You often hear people talking about ‘Creating’ or ‘Building’ a brand but depending on who is doing the talking you will get very different messages.
If you talk to any of my esteemed colleagues on our design team about ‘Brand‘ then the conversation will no doubt focus on the visual aspect of your business identity. Whereas if you talk to anyone on the digital marketing team then the conversation is likely to be much more focused on customer perception, brand awareness and brand reputation.
This variation in what the word ‘Brand’ means to different people highlights the fact that brand is a very expansive term covering many areas of a business so it is important to understand the context of how a brand is being discussed. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to be talking about brand from the perspective of customer awareness, engagement and reputation.
People often discuss or compare brands online and within the digital marketing world, you will hear terms such as ‘Brand Signals’ referring to elements of a brand that affect search engine ranking positions. You very rarely hear conversations outlining how to build a brand.
I’m not going to suggest that I can cover the A to Z of building a brand within a single blog post but all brands have to start somewhere so if we are talking about building then all buildings start with the foundations. So that’s where we shall start. The foundations of a brand.
A brand is like an iceberg, the majority of it is hidden below the surface.
The part of a brand that sits above the surface, the part that is visible for the whole world to see is your brand behaviour. How you and every member of your business conduct yourselves, how you interact with customers and the shared voice of your business is what shapes people’s perception of your brand.
Getting your brand behaviour and your brand voice right is essential if you want your customers to see you in the way that you want to be seen. Without the deeper influences that sit below the surface then your business is essentially a collection of individual voices all trying to independently shape your brand.
Just below the surface, underneath your brand behaviour sits the combined knowledge of everyone within your business. This knowledge directly informs your brand behaviour and lends credibility to your brand voice.
Uniformity in the approach to how knowledge is applied to your interactions with your customers will go a long way to creating a common brand voice across your business.
Below knowledge sits the combined experience of your team. Experience brings confidence and adds credibility to the knowledge that you communicate to your customers. In a lot of cases, the experience of having tried and failed in the past means that the advice you give as a brand has been tried, tested and is, therefore, more valuable. But we need to go deeper still to discover the true foundations of a brand.
Sat at the very bottom and forming the foundation of your brand are your brand values. Your values define your approach to doing business. They inform how everyone in your business should conduct themselves, how they should interact with and support your customers and how your team members should support each other. Brand values are essential for shaping the voice of your business.
Our brand values form a contract between the business directors, the team and our clients. Any party can hold any other party to account for failure to uphold our brand values.
We provide ongoing, long-term services for our clients and when starting a relationship with a new client our brand values provide those new clients with realistic expectations of how they can expect us to work with them and our values also set to the ground rules for how we expect our clients to work with us.
Why your business needs brand values.
If you are the only person working within your business then your brand values most likely mirror your own personal values but writing these values down is still very much worthwhile. Physically recording your values defines to both you and your customers your approach to doing business.
Everyone has different personal values. What is important to one person maybe wouldn’t get a second thought from someone else. If you have multiple people working within your business without any brand values to dictate your unified approach then you are leaving the decisions of what your brand voice sounds like down to individuals, each of them with their own voice. In this instance, the lack of brand values is likely to provide varying and sometimes conflicting signals anyone engaging with your business.