How to do branding – A comprehensive guide

Brand & Product ManagementBrand CommunicationSocial Media and Content
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A brand encapsulates the identity, values, mission, and personality of a company. It goes far beyond just a logo or tagline – your brand is the very essence of what your business stands for and how you aim to serve customers. This guide will guide you on how to do branding – which can be hard and confusing.

At its core, your brand communicates who you are as an organization. It expresses your overarching vision, purpose, and principles that guide your work. By clearly defining these foundational brand pillars, you can convey to customers what unique value you bring to the marketplace.

For example, a brand like TOMS Shoes builds its entire identity around the mission of using business as a force for good. Through its “One for One” model of donating a pair of shoes for every purchase, TOMS demonstrates its core value of compassion in action. This mission-driven ethos permeates all aspects of the brand.

Your brand also extends to messaging, verbal tone, visual aesthetics, and more. It shapes the customer experience across every touchpoint. From logo designs to website copy to social media campaigns, branding elements should aim to create a cohesive identity that customers can recognize instantly.

When the Starbucks logo appears on a cup, bag, or app, that iconic green siren and font convey a consistent experience customers have come to expect from the brand. Apple’s sleek, minimalist aesthetic and Wendy’s fiery red pigtails evoke each brand’s personality at a glance as well.

Impactful branding serves as a promise to customers about your offerings. It encapsulates who you are, what you stand for, and how you aim to satisfy their needs. The very best brands become woven into the lifestyles and identities of customers themselves.

Consider how Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan or Coca-Cola’s contoured bottle have entered public consciousness far beyond just commercial purposes. These brands have forged deep emotional connections rooted in shared values like achievement or happiness.

Great branding also drives real financial value by allowing companies to command higher prices, withstand crises, foster loyalty, and boost bottom lines. By clearly conveying your purpose to the world, you can establish your organization as one worth supporting for the long haul.

How to do branding and why it matters

Branding is hugely important for every business, no matter the size or industry. Crafting an impactful brand identity brings immense value in multiple ways. Specifically, effective branding builds recognition and trust, emotionally connects with customers, allows you to stand out from the competition, and reinforces consistency as well as quality.

First and foremost, strong branding establishes name recognition and trustworthiness. When customers can instantly spot your brand, it signals legitimacy and authority in their minds. Even if they have not yet tried your products, familiar logos and slogans give a sense of reassurance that you are a reliable company.

Consider how seeing the Nike Swoosh or McDonald’s Golden Arches immediately sparks recognition, even from a significant distance. This brand awareness makes customers far more likely to ultimately convert to sales compared to completely unknown brands.

Vertically integrated brands also benefit from reinforced trust across business segments. For example, Disney’s consistent theming and messaging across its parks, films, merchandise, and media properties allows the brand to become an established household name that families turn to for entertainment.

Great branding also forges emotional connections by conveying what a company stands for at a deeper level. Going beyond surface-level messaging, iconic brands tap directly into consumer motivations and beliefs. They sell a bigger vision rather than just products.

For example, sustainability-focused brands like Tesla or The Body Shop inspire loyalty through shared values like environmentalism. Brands can also tap into emotions like nostalgia – Coca-Cola and Disney both leverage sentimental themes of childhood joy and wonder. This builds lasting bonds rooted in identity rather than simple utility.

Additionally, compelling branding sets you apart from competitors to carve out a unique niche. Rather than blending into a sea of similar offerings, the right brand identity signals exactly how you aim to satisfy customer needs in a distinct way.

Messaging centered on innovation helps position Apple as a pioneer within the tech space, while funky, youthful branding allows brands like Vans to own the skater demographic. Whether through showcasing product differences or appealing to very specific segments, branding allows businesses to stake their own territory.

Strong branding also unifies diverse products into a cohesive experience customers can expect every time. Hitting the same touchpoints of visuals, messaging, tone, and more across channels reinforces quality and consistency.

From commercials to packaging to customer interactions, Disney’s magical brand experience transports audiences into another world entirely. This level of immersion strengthens perceptions of Disney as a trusted source of beloved storytelling.

Lastly, thoughtful branding conveys long-term reliability to customers as well. The most iconic brands withstand the test of time even amidst rapidly evolving consumer landscapes. Coca-Cola’s script logo and secret formula are recognized globally even 130 years later while still adapting to modern tastes and trends.

When customers see your unchanging brand as a fixed point over decades, it signals your steadfast presence as a business able to carry them into the future. This grants tremendous competitive edge along with financial gains.

Branding shapes the very heart of how the world perceives your business. It informs customer opinions, emotions, associations, and decisions on a deeper level than any single transaction. An investment into thoughtful brand-building pays off exponentially in recognition, relevance, and revenue over the years.

The master plan – How to do branding

Developing a strong brand takes thoughtful planning and execution across several key areas. The brand building process involves defining your purpose and values, researching your target audience, crafting consistent messaging and visuals, and ultimately integrating your brand identity across channels.

Identify your purpose and values

The first step in branding is to identify your organization’s core purpose and values. These central pillars inform all other branding decisions, keeping your message aligned with what truly drives your business.

Clearly outline the vision, mission, and defining principles guiding your work. What societal needs do you aim to fulfill? How does your business contribute value to customers’ lives? What change do you want to create in the world?

Your brand purpose might be informed by goals around innovating new products, empowering communities, promoting sustainability, or celebrating self-expression. Know the deeper motivations fueling your organization at its foundation.

From there, determine the core values that embody those motivations in more specific ways. If environmentalism lies at the heart of your brand purpose, related values might include transparency, accountability, stewardship, regeneration, or compassion.

Defining these values then allows you to convey what sets you apart to audiences. Leading with purpose and convictions can foster far deeper customer loyalty than surface-level features or benefits alone.

Research your target udience

With your brand purpose established, the next step involves understanding your target demographics and psychographics.

Demographic research focuses on segmenting groups based on hard data like location, age, gender, income level, education status, and more. This quantitative data offers helpful high-level insights on potential customers.

However, demographics alone don’t determine motivations. For deeper insights, explore psychographic profiling using qualitative data around attitudes, priorities, interests, values, lifestages, and personality traits.

Survey individuals in your target segments to discover what resonates most. What concerns do they have? What brands do they currently admire and why? What messaging strikes an emotional chord? Where do they spend their time online? The more you know about what makes your audience tick, the better you can tailor branding to fit their needs.

Create your messaging

With your target audience researched, begin crafting tailored messaging across verbal and visual brand touchpoints. This messaging should reinforce your core purpose and values while appealing to the psychographics of those you aim to serve.

One of the most important brand messaging elements is your company or product name itself. Choose a name that conveys your offerings or experience in some way while also being unique, memorable, and emotionally evocative.

From there, consider brand taglines or slogans that summarize your purpose. Nike’s “Just Do It” captures themes of achievement and perseverance in just three words, while De Beers’ “A Diamond is Forever” romanticizes eternal commitment and luxury.

In addition to names and slogans, develop branding language around your personality and voice. What tone best fits your brand – serious or silly, warm or professional, pragmatic or aspirational? Build thematic messaging around this voice that tells your brand’s story across platforms.

Design your visual brand

In tandem with fine-tuning your verbal identity, create cohesive visual elements as well. Impactful visual branding makes your company instantly recognizable at a glance.

Start by designing an iconic, versatile logo to represent your brand in any situation. Logos condense your brand essence into an symbolic, identifiable mark. Consider imagery, color schemes, typography, spacing, and other elements that tie back to your core identity.

From your logo, build out supporting branding assets like a style guide documenting details like:

  • Primary/secondary color palettes
  • Approved fonts or typographic treatments
  • Graphic elements, frames, illustrations
  • Iconography
  • Image selection criteria
  • Tone and voice guidelines
  • Grid structures and layout formats

Align these visual identity elements across online, print, and physical touchpoints for maximum consistency. From branded packaging to branded environments, weave in verbal and visual brand markers across the customer journey.

Now integrate Your Brand

With foundational branding work done around identifying purpose, researching audiences, crafting messaging, and designing visual assets, what matters next is diligent execution. Meticulously integrate verbal and visual brand markers across every possible customer and employee experience.

Externally, permeate branding throughout all public-facing communications and environments. Ensure brand consistency across platforms like:

  • Digital presences: Website, mobile apps, social media accounts, online ads, email newsletters
  • Print materials: Business cards, letterhead, brochures, posters, fliers, signage, branded merchandise
  • Product packaging: Labels, wrappers, bags, boxes, containers
  • In-person settings: Office/store décor, displays, trade show booths, pop-up shops, signage
  • Advertising: Commercials, radio spots, online video ads, product placement
  • Sponsorships: Events, causes, influencers, partnerships
  • Media engagement: Press releases, newsletters, executive thought leadership

Internally, align staff behaviors, attitudes, and environments with brand identity for holistic reinforcement. Tactics include:

  • Brand education: Training programs explaining brand standards and desired culture to embody values
  • Recruitment/hiring: Seeking talent whose personal ethos matches the organization’s
  • Leadership messaging: Executives and managers setting an example for brand-aligned conduct
  • Office design: Décor, artwork, color schemes, and layouts that reflect the brand aesthetic
  • Shared vocabulary: Using consistent language and messaging points informed by brand voice

Essentially, the brand should permeate every possible area it can across both external-facing and internal domains. From customer support conversations to sales presentations to trade show interactions and beyond, eliminate disconnects between branding and reality.

When aligned across all experiences, an immersive brand environment takes shape. Familiar visual cues and tonal voice everywhere reinforce the brand relationship and promise. This consistency cements trust and recognition while allowing deeper emotional connections over time.

Track and Iterate

While consistency matters enormously, brands must also continually track performance and iterate appropriately. An unchanging brand risks declining relevance amidst rapidly evolving landscapes.

Deploy both quantitative data gathering and qualitative research to gauge brand resonance. Metrics to continually monitor include:

  • Sales or lead conversion rates
  • Web traffic and engagement
  • Social following growth
  • Referral or word-of-mouth rates
  • Retention/loyalty rates
  • Brand awareness and sentiment surveys
  • Reviews and customer feedback

Combine performance data with regular consumer research through focus groups, interviews, community polls, and more. Probe perceptions, values, motivations, and emotional connections to your brand along with that of competitors.

These insights allow you to iterate brand messaging or positioning while retaining core integrity and purpose. Refine verbal tone and visual aesthetics to better appeal to target demographics. Expand your reach to new markets or release updated products catering to emerging consumer needs.

For example, Coca-Cola’s brand purpose centers on capturing youthful optimism and joy. While largely retaining classic brand identifiers like its script logo and ribbon iconography, Coca-Cola expands into new variants like Cherry Coke or seasonal holiday flavors to maintain contemporary resonance.

Meanwhile, a brand like LEGO continually adapts to current trends by releasing new product lines around beloved entertainment franchises from Star Wars to Harry Potter to Minecraft. This allows LEGO to tap into emerging generational interests while retaining its core identity anchored in creativity and fun.

Additionally, track brand performance through major events like crises or leadership changes. How brand perceptions evolve around external factors offers critical learning opportunities as well.

Brand integrity does not mean rigidity – be willing to make changes when existing efforts clearly lag. But never lose sight of the heart and soul at the center of all messaging and experiences.

With balance between consistency and fluid iteration, brands can drive evergreen relevance while retaining the recognizable identities that foster trust over decades. Track resonance without fear to ensure your brand stays culturally embedded for eras to come.

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