements of its branding. So is the brand name “Nike,” which is also the name of the Greek goddess of victory. All three branding elements encapsulate the brand’s philosophy and emphasis on fitness, an active lifestyle, inspiration and motivation.

Nike’s branding also resonates with its female market by encouraging women and girls to tap into their own power, strength and competitive spirit. Customers have an emotional reaction to the branding because it urges them to do and be better.

Starbucks

Starbucks’s green-and-white logo is instantly recognizable all over the globe. In fact, the logo is so well known that it no longer even includes the name “Starbucks” in its design. Starbucks stores all share a similar vibe, keeping the branding consistent whether they’re in Istanbul, Las Vegas, Beijing or London. The Starbucks Stories blog promotes Starbucks’s values, including social responsibility and ethical sourcing.

Apple

If you walk into practically any Starbucks, you’ll likely see another example of wildly successful branding from another company. That brand is Apple, and its laptops with the familiar fruit logo are found on desks around the world, not just at coffee shops. Even so, consumers might have also just used their iPhones to purchase their Starbucks coffees.

Since the company’s inception in the 1970s, Apple’s branding has centered on being an individual, and its image was long that of an upstart. Its branding has an emotional appeal that connects with the creative, independent spirit of many of its customers. To say that Apple’s branding is working is a huge understatement. In 2018, the brand became the first public American company to be valued at over $1 trillion.

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