Building a Brand Identity

“Branding”…sounds like something you would consider addressing when you’re at the stature and recognition of the likes of Apple, Target, Amazon and others. The truth is that those companies have grown partly because of branding from the very beginning. I have spent many years of my life helping organizations and small businesses develop themselves. You normally start with a strategy to know your audience (we’ll go into more of that later in this blog). You then look at the defining principles you will operate under. What will “drive” your business. These are the things that take priority when measuring your time, energy and money investments. Believe me, if you’re saying “I just want to open a small business, I don’t need all that”, I would respond with because of the overwhelming amount of competition and alternatives your audience has at hand, you won’t be able to survive outside the circle of your supporting friends without these things in the long-term. Therefore, there has to be something that makes you different, unique or as we put it in the business – adds perceived value.

Perceived value goes beyond what your friends think about your organization and enters deep into what your external audience associates you with. I maintain an organization will survive as long as their perceived value last. Value is the amount of money, time and energy units a particular person or group is willing to place in a particular product or service. This is why it is important to know your audience well. Building value derives from the principle of knowing “what your audience eats for breakfast”. What time do they get up and go to sleep? Do they have or want kids? Where do they spend most of their time and how do they use it? What are their goals for the future?  What is important to them? Once you have this information, you will be more effective in relating your product or service to your audience because your message will be targeted into improving and/or adding positive benefits to what they value. Once this perceived value is built with your audience you yield several benefits. It will build audience confidence in your brand, increase the switching cost where your audience will not want to leave you because of the trust built with your organization and finally make your audience accept new products and services more easily.

By definition branding is the associated value conveyed to an audience triggered by a particular organization’s name, logo, overall look and vision. It is very much like an advanced game of flash cards when you were in elementary school. You saw a picture of an apple and then you saw the word “apple” and someone had you repeat it until all you had to do is see an apple and you knew how to say it, what it was for and likely even how it tasted. This is where I will say that if your audience can’t look at you visually and immediately associate you with a feeling, emotion or value, they are more likely to seek out the best alternative to their needs. That often means your competition or utilizing their time and money for other things they find value in.

Branding is intentional and about your audience relating to you. A successful brand connects its product or service with its audience. When you build your brand it starts with building organizational culture that matches your audiences lifestyle: values, norms, jargon, overall look and name.  Values are things your audience finds important like: the environment, family, self improvement, personal time, work time, education, friends, safety, financial status among others. Norms are learned behaviors that have become part of your audiences lives because they are done on a regular basis. Jargon are words we associate with the brand. Some examples are “Mc” with anything at McDonald’s; or the “Venti”, “Grande”, “Tall” options at Starbucks. Studies show that 85% of communication occurs in the visual senses therefore, your overall look will be the trigger medium that brings all these other elements together. Whether contemporary, vintage, minimalistic, you still want to deliver your message in a package that always reminds the audience its you.

Finally, your goal is to connect your value and message with your audience. Whether you are a small pizza place, a large not-for-profit or a medium-sized agency, you benefit from your audience being reminded of how what they value, matches what you offer. Branding can effectively assist in building the trust that will increase participation and revenue because of the attributed value.