Hummingbird’s 2021 initiative to understand how professionals think about a strong brand revealed some surprising statistics: 35% of respondents said they aren’t sure they know all the elements of a strong brand.
Among those who aren’t as familiar with brand development and are less likely to prioritize it (we call those Disengaged Doubters), the number is even higher! 63% said they’re not sure what makes up a strong brand.
What’s more surprising is that all the participants have decision-making power when it comes to their company’s marketing budget. If they’re not sure what makes up a strong brand, how will they know how to spend those valuable marketing dollars?
At Hummingbird, we believe in living your brand as much as communicating it… Let’s talk about what that means and what a company needs to build a strong brand.
Aspects of Branding
Let’s start with the four aspects of branding that Hummingbird focuses on with our own clients. Most of you will recognize these…and most respondents in our study agreed they’re very important:
A brand strategy is a long-term plan to build your company's reputation and then grow it. A well-developed strategy delves into core values, customer insights, archetypes, voice, and brand persona. Leveraging brand strategy can be a valuable tool to optimize your marketing, increase sales in your business, and ultimately, increase its overall value.
Brand identity is the way your business presents its products or services. It’s the impression someone gets from interacting with your staff and using your products or services. A strong brand identity will help you stand out from your competitors, create a clearly defined voice, and become a recognizable name in your industry. It’s essential for any company that wants to be successful in the marketplace.
Brand awareness is all about how familiar current and potential customers are with your brand. HubSpot says, “Brands with high brand awareness are generally referred to as ‘trending,’ ‘buzzworthy,’ or simply ‘popular.’ Establishing brand awareness is valuable when marketing and promoting your company and products, especially in the early stages of a business.”
Reputation, credibility, and integrity form the foundation for brand loyalty. The purpose for building the foundation with those three things is to build trust. When you can earn your audience’s trust, you’ll more likely also earn their loyalty. Also, remember that when you’re working to establish brand loyalty, it’s important that you find your value, develop your unique voice, and let your customers know they matter.
Elements of Branding
How To Assess Brand Strength
Strategy, identity, awareness, and loyalty are where we concentrate with our clients. But how does your business build identity, awareness, and loyalty into your branding strategy… and in turn create a forever true customer base that’s sold on who you are and what you’re offering?
That’s where branding elements come into play. When talking about branding elements, so many companies focus only on the visuals… colors, logos, fonts, and other visual style elements. But getting the differentiation story right is what sells! And when we say getting it right, we mean telling it in a way that’s compelling and connects with your target audience
Just look at Amazon…The brand's visual elements are hardly noticeable, but Amazon is successful because their brand story is widely known and understood.
So, what are the branding elements your company should emphasize?
In Hummingbird’s 2021 study of marketing decision-makers, four key elements rose to the top:
1. Thought leadership
Also called position of expertise, thought leadership involves sharing your expertise with your audience. Content Marketing Institute puts it like this: “How you represent yourself, your reputation, and your authority on a topic contributes to whether you persuade your audience to follow your advice. The greater your authority, the more weight your words will carry.”
2. Messaging driven by the customer’s voice
Knowing who your customers are, what language they use, and what they think about your brand lets them help shape your brand message. When you have insights into who they are, your messaging can speak in their voices.
Wondering why that’s so important? It gives your customers ownership of your brand… and turns them into loyal advocates.
3. Website design
Incorporating visual elements, customer voice, and brand story, your website design should emerge from insights into what makes your company competitive and unique. It’s extremely important that it isn’t simply designed around what you like…To be effective, it should reflect the essence of your brand.
4. Brand story
Part of your brand’s essence is your brand story.
“A brand story recounts the series of events that sparked your company’s inception and expresses how that narrative still drives your mission today. Just like your favorite books and movies’ characters, if you can craft a compelling brand story, your audience will remember who you are, develop empathy for you, and, ultimately, care about you.”
Tell your brand story as often as you can. Use it in all of your communications. When you have a strong brand story, you solidify your company’s position in the marketplace.
Strong marketplace positioning leads to new business, market awareness and leads, and an increase in sales to existing customers.
Remember Amazon? We hardly notice the visual elements of the brand, but the brand story…? We all know it, and that’s part of what makes the company successful.
Even when you feel like your brand story is getting “old,” keep telling it. Your current customers may have heard it, but for prospects… It’s still fresh, so don’t stop sharing!
No company can get branding all right all the time. It’s an ongoing activity to tie to strategic planning and business goals. Because business changes so rapidly, you’ll always miss the mark a bit in at least one area. That’s why it’s important to work with branding experts at a high level to understand how your brand story can be better communicated and better understood.
When you need an expert to walk you through the branding process, reach out to the team at Hummingbird Creative Group. For 25 years, we’ve been collaborating with clients to communicate their brand story and position them well in the marketplace. Is it your turn?