When you think of the world’s biggest businesses, you may well first think of their logos. Just picture the Mcdonald’s Golden Arches, the Nike Swoosh, or the Amazon arrow, for example, and it’s easy to bring to mind these powerful and successful brands.
Logos and branding are entirely linked, but a company brand incorporates more than just the graphic. Brands encapsulate other intangible elements such as values, tone of voice, customer experience, sustainability, and reputation. Those businesses that invest in their brand development and then work hard to maintain it have a far better chance of remaining seen and relevant in the fast-paced modern world.
Why branding is more important than ever
Branding today is crucial for a number of reasons:
- Customers expect more than they have ever done before in history, driven by the internet which allows them to easily research competitors and access alternative products and services from other providers if necessary.
- Markets are more competitive and there are always new entrants coming online and seeking to gain market share.
- Markets are also changing and evolving at a dizzying pace, meaning that brands cannot simply rely on their reputation and existing brand equity. They must constantly invest in their branding efforts to stay relevant and to retain customers.
- Customers also expect brands to have strong values and to support the communities in which they operate with clear and consistent CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs. This means that brands cannot just rely on adverts and the quality of their core offer anymore. Customers want to see that they are ethical and sustainable and that they give back in some way. If not, they will switch their loyalty elsewhere.
How businesses can invest in their brands
Whether you are a profit-making business, a non-profit, or a third-sector organization, it is vital to invest in your brand. The first step lies in getting your brand logo and visuals organized. These are usually developed by a graphic designer and housed with all other visual elements, templates, and straplines in the company brand guidelines. As part of this work, the designer will establish rules for use, and create logo variations and other templates for the company’s consistent use.
Once the brand is in place, it can be replicated in all forms of advertising and marketing. For example, you can show branding via digital signs, through out of house advertising, via your printed materials, on your website, app, social media, and email marketing and through all direct events.
How to get the most from your branding
Here are some tips to maximize the success of your branding efforts:
1. Be consistent
A good brand is always a consistent brand. Create clear brand guidelines that define how your logo, messaging and visuals should be used, with a sign-off process so that your marketing team have the final say on the way that the brand is printed, published, or generally replicated. It’s also very important to crack down on counterfeiting or illegal use of your brand as this can devalue your brand equity and tarnish your reputation.
Companies with strong brands invest heavily in their marketing and always have a plan of tactical delivery that touches on digital, print, and in-person. A smaller budget needn’t be a barrier to getting your brand out there. Just be smart and targeted when engaging with your key audiences.
3. Be strategic
All good marketing tactical delivery starts with a clear strategic plan. Make sure you know exactly what the business plan is and then use this as your basis for creating an annual marketing strategy and delivery plan. This will maximize the use of your budget, ensure the best possible ROI, and structure the way that your marketing team and supporting resources are used for the best effect.
4. Measure and refine
Good marketing relies on measurement for ongoing management decision-making and campaign refinement. If you don’t measure your marketing activity, you cannot hope to know whether your brand is working and whether your marketing activity is successful. Invest in internal, industry, and competitive benchmarking, as well as historic comparative data and targets to assess your performance.
Together, these steps will help to ensure that your brand is developed, communicated, managed and protected in the right way – so your business can grow and enjoy sustained success.