Building a Brand: Developing Your Brand Values & Identity
Developing a strong and consistent brand identity is crucial to your company’s success. It can help you stand out in the market, attract your ideal customer and build your reputation.
This article guides you through how to build a brand. We take you through establishing core values, developing your tone of voice, and understanding your audience. Finally, we reveal how to put all of this into practice to create a strong brand identity both online and offline.
Understand your brand values
Creating a vision statement
Your vision statement speaks about your brand’s future aims. It should be crafted to clearly and concisely communicate your overall goals. Don’t confuse it with a mission statement, which talks about your brand in the present.
Your vision statement is the first step in your brand development. It should be a source of inspiration and motivation, and all in one line of text!
Tips for writing a vision statement:
• Where do you see your brand in the future?
• How do you see you brand getting to that point?
• How long will it take your brand to get to that point?
Vision statement examples:
The Nature Conservancy: Our vision is to leave a sustainable world for future generations.
LinkedIn: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
Establishing business USPs
Your unique selling points (USPs) are what make your brand stand out from other businesses. Take some time to think about what makes you different from your competitors. Do you offer a unique service? Does your company have a more unusual work ethic? Aim to establish three brand USPs.
Here are some examples from well-known brands:
M&Ms: The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand
Dominos Pizza: Piping hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free
Barclays: An experience of 300 years
Determining your brand essence
This one word will become your brand’s mantra, acting as a checkpoint for all your content, both written and visual.
It may be tricky, but find a single word to describe the essence of your brand. You may find it easier to imagine that your brand is a person and what one word you would use to describe their personality. Here are some examples to get you started:
Nike is inspirational
Go Pro is adventurous
Walt Disney is magical
Creating a mission statement
It may sound like another marketing buzzword, but mission statements are important. Ultimately a well constructed mission statement can provide a framework for evaluating future opportunities.
In short, a mission statement describes why your company exists and clearly sums up your company’s direction and goals. It acts as a roadmap and should be updated as your company and industry evolves.
Writing a mission statement can be daunting. Start out by answering these five questions to form the foundation.
• What does your company do?
• How do you do it?
• Why do you do it?
• Who do you do it for?
• What value are you bringing to your customer/industry?
Mission statement examples from brands that got it right:
Microsoft: Our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realise their full potential. We consider our mission statement a commitment to our customers. We deliver on that commitment by striving to create technology that is accessible to everyone – of all ages and abilities.
Walmart: Helps people around the world save money and live better, anytime and anywhere, in retail stores, online and through their mobile devices.
Nordstrom: In store or online, wherever new opportunities arise—Nordstrom works relentlessly to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible. The one constant? John W. Nordstrom’s founding philosophy: offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality and value.
Understand your target audience
To ensure you’re creating the right content for your brand, you first need to define your target audience. Writing a great piece of content is near worthless if it doesn’t speak directly to your audience. Here’s our guide on how to write great website content.
Who is your brand speaking to?
Defining your target audience isn’t a quick or easy job but it’s crucial in creating content that sticks.
Start by asking yourself three simple questions:
• Who does my product/company/service benefit? E.g. Industry insight, expert knowledge, agile working
• Who are my competitors?
• Who are my current customers? If you are already in business, take a look at your current Google Analytics demographics and your customer database.
If your business has direct access to your customers, run a poll or survey. This can help you identify what is most important to them and which of your features benefits them most. Once you have loosely identified your target audience, run another poll with them to drill down even further.
If you don’t have direct access to your customers or are a startup, take a look at YouGov Profiles. This free tool allows you to search for a brand, person or thing and defines an audience segment based on population profiling. Try searching for a product you sell or a well-established competitor.
You want to divide your profiling into two sections. The first is basic demographics, which defines who will buy:
• Marital Status
• Number of Children
Aim to pick 1-2 demographics that directly identifies your core market and a further 1-3 to boost your audience. For example, if you are a recruiter for the construction industry, your core market would be Occupation and your secondary would be Location and Age.
The second section is psychographics, which defines why your audience will buy. Here you want to look at:
• Interests & Hobbies
• Media Interests
Company X’s target audience demographic is 24-35 year old professionals in central London in a senior role.
They’re interested in film, news, travel and business and are avid social media users.
Developing a tone of voice
Tone of voice isn’t what you say but how you say it. It sets you out from your competitors and gives your audience an insight into the people behind the brand. It develops trust and allows your audience a valuable insight into who you are and what you value.
Establishing a brand personality
Start by looking at the following and decide where on the sliding scale you want your brand to sit.
Think about how you want your audience to feel when they read your content. Should they feel empowered, informed, advised, amused, guided or something completely different?
Tone of voice example
We focus on creating content that inspires creative thinking in our audience. We show authority, insight and passion by speaking about topics in an engaging but friendly and accessible way.
Communicating your brand voice
It is important that all of your copy, both online and offline, is written in the same tone of voice and style. From blog articles to printed leaflets to PPC display ads, your brand’s tone of voice should be consistent throughout.
Using your brand voice on your website
Start at the beginning – the homepage. If your audience could only see one page of your site, and many of them do, you want them to leave knowing your brand vision and values.
Arguably the most important content on your website, ensure your homepage headline is on point. 6-10 words may not seem like many, but that’s all that stands between you and a bounce. Look back over your vision and mission statement, delve back into your target audience and get writing. You’re probably not going to get it right first time so don’t panic. Take your time to get it nailed.
Now let’s go from your website’s biggest feature to the smallest, microcopy. Microcopy refers to short sentences and single words used on website forms, Call to Action buttons and even loading screens. Just because they aren’t primary copy, doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Microcopy pays a key role in building trust with your audience and will ultimately guide them to their next step in your brand’s journey.
Learn how a few carefully chosen words can have a major impact on the success of your business online with our guide to Writing Microcopy for Your Website.
Using your brand voice on social media
Social media is now one of the most accessible ways to engage with your customers and reach new audiences. As well as acting as another outreach post, it also builds trust by putting a face to your company.
With so much riding on your social presence, it’s imperative that your social channels align with your brand messaging and appearance. If your brand voice differs across your channels, you set up consumers for disappointment and show a lack of true identity. Not good.
5 tips for getting the most from your company’s social media
• Become a resource by sharing relevant information and solutions to problems people face – it’s not always about the hard sell
• Spend time listening to your audience as it may uncover concerns or even gaps in the market
• Don’t wait for people to come to you – be proactive by starting conversations and connecting with your audience
• Ensure your brand voice is communicated throughout your profiles, statuses and replies, even down to your Call To Action.
• Your brand’s voice is just as prominent in visual content as it is in written. Ensure that the images you use lead back to your own brand. For example, Made.com have chosen a colour palette of grey and ochre and based their imagery around this.
To find out more about how to get the most from your social media channels read our guide to The What, Why and How of Social Selling.
Developing content guidelines
With many people often working on your brand’s content, consistency can be lost without structured content guidelines. Simply put, these are a set of rules that help you achieve consistency.
It covers aspects such as grammar, language, formatting and tone of voice, as well as intent.
Here are our top considerations to cover:
- Write for your user: By this stage you’ve identified your target audience. You know who they are and what they want, but at what stage of their journey does the content sit in? Are they still getting to know your brand, or are they now looking at which of your products are most suited to them?
- Make it original: There’s no point copying someone else’s idea. By all means take inspiration but always put your own spin on your content. Take into consideration seasonal and industry trends.
- Relate to your business values: Tie each piece of content to your core business values.
“Each piece of content should be related to a core value. These will make you unique from your competitors and can be reinforced with your target audience.”Mike Essex, Marketing Expert
• Make sure you content adds value: Your audience is looking for value, whether that’s answering a question or offering a solution to a problem.
• Use simple language: Avoid jargon and use simple, short sentence structures
• Maintain your tone of voice: Consistency helps develop trust and develop brand recognition. Follow the content style guidelines.
• Include keywords: Carry out keyword research for your content using AdWords Keyword Planner and other tools. You then need to use them sparingly and naturally in your copy. Long gone are the days of keyword stuffing!
If you need inspiration, look no further than the Guardian’s style guide. It’s one of our favourites.
Digirank – Helping to grow brands online
At Digirank, we help brands with their online presence all day every day. We understand the power of digital marketing and how to harness it to achieve our client’s goals. To find out more about our unique bespoke approach to digital marketing call us today on 0117 923 2021 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.