Are you asking, “What is a brand image?” and wondering how to create one? Read this article to learn how to create a trustworthy brand.
We hear the word “brand” a lot. It’s one of those funny words that we think we understand until we try to explain it.
So what is a brand image and how does this tie into branding as a whole?
Most people describe a brand as a logo or company name but these things are only a part of what a brand really is (or should be).
Coke spends an average of $3.96 billion on branding each year, which tells us two things:
- Branding is more than a company name and logo
- Brading is extremely valuable to big businesses
This guide will explain exactly what brand image is and how to create your own for your business.
What is a Brand Image?
The best place to start is to stop thinking of a brand as a static image and instead think of it as a person. How do you create a holistic branding personality that will eventually meet your business’s needs?
The kind of personality your brand has depends on the following things.
Who your Audience is
There is a standard process for defining who your audience is that leads to everything else about your brand.
- What need does your product or service fill?
- Who has this need that you can fill?
- Where are they? Online and offline.
- How can you reach them?
- What else do you know about them?
Until you really understand who your ideal customers are it isn’t a good idea to start creating a brand identity. This is because every element of your brand is going to be based on who your customers are, what they need, and what makes their life easier.
The purpose of branding is to position your business as the answer to these things, so take the time to figure this out before you move forward.
Creating a Unique Value Proposition
Another thing to consider is what your unique value proposition is. Your unique value proposition is the thing that is unique about your business that sets you apart from all the rest.
Unique value is the main drawcard for your business and can be used as the basis of your whole brand image. You might be able to compete on price significantly more than your competitors or you might decide to go above and beyond with your customer service.
Deciding what makes you unique will help you put your best foot forward and narrow down your target audience.
Knowing your Purpose
It might sound obvious but knowing your purpose has a big impact on your branding. In today’s world, businesses are being pushed to show that they have a meaningful purpose that goes beyond their products.
When we think of Tesla we don’t just think of solar-powered cars, we think of evolving the human race by sending people to Mars (or at least trying to).
Your purpose doesn’t have to be saving the world, but it should be something more meaningful than making a profit. This will make life more satisfying for you and give your customers something real to connect with.
Where you are at the start of your business journey hopefully won’t be where you are in five years.
It pays to come up with a plan of where you would like to be and make sure that it fits the initial branding you create. Re-branding is expensive and time-consuming, you can avoid doing that later by thinking ahead from the start.
Come up with a plan of how you are going to scale your business. Will you be offering new services after twelve months, or will your services shift into a different niche? Do you see your customers base shifting at some point?
Every successful business grows naturally, so put some thought into creating a brand identity that you won’t quickly outgrow.
Your Visual Assets
Something as simple as using the same color in your visual assets can increase your brand’s recognition by 80%. This is because our brains are hardwired to process visual information a lot faster than verbal information.
The way that you design your business’s visual assets will speak louder than words to your customers, often without them realizing it.
Choosing the design elements that best represent your message will help your brand identity to be consistent with your brand’s personality.
Let’s take a look at how and where these visual assets come into play.
Your Design Elements
Your choice of color, shapes, lines, and fonts will all make up your brand’s visual image. It’s a fact that these elements all have a different effect on the way people perceive a brand.
For example, the color red is often associated with urgency and passion. Cursive fonts usually express feminine qualities and horizontal lines can make us think of physical strength, so they are often used in designs targeting men.
Choosing the right designs gives you a leg up with your audience at first glance.
Your website is your business’s online hub. Ideally, all roads should lead back to your website where a customer can opt into your deal.
If you’re using other platforms as spokes to drive traffic to your website it’s important to make sure that all of these places look and feel consistent with your branding.
Inconsistency can create trust issues and appear awkward for people. All of the channels you use should create a seamless experience for the user as they navigate from your Facebook to your website and other landing pages.
It’s a good idea to create website color schemes and apply these across all of your company’s branding.
Logos are important because you can place them anywhere and instantly bring your business to people’s minds without any other prompting.
A logo is the visual snapshot of everything that your brand means to people. While some of this will determine itself over time, use your design elements purposefully to reflect your company’s message.
Your Traditional Advertising
It’s easy to forget about traditional advertising when you’re a small business making the most of digital marketing. However traditional marketing methods such as personalized flyers, posters, packaging, and brochures should also all be consistent with your chosen brand design.
Keep in mind that it’s difficult and more expensive to change these designs after you’ve had them printed and placed in public. Leave the traditional advertising until after you’re one-hundred percent happy with your brand identity.
Your Tone of Voice
The tone of voice you use refers to the way your business says what it wants to say; and like every other part of your branding, it needs to be consistent.
Your tone of voice should resonate with your target audience. Are they conservative or alternative? Will they respond best to a technical and intellectual conversation or a funny and edgy one?
It’s important to outline your brand’s tone of voice in your style guide along with the visual elements of your branding.
Your business name should match your brand’s tone of voice. It should also be clear and easy to remember.
Most of the time it’s good for a business name to represent what the business offers but often a business name will take on its own meaning as the brand developed its personality.
Think of Tesla, Telstra, Panadol, and Adobe. They are all simple and unusual names that represent hugely successful brand identities.
A tagline is a one-sentence, inspiring summary of your business. The key to an effective tagline is keeping it simple, memorable, and summarizing your unique value. This can be a real challenge, the trick is not to overthink it.
Here are some examples:
MasterCard: There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.
Nike: Just Do It.
L’Oréal Paris: Because You’re Worth It.
All of these taglines create a positive feeling towards the brand, some of them even inspire action towards the brand.
Your Mission and Vision Statements
This is your opportunity to flesh out everything your brand stands for. It isn’t the most obvious piece of branding to your customers, but its value comes from keeping everybody in your business heading towards the same goal.
This keeps all of the small decisions for your company consistent over a long period of time, which means a lot for remaining true to the brand image you have created.
Your Customer Service
By now, when you think of a brand’s image you are probably starting to think of how you perceive a business based on how it looks. While this is true it isn’t the whole picture.
There are two crucial things to understand about creating a brand image:
- Your customers will ultimately decide what your image means to them
- Because of this, you need to be listening to them and evolving with them constantly
Brand image is a two-way street. You create a brand image and throw it out into the world where it becomes a living and evolving thing. What this means is that your brand will be defined as much by your customers as it is by your business.
If your customers have a negative experience with your business, all of the work you put into designing your visual image will start to represent something negative to your audience.
Your brand image is just as much about your reputation as it is about your products and service. This is why customer service is your life raft.
93% of customers say they will make repeat purchases from a business if they have a positive customer service experience.
Customer service is an opportunity to help smooth out problems that your customer is having with your business which means you can turn a negative situation into a positive one if you handle it properly.
Staff Morale and Creating a Positive Brand Identity
An often overlooked part of creating a brand identity is the way that your business handles its staff. Happy staff that are loyal and passionate about their workplace will be motivated to give the best service they can.
Your staff are stakeholders in your business and can have an equally important impact on your business as your customers. Often it is your staff that are handling the day to day details that keep your business running that define the way your customers view your brand.
Customer service is a perfect example of this. Often customer service is the only human interaction a customer has with a business which will help them decide how honest your company actually is.
This comes back to the way your brand is perceived being equally as important as how you have designed it.
The bottom line: look after your staff and they will look after your customers.
Looking for More Information About Branding?
Now that you have all the information you need to get started building your brand it’s important to keep improving all the time. Your brand will grow with your business so don’t let mistakes hold you back for too long.
Mistakes are only human and it’s often how you handle them that determines how they affect your business. A little bit of human error handled properly can even help your business seem more genuine and transparent.
Maybe you came here asking the question “what is a brand image?” and now you’re wondering what else you can do to boost your business?
Our blog is full of tips and information about marketing so make sure you check it out.