Marketing 101: How to Build a Strong Brand Image is about creating an external image for your business’s marketing.
Your brand image is how you’re viewed by your customers. It’s presented through both traditional and digital marketing. It’s about reputation and how you’re perceived. Brand image can be important to the success of your business.
Without prior knowledge, brand building can be tricky. To help you with the basics Marketing 101: How to Build a Strong Brand Image outlines some points you should consider. These steps could also be useful for start-ups, rebrands or when consolidating assets.
1. Develop a brand persona
Before growing your brand you should decide who you are as a business. It’s like developing a persona. What are you offering? What makes you different from other brands? How do you want to look? You could be more adventurous and fun-loving, or more corporate and professional.
It’s about setting your intentions as a brand and your qualities. Your business persona should appeal to prospective customers.
2. Decide your mission, vision and values
Mission, vision and values are often confused but they each have a different purpose. To develop them you’ll need to prepare an individual statement for each.
The vision statement describes where the business wants to be in the future. The mission statement describes what the business needs to do to achieve the vision. The values statement provides a moral direction for the business that guides decision making.
Once you have your persona and mission, vision and values in place, your brand will begin to develop a distinct character. You can publish your mission, vision and values online and allow them to underpin some of your marketing campaigns.
3. Complete a SWOT analysis
To develop an idea of your position as a brand, it’s important to know where you stand in the market. You can measure this by completing a SWOT analysis. This helps identify your strengths and weaknesses in comparison to competitors, and the potential opportunities and threats to your business. It helps you to understand ways you can use your brand image in marketing.
4. Create a physical identity
Once you have the foundations in place, it’s time to develop the physical identity of your brand. Your brand visuals, logo and guidelines.
Your logo is highly important and can influence the direction of your brand’s physical look. It should be original, unique and relevant. The colours and styles used in your logo should feed into your digital assets and printed materials. The correct use of the business logo should be the first port of call in your brand guidelines
Brand guidelines are a checklist that helps the people responsible for your marketing to use the right tone of voice, colours, graphics, fonts and images. Your brand guidelines should include correct instructions for signage, stationary, profile images, websites and more. You will select your brand colours, straplines, fonts and colour schemes and fix them in place, until you rebrand in the future.
Your physical identity will represent who you are as a brand. It should aim to connect with the ideal customers. Depending on your resources you might look to outsource elements to freelance designers of agencies.
5. Form key messages
After you’ve defined your brand persona and physical identity you can develop your key messages. Key messages are what your audience will see or hear when interacting with you. You should try to consider all of the customer brand touch points.
Key messages should incorporate unique aspects of your business. They should show the value you bring to your customers, with a dash of your brand personality.
Key messaging could be influenced by anything from sales strategies and promotions, to business operations and delivery. Key communications could also focus on benefits, qualities and successes of your goods or service. They could inform your business tagline and what you choose to communicate through marketing.
6. Choose the right channels
Whatever you fix on saying in your key messages, you will need to use a variety of marketing platforms and media channels to help deliver them.
Advertising, digital marketing, direct mail, print ads, promotions, PR, social and events are just a few of the main marketing channels.
Focusing on the correct channels helps you to achieve faster growth and higher returns on promotional activities. You can use market research and competitor analysis to help decide which are the best channels and platforms for your business.
7. Make a marketing plan
Now that you have started to build your brand image you should consider making a marketing plan. This is about mapping where you will focus, to maximise exposure of your brand and image.
Depending on the size of your business you may want to document all areas of your marketing plan. Content calendars, activity schedules and planning software can help you to build visual roadmaps. Marketing plans can also be presented in spreadsheets including expenses.
Things may not always go the way you anticipated but having a marketing plan is a foundational structure. There should always be some room for flexibility, especially in terms of new trends and emerging technologies.
8. Be consistent
Brand recognition is built through consistency and repetition. This helps to lodge your brand image in the mind of the customer.
You should adopt regular patterns of advertising and promotion. Depending on what channels you’re using, frequency and regularity can help to demonstrate your consistency as a business.
Your brand should look the same across all channels and assets. Promotional items, uniforms and vehicles should all be on-brand. If your business has physical premises, they too should be in synergy with your image. Any modes of customer service or after-care should also be aligned with the brand.
Consistency across the board will strengthen your brand image and enhance the customers experience of interacting with your business.
9. Build trust
Nurturing trust with customers takes time but when your brand is trusted you will receive more business.
You can use customer feedback like reviews, testimonials and external platforms like Trustpilot to strengthen your reputation. You can highlight positive feedback in communications across your marketing channels.
Press coverage in authoritative publications helps to nurture confidence in your business. Influencer marketing, content marketing, collaborations, sponsorships and co-branding are also different ways to build trust in your marketplace.
Awards and accolades can also show your business’s credibility and help solidify your reputation.
Evaluation is intrinsic to building on your brand image. You need to know that you’re investing your time, energy and resources in the right places, and that you’re progressing to where you want to be.
Most digital platforms provide access to statistics, so it can be easy to measure the success of your online activities. Analytics tools also provide detailed insights. You could also try customer feedback surveys, questionnaires and monitor your media coverage. Activities like these will help you to understand whether customers view your brand as hoped, and also identify any weak links.
Regular evaluation will help to you to stay on track, keep expenditure in check and eliminate ineffective strategies.
A recognisable and admired brand image can be your most valuable asset in business, helping you stand out from the crowd. Building a strong brand image is a collective and cumulative process and can take a long time, but these are some of the primary steps to getting there. Depending on the size and nature of your business some of these areas will require more attention than others.
If you would like help with your business brand image get in touch at email@example.com. What do you think about this article? Are these steps helpful for start-ups? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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All text ©J. Thomson, 2022