A truly great brand is a force to be reckoned with. It can be the catalyst for taking your company from good to great, and when you learn to brand like the best, you can:
- Attract more of your ideal clients
- Stop undercharging
- Stop having to over explain why your products or services are worth the investment
- Appeal to the premium end of the market
- Be as delightfully expensive as you deserve to be
But you already know this, or else why would you be spending your valuable time reading this article (aside from the fact that you were pulled in by the killer title or the sweet looking Frankly Co. graphics…aka, touchpoints of an epic brand!) Either way, I’m glad you are here, because there aren’t many topics in the world that I am as passionate about as this one. So without further ado, here are 3 Steps to Become a World Champion in Branding
Step 1. Clarify your Brand Message. It is important to know that this should come FIRST before you create the visual aspects of your brand. Great brands get help discovering who they are and who they want to be on the inside, before they set out to show it on the outside. In order to get clear on your messaging, first you have to KNOW YOUR VALUE.
Take action today
Ask yourself, what makes you unique, amazing, and totally worth every bit of the price you want to charge? Identify who your ideal customers are, and what problem you solve for them better than anyone else. And once you have discovered those items and crafted your brand message around them, what you have to say will be clear, concise, and as desirable to your customers as water to a thirsty soul who just wandered out of the desert!
Now before you dismiss this step as unnecessary homework or a random journaling exercise, realize this – your brand messaging strategy is so much more than just words on a page! It will become your one liner, your elevator pitch, your homepage copy on your website, the start of your email campaigns, or the foundation for your social media marketing campaign. It will also be the story that your visual brand will be communicating.
If branding is like building a house, then a clear concise message is your solid foundation. Without it, the structure is doomed to fail. Clarifying and aligning your messaging allows you to speak directly to your dreamiest of dream clients.
So now you know your value, but does your ideal customer perceive it?
Step 2 – SHOW YOUR VALUE. Your brand is so much more than a logo, and great brands have reasons for their designs that are based on research. When it comes to crafting your visual brand, remember that the messaging + visuals are 2 different sides of a perfect coin, and together they tell the whole story. Your visuals should be created specifically to highlight the value that your messaging says that you bring to your customers, and you can’t successfully use one without the other. If you only have messaging and no visuals, you will be constantly having to over explain what you do and why you are worth it – and if you only have random visuals without intentional messaging behind them, those visuals will have no meaning, and customers will be constantly trying to decipher what those images are trying to tell them – and usually give up before they figure it out. Words + Images create perceptions and drive the associations in the minds of your clients. They attract (or repel) your ideal customers.
This is where a concept called Brand Positioning comes in. Brand Positioning is aligning your company with the images, thoughts and emotions that you want it to be associated with in the mind of your customer. For example, think of a magazine ad that you’ve seen for any big name fashion label. At first glance, the staging items in the photo may seem odd, out of place or simply “artistic,” but in many cases they are choosing a backdrop of items that already have strong association with luxury in the mind of the consumer.
There are more in depth definitions, but to keep it simple and applicable for today, we’re going to focus on the visual side of this concept.
Take action today
Think of items, people or places that your ideal customers already perceive as desirable. Be literal, and position yourself next to them. Plan a photoshoot for your personal brand that contains some of those intentional staging items or clothing labels. If you are positioning for luxury or premium markets, note that consistency and quality of photos matter as much as the content. An on-brand intentional photo series for your new website will communicate a totally different level of excellence than 10 random old photos taken at 10 different times in your life.
Brand positioning is not just for photos though. You can apply the brand positioning by bringing affiliate marketers onto your podcast who sell products that your audience already know & love. You can offer a mastermind or a guest training that features a speaker that your ideal clients have been dying to gain access to. And remember, the concept of brand positioning applies to all levels of the market, not just luxury. You simply choose products, places and people that align with your ideal audience and their lifestyle goals.
Step 3. Get Consistent! Your brand is only as good as HOW you use it, WHERE you use it and HOW MUCH you use it! If you create amazing, clear brand messaging, and epic visuals that tell the same story, but then do absolutely nothing with it, you will get zero ROI on your new brand. Consistency is key, and consistent excellence across ALL brand touchpoints = brand experiences that build a customer base of raving fans!
A great example of where and how a brand can build momentum for you is your website. Your website should be the touchpoint that brings your message and visuals together into a cohesive space, while at the same time it should be delivering a seamless and pleasant user experience. Does your website convert visitors into customers while you sleep? Do people landing on your homepage know in 2 seconds what problem you solve and why they want to use your service more than any of your competitors? If not, then that is one of the first brand touchpoints you should tackle.
When it comes to a website, remember that templates aren’t right for everyone – why would you build a beautiful brand that is authentic to you and your uniqueness, and then stuff it into a series of templated boxes that cause you to create content you don’t need? Or why would you leave out compelling parts of your story that would have been exactly what your customers needed to hear, only because there was no box for it in the layout? Consider hiring a brand designer who can build you a custom website that is as epic as your goals, and reflects your highest value and most aspirational self!
Also, you came here to find out how to be a world champion in branding, so stop looking to stock photos to tell YOUR story. This is as bad as always stuffing yourself into someone else’s templates. Create the content, create the photos, and show YOUR authentic self…don’t just re-use other people’s imagery.
Depending on your ideal clients and where your audience hangs out, your first and most important touchpoint may be social media instead of a website, or maybe it is something different entirely. Whatever the case may be, maximize the ROI on your brand by following your brand guidelines across all touchpoints.
Get consistent in the level of quality and service you provide. ALWAYS FIND A WAY TO ADD MORE VALUE…in the way that your customers want. Create your most aspirational brand and then live up to it! If you build a premium visual brand that makes your product and service look amazing – and then you over deliver on the customer service and provide a premium experience, you will have raving fans and repeat customers for life. However, if you create a premium looking brand, but your customers are having inconsistent and sub-par experiences (your website is glitchy and hard to use, you fail to deliver on what you promised, your products arrive in cheap packaging, or you show up for client interactions looking like you just rolled out of bed…) then you created illusions rather than substance, and you will lose customers as fast as you gained them in the first place.
These are 3 steps to become a world champion in branding… but there is also a step before you get there that many people leave out…This happens a lot in life, so i’ve coined a term for those hidden early stage steps that lay the foundation for greatness in any process – I call it step zero.
When it comes to enjoying an epic brand journey, step zero is to get a Brand Analysis before you begin any design or messaging. Whether you plan to DIY your brand, or hire an expert to bring your vision to life, it is important to know where you are and where you want to go before setting off. Otherwise you will do scattered work in multiple directions. Rather than building a foundation that grows and can be built on down the road, you will spend major effort creating inconsistent and unplanned brand associations that may have to be torn down and completely reworked later.
A Brand Analysis is about discovery. If we go back to the branding as a house analogy, a brand analysis is walking the property and measuring what is there + looking at some sketches of different architectural styles before deciding what will be built, scoping your competition, estimating time + cost, etc. You wouldn’t build a home or physical storefront without surveying the land, measuring, and drafting plans with your architect, so why would you build a digital business without doing the same?
At Design by Jo, we offer a Brand Analysis that consists of a deep dive interview with you, and research on your competitors and aspirational brands in your industry, followed by the creation of a visual a roadmap that identifies the gaps between where you are now and where you want to go, as well as strategy & a proposal on how to close those gaps and brand like the best. Other designers may go about it differently, but either way, when it comes to being a world champion in branding, finding the right brand expert to help you ask the right questions and plan your strategy for standing out before you begin is a step you don’t want to miss!
Author: Johanna White
Visual Brand Strategist & Award Winning Graphic Designer
Founder of Design by Jo Studio