When I need to purchase something online, including hard to find items, my first instinct is to look on Amazon. I like buying from Amazon because of the range of products that are available on the site. It also helps that the items are offered at a lower price in comparison to the same products sold by other online shops. Best of all, purchasing is convenient and delivery is always dependable.
Amazon started out as an online bookstore that eventually branched into retailing DVDs, MP3s, electronics, computer games, apparel and a plethora of other items. Jeff Bezos named the company after the Amazon River, the largest river in the world. His intention was to make it the largest store in the world, which it already is today. The ecommerce giant has a presence in the United Kingdom and Ireland, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Japan, China, India, and Mexico. Soon, it will also launch ecommerce sites in Poland and Sweden.
In 2013 and 2014, Amazon topped YouGov BrandIndex’ list of Best Perceived Brands. YouGov BrandIndex tracks public perception of thousands of brands across the world on a daily basis.
As Jeff Bezos said, a brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. And how does one earn or get assigned a reputation? This is typically through evaluation against a set of criteria including a person’s accomplishments, way of dressing, job description, past experiences, appearance and educational attainment, among others. In a similar manner, a company is judged against factors such as quality, appearance, how it fulfils its promises, and customer its service delivery etc.
In a world where there are endless options for every thinkable item of need, and services that are only a click away, the brand behind the product or service makes a world of difference in the customer’s decision phase. In fact, according to some studies, 59% of customers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them, and 21% purchased a new product because it was from a brand they trusted.
This data further stresses the importance of having a strategic plan for your brand. But what essentially is a brand…and how do you attain top-of-mind awareness and preference?
A brand is an overarching representation of your company and the products or services it provides. It is comprised of several elements including graphic depictions, manner of service, overall look and feel of the company (reflected in the company’s design guidelines, marketing collateral, goods and services) and demeanor of employees. All these elements are interconnected and must be consistent, as these will eventually contribute to the reputation of the company, and form the customer’s perception of the brand.
When building a brand, a lot of factors come into play. These need to be carefully considered and acted on.
1) Define Your brand.
Just like a person, your company needs an identity. This identity will be a reflection of your company’s personality and beliefs. As part of the process, the below items must be carefully considered as these will set the tone for the other elements of your brand.
a) Positioning. Describe your product or service. Define which space it occupies relative to your competitors. Is it budget-friendly or premium quality, functional or lavish, entry-level or high-end?
b) Value Proposition. This explains why customers should patronise your business. It should answer the questions: What is unique about your offering? How are you going to make a difference in the lives of your customers? What kind of experience are your customers going to get?
c) Tone of Voice. The tone of voice should reflect the values of the company as well as the people behind it. It should be in line with your brand’s persona. The tone of voice must be consistent throughout the company, from the marketing to all forms of communication.
d) Persona. Human characteristics are assigned to brands to make them relatable to people. Examples include carefree, athletic, influential, elegant, thoughtful and family-oriented.
2) Develop Your Tagline.
Your tagline is essentially a description of your brand value in a nutshell. A good tagline is concise, simple, clear, memorable, communicates a story and most importantly, communicates a key benefit.
3) Create Your Logo.
Your logo will be the main and most visible representation of your company as it will appear in all marketing collaterals and other forms of communication. Because of this, it is vital that its design is crafted with a lot of thought. Its components must be in line with your brand identity. At the same time, its elements must consider logo design principles and best practice.
4) Decide on Your Design Elements.
Various types of marketing collateral will be required for different marketing arenas. In presenting your product or service, the look and feel of your collateral should be consistent throughout all channels and reflect your brand. In order to do this, certain design elements such as colour schemes, fonts and formatting must be outlined in the brand guidelines.
5) Ingrain Your brand in your Company Culture.
Branding does not stop at design and communication activities. Since employees engage with customers, their actions, appearance and way of communicating must likewise accurately represent your brand.
When building a brand, you need to develop a brand strategy defining what your brand is, developing a tagline, creating a logo, deciding on design elements and tone of voice to use in all forms of communication and ingraining the brand values in your culture.
These brand elements must be consistent at all times at every customer touch point. Branding done correctly has the capability to influence purchasing decisions of customers by differentiating your company, creating loyalty among customers, and establishing your company as a trustworthy and dependable source.