The Ultimate Guide to Branding

Definitions, Checklists, Tools and How Tos

Branding is a crucial aspect of any business, regardless of its size or industry. It is the process of creating a unique identity and image for your business that sets it apart from competitors and resonates with your target audience. Branding is not just about designing a logo or choosing a color scheme; it’s about creating a cohesive and consistent message that communicates your company’s values, mission, and personality. In this blog post, we will explore the ultimate guide to branding, covering everything from developing your brand strategy to executing it across all marketing channels. Whether you’re a new startup or an established business looking to refresh your branding, this guide will provide you with the tools and insights you need to build a strong and memorable brand.

In this guide, we will cover the key elements of branding, including defining your brand, developing a brand strategy, creating a brand identity, and measuring your brand’s success. We will also provide examples and industry statistics to help illustrate each point.

What is Branding?

Branding refers to the process of creating a unique identity and image for a product, service, or company in the minds of consumers. It encompasses all the activities that are designed to create a memorable and distinctive identity for a brand, which sets it apart from its competitors.

Branding involves the use of various marketing tools and techniques to establish a brand’s position in the market, communicate its values and message to the target audience, and create an emotional connection with consumers. It involves the creation of a brand identity, which includes a brand name, logo, tagline, packaging, and other visual elements that represent the brand.

Branding also includes developing a brand strategy, which involves defining the target audience, identifying the brand’s unique selling proposition, and creating a consistent brand message across all communication channels. The brand strategy should align with the company’s overall business strategy and reflect its values, vision, and mission.

Branding is important because it helps a company differentiate itself from its competitors and create a loyal customer base. A strong brand can also increase the perceived value of a product or service, which can lead to higher sales and profitability. It can also help companies attract and retain talented employees and create a positive image in the eyes of stakeholders, including investors, regulators, and the public.

Here are few other definitions of branding:

  • “A brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception.” – David Aaker
  • “A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” – American Marketing Association
  • “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin
  • “A brand is not a product or a promise or a feeling. It’s the sum of all the experiences you have with a company.” – Amir Kassaei
  • “A brand is the DNA of a company, the core essence of who the company is and what it stands for.” – Scott Bedbury

A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.

Jeff Bezos

Brand Research & Insights

Before defining your brand, it’s important to conduct thorough research to ensure that you are creating a brand that resonates with your target audience and effectively communicates your values and mission. Here are some key areas to research:

  1. Target audience: Who are the people you are trying to reach with your brand? What are their values, interests, and behaviors? What pain points do they have that your brand can solve?
  2. Market research: Conduct market research to identify their needs, interests, and preferences. This will help you tailor your branding efforts to appeal to your target audience.
  3. Competitors: Analyze your competitors’ branding strategies to identify what works and what doesn’t. This will help you differentiate your brand from theirs and ensure that you are positioning yourself effectively in the market.
  4. Industry trends: Stay up-to-date on industry trends to ensure that your branding efforts are relevant and timely. This will help you position your brand as a thought leader in your industry and attract customers who are interested in the latest developments.

By conducting thorough research in these areas, you’ll be better equipped to define a strong brand that effectively communicates your values and mission and resonates with your target audience.

Branding Questions

Here are some questions to get you thinking:

  • What is the current perception of your business among customers and potential customers?
  • Who is your target audience and what are their needs and preferences?
  • What are the pain points or challenges that your client’s customers are facing?
  • How do you solve those problems?
  • What is your story of origin? How did you get started? Why did you start?
  • How does your company differentiate itself from the competition?
  • How do your customers perceive your company and/or brand currently?
  • What are the most important benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What is the mission and values of your company?
  • What are the personality traits of your company?
  • What channels are your customers using to interact with your brand?

Defining Your Brand

Before you can develop a brand strategy, you need to have a clear understanding of what your brand is and what it stands for. This includes defining your company’s mission, values, and unique selling proposition. At WaddyFletch, we guide teams and help clients develop these important items, but here is how it’s done:

Brand Archetypes

The concept of brand archetypes was first introduced by Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, and later expanded upon by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson in their book “The Hero and the Outlaw.” They identified 12 archetypes that can be used to understand and develop a brand’s personality and messaging. Here’s a brief explanation of each one:

  1. The Innocent: Pure, optimistic, and simple. They see the good in everyone and everything. Examples include Coca-Cola and Dove.
  2. The Explorer: Adventurous, restless, and free. They seek out new experiences and opportunities. Examples include The North Face and Jeep.
  3. The Sage: Wise, knowledgeable, and insightful. They seek truth and understanding. Examples include Google and The New York Times.
  4. The Hero: Courageous, determined, and inspiring. They strive to be the best and overcome challenges. Examples include Nike and BMW.
  5. The Outlaw: Rebel, rule-breaker, and revolutionary. They challenge the status quo and shake things up. Examples include Harley Davidson and Virgin.
  6. The Magician: Enchanting, transformative, and mysterious. They create wonder and inspire change. Examples include Apple and Disney.
  7. The Regular Guy/Girl: Friendly, genuine, and relatable. They are down-to-earth and easy to connect with. Examples include Budweiser and Wendy’s.
  8. The Lover: Passionate, sensual, and romantic. They create intimacy and connection. Examples include Victoria’s Secret and Godiva.
  9. The Jester: Humorous, playful, and lighthearted. They entertain and bring joy. Examples include M&M’s and Old Spice.
  10. The Caregiver: Compassionate, nurturing, and selfless. They help and support others. Examples include Johnson & Johnson and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
  11. The Creator: Innovative, imaginative, and artistic. They bring ideas to life and inspire creativity. Examples include Lego and Adobe.
  12. The Ruler: Powerful, authoritative, and confident. They lead and command respect. Examples include Rolex and American Express.

It’s important to note that a brand doesn’t have to fit perfectly into just one archetype, and there can be overlap between different archetypes. However, understanding these archetypes can be a helpful tool for developing a brand’s personality and messaging.

Mission Statements

A company mission statement is a brief and concise statement that defines the purpose and values of the company, as well as its core goals and objectives. It is a guide that helps the company to stay focused on its purpose and vision while making business decisions.

B2B Example
A good B2B (business-to-business) company mission statement should focus on how the company helps other businesses achieve their goals. It should highlight the value the company offers to its customers and how it differentiates itself from its competitors.

For example, IBM’s mission statement is “To be essential to our clients’ success by providing innovative technology solutions that enable them to transform their businesses.” This statement clearly defines IBM’s goal of helping its clients succeed through innovative technology solutions.

B2C Example
A good B2C (business-to-consumer) company mission statement should focus on how the company improves the lives of its customers. It should demonstrate the company’s commitment to providing high-quality products or services that meet the needs of its customers.

For example, Nike’s mission statement is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)” This statement reflects Nike’s commitment to inspire and innovate for everyone, regardless of their athletic ability.

To create a meaningful mission statement, follow these steps:

  1. Identify your company’s purpose and values: Your mission statement should reflect the company’s purpose and values. It should be a true representation of what your company stands for and what it hopes to achieve.
  2. Involve key stakeholders: Your mission statement should be a collaborative effort involving key stakeholders such as employees, customers, and investors. Their input can help you create a mission statement that truly reflects the company’s values and goals.
  3. Keep it concise: Your mission statement should be brief and concise, ideally no longer than one or two sentences. It should be easy to understand and memorable.
  4. Make it actionable: Your mission statement should be actionable. It should inspire the company to take action towards achieving its goals.
  5. Revise and refine: Finally, your mission statement should be revisited and refined as the company evolves and grows. It should remain relevant and meaningful to the company and its stakeholders.

Company Values

Company values are the core beliefs and principles that guide your company’s culture, behavior, and decision-making. They define what your company stands for, what it values, how it operates. and they provide a common language and a shared sense of purpose for employees, stakeholders, and customers.

To create company values, follow these steps:

  1. Define your company’s purpose and mission: Start by clarifying your company’s purpose and mission. What problem does your company solve, and what impact do you want to have on the world?
  2. Identify your company’s stakeholders: Identify the groups of people who are affected by your company’s operations, such as employees, customers, suppliers, investors, and the community.
  3. Brainstorm a list of values: Gather a diverse group of employees and stakeholders, and brainstorm a list of values that align with your company’s purpose and mission. Ask questions such as “What principles should guide our behavior?”, “What qualities do we want to embody as a company?”, and “What traits do we value in our employees?”
  4. Narrow down the list: Once you have a long list of values, prioritize them by importance and relevance to your company’s mission and stakeholders. Aim to have no more than five to seven core values.
  5. Define and communicate the values: Define each value clearly and provide examples of how it can be demonstrated in the workplace. Communicate the values to all employees, stakeholders, and customers through your website, employee handbook, marketing materials, and other channels.
  6. Embed the values into your company culture: Reinforce the values through regular training, recognition programs, and performance evaluations. Ensure that they are integrated into all aspects of your company’s operations, from hiring and onboarding to decision-making and strategy development.
  7. Review and update the values: Regularly review and update the values to ensure that they remain relevant and aligned with your company’s mission and stakeholders. Solicit feedback from employees, stakeholders, and customers, and make changes as needed.

Unique Selling Proposition

A unique selling proposition (USP) is a statement that defines what makes a product or service unique and valuable compared to its competitors. It is a way to differentiate a business and communicate its value to potential customers.

B2B Example
A good B2B USP should focus on how the product or service can solve a problem for another business. It should highlight the value it offers to other businesses and why it is a better choice than competitors.

For example, Salesforce’s USP is “No Software. No Hardware. No Headaches.” This USP emphasizes the simplicity of using Salesforce’s cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) platform for businesses looking to streamline their operations.

B2C Example
A good B2C USP should focus on how the product or service can improve the customer’s life. It should be clear, concise, and demonstrate the value of the product or service compared to others in the market.

For example, Airbnb’s USP is “Belong Anywhere.” This USP highlights the unique experience of staying in a local’s home, rather than a traditional hotel, while traveling.

To create a meaningful USP, follow these steps:

  1. Understand your target audience: You should have a deep understanding of your target audience’s needs, preferences, and pain points. This knowledge will help them create a USP that resonates with potential customers.
  2. Analyze your competition: You should analyze their competition and identify what makes them unique. This analysis will help you create a USP that differentiates your business from the competition.
  3. Identify your product or service’s unique benefits: You should identify what makes your product or service unique and valuable to potential customers. This could be a unique feature, a better user experience, or superior customer service.
  4. Be specific and clear: A good USP should be specific and clear. It should be easy to understand and communicate the product or service’s unique value.
  5. Test and refine: You should test your USP with potential customers and refine it based on feedback. This process will ensure that your USP resonates with customers and effectively differentiates your product or service from competitors.

Your brand values are the core principles that guide your business. For example, Patagonia’s brand values include environmentalism and sustainability, which is reflected in their products and marketing.

Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.

Elon Musk

Brand Messaging

Brand messaging refers to the language and messaging used by a brand to communicate its values, personality, and unique selling proposition (USP) to its target audience. It includes the words and phrases used in marketing materials, advertising campaigns, social media posts, and any other communication with customers or potential customers. Effective brand messaging should be clear, concise, and consistent across all marketing channels. It should also be tailored to the specific needs and interests of the target audience, and should be designed to create an emotional connection with them. Strong brand messaging can help a brand stand out from competitors and build brand loyalty among customers.

Here are some elements of every company’s brand messaging:

Brand Message

The first step in the messaging development process is to create your brand message. Your brand message or what we like to call the “big idea” informs your sales messaging and all aspects of your customer-facing communications. Your brand message is the story that your company tell customers about your products, as well as the specific style and manner in which you tell that story.
At the top of the food chain of messaging, questions to ask as you develop your brand message include:
  • What does your brand stand for?
  • What emotions should people associate with it?
  • How do you talk to your customers and prospects?
  • Is your image more casual and friendly, or more professional and buttoned down?

Sales Messaging

Your sales message is your pitch, where you make your case to potential customers and convince them that they should buy your product and services. You may have different sales messages depending on a variety of factors, including the audience, product, service, season, or any time-sensitive promotions you may have. But your sales messages must always reflect your overall brand messaging. You want to speak with a consistent voice and style so the overall impression of your products and services – and your brand – remains consistent and reliable.
Examples of key sales messages: “We were the first to…”, “We’re the largest…”, “We invented the…”, “We’re the only ones to…”, etc. Most sales messages follow a similar format:
  • Identify the problem. Appeal to your audience’s challenges and emotions. Get them thinking about these challenges and educate them on how you solve these problems. This builds trust, and shows that you “get it.”
  • Demonstrate value. Explain how your product or service solves these problem. Use research results, industry trends, market statistics, awards, testimonials, and specific examples to build your case.
  • State a call to action. Your call to action is probably the single most defining feature of branding and direct response marketing. Give your customers the tools and contact points they need to take action, such as a phone number or email address, a web form, shopping cart link or website link depending on the action you want them to take.

Brand Promise

A brand promise is a statement that communicates what a brand stands for and what it promises to deliver to its customers. It is a commitment that a brand makes to its customers and sets expectations for the experience they can expect to have with the brand. A brand promise typically goes beyond the products or services a brand offers, and instead focuses on the emotional benefits that customers can expect to receive from engaging with the brand. It should be clear, concise, and aligned with the brand’s values and overall brand strategy. A strong brand promise can help build trust and loyalty among customers, and differentiate a brand from its competitors.

Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a brief and persuasive speech that summarizes the key points of a business, product, or service in a short amount of time, typically around 30 seconds to 2 minutes. The name comes from the idea that the pitch should be concise enough to deliver in the time it takes to ride an elevator. The goal of an elevator pitch is to quickly and effectively communicate the value proposition of a business or product to a potential customer, investor, or partner, and capture their interest and attention. A strong elevator pitch should be clear, compelling, and tailored to the needs and interests of the audience. It should also differentiate the business or product from competitors and highlight its unique value proposition.

Pro Tip for Writing Your Elevator Pitch
Create a brief elevator pitch that inspires a person to ask, “tell me more.” Then write your response, which essentially a longer version of your elevator pitch once you know someone is interested in what you do.

Value Proposition

A value proposition is a statement or message that communicates the unique benefits and value that a product, service, or offering provides to its target customers or audience. It describes the specific problem or need that the product or service solves and explains how it differs from other available solutions in the market. A good value proposition should be clear, concise, and compelling, and should focus on the benefits that customers will receive, rather than simply describing the features of the product or service. Ultimately, a strong value proposition should help to differentiate a business from its competitors and convince potential customers that its offering is the best choice for their needs.

Brand Identity

Brand identity is a crucial aspect of any company’s success. It’s the way that your business presents itself to the world, and it’s how people will remember and recognize your company. A strong brand identity can help your business stand out in a crowded market, build trust with your customers, and ultimately drive sales. Here are the key elements that make up a company’s brand identity:

Logo: Your logo is the visual representation of your brand. It’s usually a symbol, wordmark, or combination of both that identifies your business. A good logo should be simple, memorable, and easily recognizable.

Color Palette: Your brand’s color palette is the set of colors that you use consistently across all of your marketing materials. Your colors should be chosen based on what best represents your brand and appeals to your target audience.

Typography: The font you use for your brand is an important part of your identity. It should be consistent across all of your marketing materials, and it should be legible and easy to read.

Imagery: The images you use in your marketing materials should reflect your brand’s values and appeal to your target audience. This can include photographs, illustrations, and other visual elements.

By paying attention to each of these elements, you can create a strong and memorable brand identity that will help your business stand out from the competition. Remember to be consistent in your use of each element and to always keep your target audience in mind.

WaddyFletch has built many brands from scratch, including TurboDry. We created this name, logo, brand, website and sales collateral in just five months. Check out the branding case study.

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.

Seth Godin

Brand Guides

A brand guide, also known as a brand style guide, is a document that outlines the visual and verbal messaging elements of your brand identity. It includes guidelines for your logo, color palette, typography, voice and tone, sales messaging, imagery, and more.

A brand guide is essential for any company because it helps to ensure that your brand is consistent across all marketing materials. This consistency is important because it helps to build trust with your customers and creates a strong and memorable brand image. A brand guide also makes it easier for employees and contractors to understand and use your brand’s visual and messaging elements correctly, which keeps your brand identity consistent and recognizable over time.

Your brand guide should be comprehensive and easy to understand. It should include examples of how to use your brand’s visual elements and messaging in different contexts, such as social media, print ads, and email marketing. It should also be updated regularly to reflect any changes to your brand identity.

At WaddyFletch, we have built dozens and dozens of brand guides from short and simple guides to comprehensive brand guides with over a hundred pages.

The Benefits of Branding

Great branding can help your grow in numerous ways, here are some examples:

Brand Recognition: When a company has a strong brand, customers are more likely to remember it and recognize it when they see it again. This can lead to increased brand loyalty and repeat business.

Higher Perceived Value: A strong brand can convey a sense of quality and trustworthiness to customers, which can make them willing to pay a premium for products or services associated with that brand.

Competitive Advantage: In a crowded marketplace, a strong brand can help a company stand out and differentiate itself from its competitors. This can be particularly important in industries where there are many similar products or services available.

Brand Advocacy: A strong brand can also inspire customer loyalty and advocacy, with customers willing to recommend the brand to others or even defend it against criticism. This can help to spread awareness of the brand and attract new customers.

Expansion Opportunities: As a company grows and expands into new markets or product categories, a strong brand can make it easier to establish a foothold and gain traction with customers who may not be familiar with the company’s offerings.

Overall, great branding is an essential component of a company’s success and growth, helping to build trust and loyalty with customers, differentiate the company from its competitors, and expand into new markets and product categories.

Additional Resources

Some of the best articles we’ve read on branding include: