Building a brand in 2024 is not for the faint of heart. With advancing technology and swift industry changes, breaking through the market noise has proven to be more complex than ever. But your company can be a beacon of light with the right branding strategy.
Let’s discuss the key pillars encompassing a brand, why branding is so important, and the 6 steps to building a successful brand in 2024.
What is a brand?
The existential question strikes again. Marketing experts tend to overcomplicate the idea of a brand—but it’s quite simple. Your brand defines who you are and what your competitive advantage is.
6 pillars make up a brand:
Each of these pillars works together to create a meaningful, memorable, and powerful brand. Your logo, colors, tone, and voice are all critical elements that impact the strength of your brand. Alone, they don’t have much power, but together they can create magic.
Why is building a brand important?
Your brand helps you stand out from the noise and market saturation. Take Nike, for example. The first thing that probably comes to mind is the “Just Do It” tagline or the “swoosh” logo. So why is Nike so recognizable? Sure, it’s a massive corporation, but there are plenty of other excellent, high-quality athletic brands.
Nike inspires its audience through compelling, actionable, and consistent storytelling. Whether it be on TV or through written content, Nike is known for sharing meaningful stories so you can connect with the brand on a deeper, personal level. They focus on creating relationships with their audience and building upon those relationships with every touchpoint.
That’s why carefully crafting and maintaining a brand is so important. It helps companies build relationships with customers to create loyal brand advocates. If your brand is inconsistent, you’re not building an empire that can last.
But building a brand is more than just blogging and a pretty logo. A brand is an investment in future dividends, both in terms of building confidence, which improves customer acquisition and in terms of a valuation, if you ever plan to pass the torch or sell.
6 steps to building an authentic brand
Creating a brand that resonates with your audience and can stand the test of time takes extensive work. Let’s dive into the 6 steps to building a brand.
1. Research your target market
You can’t market your brand without understanding every single little thing about your target audience. Here are some questions you absolutely need to know the answers to:
- Who are they?
- How old are they?
- What are their interests?
- What keeps them up at night?
- What are they passionate about?
- What do they hate?
- What problems do they have that your company can solve?
- What’s their favorite color? (well, maybe you don’t need to get quite this personal)
Knowing your target audience will help you narrow your marketing efforts to customers who are more likely to purchase your product or service. Why waste time and effort on customers who aren’t interested in your product?
2. Determine your brand’s identity and voice
Once you understand your target audience, you can develop your brand’s identity and voice. Your brand voice is the personality of your brand. It includes how you approach the tone, style, and message of your brand.
If your brand was a person, what personality traits would they take on? How would they conduct themselves? A few different tone of voice examples for brands include:
Your brand voice should be showcased loud and proud wherever your brand speaks, including social media posts, website content, review responses, emails, and more.
3. Decide on brand values (and shout them from the rooftop)
Your brand values define your purpose—the fundamental beliefs your company stands for. It could be anything from diversity to sustainability to transparency to innovation. Establishing a set of brand values can be critical to your company's success by building brand loyalty, strengthening brand reputation, and attracting the right talent to your team.
But it’s crucial to be honest about the values you choose. It can have an adverse effect on potential customers if they discover that your brand is backed by values that don’t see the light of day. To choose the right brand values, get internal feedback from your team and have brainstorming sessions with leadership to narrow down what makes the most sense for your brand. The last, and perhaps most important step, is to communicate you chosen values to your internal team and target audience.
4. Solidify your brand design
Deciding on a design style is one of the most exciting steps to building a brand. The design of your brand should balance the industry norms and your target audience. For example, if you’re a tech company, your brand will likely lean toward bright, attention-grabbing colors, while a business in the medical space would focus on calming, relaxed customers.
When it comes to font, digital-based companies tend to prefer sans serif fonts, while more serious brands gravitate towards serif fonts. Aside from industry standards, it’s important to choose fonts based on how they will be used in print versus digital versus merchandise.
But don’t be afraid to go against the norm and spice things up a bit. You want to stand out, after all! Lots of discovery and research is required to come up with the perfect colors and design for your brand. Make a list of what your customers from step 1 will be attracted to and the tone they will resonate with (step 2).
5. Create a brand style guide
Your brand colors, logo, and style guidelines all need a place to live. Think of a style guide and a rulebook of the many intricacies of your brand. It should include everything from the different types of logo variations to directions on how to use certain colors to brand patterns and imagery.
This may seem like an easy step to skip, but as your team grows, it will be helpful to reference a style guide to ensure that your brand remains true to its identity. Consistency is crucial when it comes to maintaining a brand.
6. Build a community
Without loyal customers, you don’t have a brand that can withstand the long haul, so it’s important to celebrate those customers by focusing on building a community.
A brand community is simply a group of people who share a passion for a product or brand and benefits both the consumer and business. They can be both online or offline, whether it be through social media groups or in-person events. In this outlet, consumers have the opportunity to ask questions and lead discussions on their favorite products and the brand is able to take direction from these conversations on how to improve their products or services.
7. Maintain brand reputation
Your brand isn’t something you can build up and then forget about—it needs to be maintained, built upon, and nurtured over time. Brand reputation is how people perceive your brand, and when a bad review or customer experience inevitably happens, you need to be ready to handle it. Maintaining your brand reputation requires:
- Monitoring social media, mentions, reviews, and feedback
- Responding quickly to customer concerns and questions
- Maintaining a consistent brand tone of voice and identity
- Addressing negative feedback both empathetically and proactively
Note: A comprehensive brand exercise like this could require hundreds of hours of focused work and include exercises like customer interviews and extensive market research. It’s not something you can nail down on a rainy afternoon!
Brand Spotlight: Hedgehog Investments
There’s a better way to build a brand, and we did it with Hedgehog Investments.
Hedgehog Investments is an alternative investment model that’s increasing the accessibility of high-performing investments. But, alternatives are new, and there are no clear resources for potential investors to learn more about them.
That’s where Merithot comes in.
You can have the most incredible product or service, but if people don’t know you exist, then you’re out of luck. We worked together with the Hedgehog team to create a brand marketing strategy that is memorable and sought after.
The Hedgehog team wanted a brand that was welcoming and approachable. After all, the world of investing can be quite intimidating, and when experts start spewing nonsensical jargon, it can steer people away fast. So, we designed a logo and color scheme that not only made their audience comfortable but left them intrigued to learn more about what they had to offer.
We joined the design and content of the brand to be charming and playful, yet professional and educated. Learn more about our journey of building the Hedgehog brand here.
Build a brand with a partner who actually knows what they’re doing
We like to pat ourselves on the back sometimes, and we’ve helped build some pretty remarkable brands. Interested in learning more about what our process is like? Get in touch with our team here.