Are you wondering what a brand really is? For many people without a marketing background, the concept is a little abstract and hazy. Maybe you have a few ideas about what it could be: It might be your passion, your hard work, or the energy you put into your business, right? Well, in reality the answer is “none of the above.” Let’s break it down: Your brand is how your business is perceived and the elements that create that perception.
For example, your business is the restaurant that you own and manage. Your brand might be a high-end steak house where the host knows your name. While there are many steak house businesses, none of them is just like yours. Your brand is what influences customers to choose your steak house over the one down the street.
So, what is a brand?
Branding, in the most basic sense, is words and images, but it also extends much further than that. It’s how you greet customers, the napkins on the table, the style of your social media updates. It’s everything—tangible and intangible—that goes into the experience your customers have when they come into contact with your business. We break down your brand into the following six elements:
- Brand voice
- Brand identity
- Brand promise
- Brand values
- Brand targeting
- Brand positioning
Let’s dive into each one of these at a time.
Six Elements of a Brand
Brand voice is the consistent personality and emotion that you infuse into your company’s communications. It helps to humanize your brand, showcase your values, and distinguish yourself from competitors. Your voice is your brand’s steady personality that your customers know and love. Want to dive deeper into a brand voice? CoSchedule has a wonderful guide here.
Brand identity refers to aspects of your company that are recognizable in the eyes of consumers. Brand identity includes your company’s color palette, logo, and fonts/lettering, as well as how you visually present yourself on social media and through the company website. Brand identity also refers to your company’s physical presentation, including how you design your packaging and other tangible aspects of your brand.
Your brand promise is all about how you articulate the unique value that your business provides customers with. This includes your company’s vision and mission statements as well as your brand principles and value proposition. A brand promise sets customer expectations and holds your company accountable to meeting them. The more aligned your company’s actions are with your brand promise, the more trust and loyalty you will cultivate. Here are twelve examples of compelling brand promises.
Brand values are the guiding principles and beliefs that your company stands for. By articulating your values and aligning your brand with something bigger and more meaningful than yourself, your customers will see that your brand is relatable and real—and that this truth extends far beyond just your product and service offerings. Don’t know where to start when it comes to identifying your brand values? This Hubspot resource on core company values is a great starting point.
Brand targeting means determining what segment of the market you want to reach. This includes segmenting your target market by identifying the characteristics of your target customer. This can be broken down into several components, including age, geographic location, and income level, as well as behavioral and personality traits (e.g. reason for buying the product, purchasing habits, etc). This article on market segmentation dives into the various types and provides additional insight on targeting if you’re not sure where to begin.
Finally, brand positioning refers to where your brand stands in the market in the eyes of consumers, including how your brand differs from industry competition. Positioning takes targeting a step further, and involves strategizing your marketing efforts to ensure that your tactics are the most effective in reaching the targeted market segment. In addition to solidifying your marketing mix, brand positioning also means cultivating a brand voice that will resonate uniquely in a busy marketplace.
If you’re thinking that you haven’t yet defined your brand, guess what? Your brand is still being defined in the absence of a strategy. Whether it is the manner in which you engage with consumers, the beliefs your company holds, or simply the logo that dons your packaging, you develop your brand each and every day, with every business interaction you have. Every step that you take to define these six elements of your brand will increase your consistency and trust with customers.