Brand strategy: What is your brand all about?

If we’re going to talk candidly about brand strategy, let’s get the bad news out of the way first. It isn’t actually you, or even professionals like us, who get to create your brand. In fact, that job falls to everyone else, at least according to one of the leading marketing experts of our time, David Ogilvy, who explains: ‘Your brand is basically a person’s perception of your product, service experience or organisation.’

And now for the good news. The key word in that quote is ‘perception’ and that’s where we can get to work. How? By identifying what your business stands for, and how you want people to perceive you, we can then use various methods to shape the way that translates into a user experience, which over time will influence how your brand is viewed.

What, then, is a brand?

Think about Tesco. What makes their brand? Is it the familiar blue and white logo? Is it the range of products they sell? The free fruit they offer to children? Is it their ‘Every Little Helps’ tagline? Is it the way each store looks the same, no matter where in the country they are?

Actually, their brand is all of these things, and neither. But all these factors, and many more little details, like the colour scheme they use, and the way their delivery drivers dress and interact with customers, all play a part in shaping the image and personality Tesco wish to portray to the world. Every little detail helps people form a picture in their mind of what Tesco is about.

What about your brand?

Think about your internal culture, your pricing, how you communicate with your customers, how you treat people, how your staff dress. Just like Tesco, or any other well known brand, all these things have the potential to impact on how people perceive you. So too does the layout of your showroom, the look and feel of your website, and the tone of voice you use on your social media and advertising materials.

Human nature means that people will form an idea of what they assume you’re all about, what you stand for, and whether they want to be involved with your business from all this information and more. So what can you do to help shape the way they perceive you?

Tone of voice. This is how you express the personality of your brand through your written materials, such as advertising, social media posts and even internal documents. Finding the right tone of voice comes down to understanding what values you want your business to have, and working from there. Are you friendly? Practical? Knowledgeable? Irreverent or serious? Maybe you’re a bit of each. Knowing what kind of personality you want to get across in your advertising is the first step to defining your brand.

…and don’t forget about font. Because a font can communicate a lot about your personality. Accessible? Professional? Sleek? There’s a font out there that can add that extra dimension to your tone of voice.

Credibility comes from consistency. From the messages you deliver in your advertising to the way you deal with your customers, consistency is key. People want to be reassured that they can trust you to deliver the same level of service every time they give you their money, and consistency on all levels reassures them this is the case.

Logo. Everyone knows what those golden arches mean when they’re looking for a Motorway service station. That iconic symbol lets everyone know there’s a McDonalds, and because the logo is so well known, they don’t even need to see the word McDonalds. Every brand needs a logo, which can be as simple as the name of your company, at least until you reach the level of cultural saturation McDonalds has achieved. Keep it simple, and make sure its clear and easy to understand. Remember, it will appear everywhere from company vehicles to letterheads, so make sure it looks professional.

Colours. Colour choice is more important than you think. Blue, for example, is often thought of as an intellectual colour, that suggests expertise and high-tech design. It fits Facebook just as well as the NHS. So get your mood board out, and start thinking about which colours might fit your business. You might even want two colours. And make sure to check out your competitors, and avoid using the same colours as them.

Customer Experience. We’ve talked about colours, logos, tone of voice and even font, and these are all great tools for establishing what your brand is about, but to really define your brand, you have to dig deeper. You need to have the right people on your team, delivering excellent customer experience that underpins your brand values and your customers’ perception.

And this raises the fundamental internal commuications and culture challenge – your team needs to understand what your brand is about. Some organisations have a brand book, which lays out the values of their company. If you can establish your values, you can find people who understand them, and share them. And when you find people who can get behind your brand, then encourage and invest in them. Make sure your company values and rewards things that your staff do that live your values and provide the correct customer experience.

Think about the AA. People may be familiar with the colour of their vehicles, and think they understand what their brand is about. But nothing is going to work better than the AA mechanic who can arrive at your breakdown, and provide the calm, courteous and expert service the AA promise in their adverts.

Whether you want to rebrand or tighten up your current branding, The Bridge Marketing team can get under the bonnet of your brand strategy and put you on the road to success.