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When somebody mentions a brand, we immediately recall certain visual aspects of it. Whenever Michelin is mentioned, it brings a vivid picture of the Michelin Man and if one mentions Nike, the Swoosh logo comes to mind. But the how does one build a brand? What does it entail? Is only making a good logo enough? All businesses have their own logos but we tend to remember only a few of them. So, what else is needed to be done to build a brand? It is not about how much you can spend but how creative and effective you are in your communication. For instance, some of the most famous logos were designed for a pittance while others cost millions.

A successful brand defines the business. It is not only the mere logo or a catchy tagline. In fact, the brand is inseparable from the overall identity of the business and in case you cannot develop a recognizable brand, the business will never take off the way your desire. So, let’s look at the key aspects of branding that you must apply to your business.

Brand Association

The immediately visible components of the brand create the initial image in the mind of the consumer. Branding begins with the very name of the business itself. Choosing the right name is the first step in creating a connection with the customer and forging a lasting relationship that stands the test of time.

The logo plays an important role but there is more to it. The tagline, the advertisements, the websites, the stores, everything combines to create that certain image. For instance, when you visit the Apple store, it gives you that sense of cutting edge technology. You also feel the same when you visit their website or use their mobile app. So, these components are not independent and random. They are well thought out and consistent with each other. They have been developed to evoke a particular feeling in the minds of the consumers towards the brand.

Brand Positioning

No brand can appeal to everybody. Different people have different choices and a successful brand knows its target audience. They also know how to attract this target population and that is what we know as brand positioning. A good example here is Miller Lite Beer. It was not an instant success as its key segment of beer drinking males considered the “light beer” to lack machismo. Miller Lite’s game-changer, however, was  the iconic “Tastes Great, Less Filling” advertisements. It basically said that it tastes the same as any good beer but is less filling as it is “light” and hence one can drink more. The actual product remained the same, but a simple tweak in brand messaging made it the most popular brand in that segment. This is how you need to position a brand for maximum impact.

Brand Personality

An extension of the above point is the brand personality. The brand needs to cultivate a personality that is acceptable for its target audience. For instance, a soda–like Pepsi–is more likely to attract a younger demographic. So, over the years it has cultivated a youthful personality by using sports, music and film stars. In comparison, its competitor Coca Cola focuses on human relationships and tries to deliver a larger message through its advertisements, just to show that it is one of the oldest brands that can almost be considered a symbol of American values. Both have different treatments but both are hugely successful.

Brand Promise

Through various branding and promotional activities, a brand promises a certain outcome to the consumer. For example, Virgin is seen as genuine and contemporary, but it also promises to be reasonably priced and not too expensive. So, when someone thinks of Virgin, they expect a fun service or product at a reasonable price. But a new brand must assess itself and figure out what it can deliver before making any promises. It is better not to promise than promising and failing to deliver.

Brand Story

Finally, as branding progresses over time, a story develops around the brand. It is partly based on facts and partly on the associations that people draw. But there must be a story that people can relate to. For example, check this video by Go Pro. It tells us how the brand developed and what motivated them. It also explains what the product can do and why people love it. Such storytelling is an essential component of brand building, as it adds to the brand image and so it must be planned and cultivated carefully.

Final Thoughts

Branding is not difficult to understand, but very difficult to implement. It is more of an art rather than science and so one cannot just imitate other brands. Every business must come up with its own strategy to build its brand; effective branding helps startups differentiate themselves in the market that is replete with competition and established players. It not only takes foresight and planning but also requires consummate communication skills to convey the qualities of a brand and make people believe in the same.

Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has  contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at NickAndrewRojas@gmail.com.

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