We’re about to discuss how you can start to
Understanding What is “Brand”
The word ‘brand’ was derived from farmers marking their cattle with a logo or trademark so that they would be recognised as their own. From this, you might infer that your logo or trademark is synonymous with your brand but this isn’t really the case these days. The word brand has evolved into something far more intangible than that. Your brand is what’s described by the great Marty Neumeier as, “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organisation.”. This translates as any touchpoint your customer has with your services that convey an idea, feeling or promise to them. This includes your logo but also your customer service, the way you answer the phone, the design of your website and even where you position yourself in the market! At any point your customer comes into contact with you is an opportunity to convey a consistent and relevant image of who you are and what you stand for. In the same way, your brand should be easily identifiable but as you’ll learn, being identifiable is the sum of many attributes. If you’re interested to learn more, we speak about this in our blog post about what Brand Strategy is.
So given this, how do you start to build your brand? Here at Jupiter and the Giraffe we follow a tried and tested process that enables us to understand your unique proposition, even if you don’t quite know what that is yet.
If you’re speaking to everyone then, unfortunately, you’re speaking to no one. Understanding your place in the market not only allows you to hone in on your understanding of your brand, but it also makes good business sense as you’re the one person to go to for that specific problem. If they recognise you as the industry leader then you will become the business to approach for that particular problem. There are many types of positioning strategies that you can employ.
Types of Positioning Strategies
- Product features/benefits
You may wish to position yourself based on your features or benefits. If you’re a service it may be the services you offer. Although this should play a part in your brand positioning, we wouldn’t recommend this as the chances you are offering something completely new are relatively low.
Price is another way you can segment yourself. High price often portrays high quality, notice I say “portrays” – just because you offer a high priced product doesn’t necessarily equate to high quality. There are examples where this tactic works but it’s a risky game to play. It’s not just your product that should deliver but everything around it should warrant that high price. With a high price comes high expectations.
Similarly to price, there are certain associations that come with positioning yourselves based on quality, but once again this doesn’t necessarily mean high quality, high price. As technology becomes faster and less expensive organisations are able to offer great quality at low prices.
An exercise you might like to run is to map out your competitors on a chart and where they sit on the price/quality spectrum. The chart may look something like this…
If you’re at the beginning of your journey, this is a great place to start but in some cases, this might call for a reposition. There have been cases of very successful repositions by organisations through developments in the marketplace or an intentional shift into a new market. Repositioning should forever be a consideration for any business looking to lead in the market. This requires listening and being aware of shifts and developments and having a proactive rather than reactive mindset.
We’ll cover repositioning in depth in another post so stay tuned…
Understanding your position in the market via your offering is one small part to your offering. At Jupiter and the
[Company Name] is THE ONLY (category)
THAT (differentiation characteristic)
IN (market geography)
WHO (need state)
DURING (underling trend)
For context, Harley Davidsons is as follows…
Harley Davidson The ONLY motorcycle manufacturer THAT makes big, loud motorcycles FOR macho guys (and macho “wannabees”) mostly IN the United States WHO wants to join a gang of cowboys DURING an era of decreasing personal freedom
You must fill in the blanks but as you can see there are several areas that drill further and further into your niche. This represents your promise to your customers. Your brand should live and breath this promise with every touch point going forward and will likely play a key role when we get to actually creating your brand assets. This is a great exercise in understanding your position in the market. Pay close attention to the “Underlying trend”. This helps you clarify your purpose. At Jupiter and the Giraffe, we run a modification on the Onliness Statement which we feel enables us to facilitate a fun exercise to develop what is essentially your positioning statement.
With all that done, you should have a strong idea about who you are and why you do what you do. Next, you must begin to think about your customers as after all, without your customers your business will fail.
Develop User Personas
The reason why you need to think about your customers comes down to relatability. You need to understand your users so that you are able to engage with them in a way that they can understand, using the same tone-of-voice that they might expect whilst solving any problems they might have. Having user personas gives you a person (albeit make-believe) to resolve all conflicts that may arise between you and your colleagues around a decision, design choice or feature of your brand. Resolving the conflict by asking what would X want, instead of what do we want. The way we do this is developing user personas. If you’ve never heard of a user persona before then quite simply it’s a make-believe person that represents a customer you might have or a desired customer. Persona’s can be based off your real customers (if you have them) or one persona can contain many attributes of different customers. It’s ok to generalise here but the result should be specific and represent one user.
If you find that you’re not targeting the right customers (another reason for a rebrand) then we believe it’s useful to create a single person based on a customer that you would like to be serving. You may even want to conduct actual market research to generate these user persona’s if you don’t already have a customer base. User Personas are most effective when they’re derived from real data.
There are many articles you can search for on how to generate user personas so we won’t go into that here but the most important aspect of these personas should be the problems or pain-points that they are having. This is key to making sure you’re serving that customer for a specific reason.
The number of user personas you create really shouldn’t exceed four. Beyond this, you start to lose clarity and focus and your brand will end up appealing to no one. Your user persona should, of course, contain a name. Use a photo of someone you feel best encapsulates the person in your mind so that you can bring this person to life. You can then look at the demographic of your customer – age, sex, where they are from, how much they earn, what they do for a living. You can even find this data out on Google Analytics if you have it installed on your website!
You should make a note of their archetype e.g. “Messy creative” or “Neat and tidy musician”. If you’re struggling to be creative then definitely check out the most common archetypes. You can then look at their personalities. This helps us make assumptions about how they might react in different scenarios. Go into as much depth as you feel is necessary.
With all that said, that’s just the groundwork to developing your brand. It’s important to know who you are, why you are different, who you serve and why you serve them. Understanding your promise and the values you hold is essentially your brand, just make sure you stick to this idea no matter what. We’re now going to talk about what we believe every new business should have. These are known as ‘brand assets’ and are what are typically confused as a brand. Your brand identity is the face of your business and should reinforce the values and emotions that you identified in the previous steps.
No surprise here, you need a logo. For us a good logo is one that addresses more than representing what you do. Your logo should be a manifestation as to the why you do what you do. For example, having a cloud computing business called “Cloud9” and your logo being nine clouds may look great (it won’t, nine is way too many clouds) but this shows that not much thought has gone into your logo and is a missed opportunity to connect with the right audience and create a logo with depth. On a piece of paper, start jotting down words that come to mind when you think about your business. Try and think about your values and words that represent these values. It’s ok to think about what you do but the aim is to keep it abstract. From those words, branch off further words so that we get more and more abstract. It can be tricky to get started but keep going with it and your hidden creative juices will start flowing. Eventually, something interesting might come through the woodwork. If you begin to run out of ideas, bring your customer into the equation. What would they expect from your logo? What are your competitors doing? There is no point re-inventing the wheel so looking at your competitors, using things that work can also be a useful way to get started.
It’s important to keep your logo simple as simple logos are more memorable. A convoluted logo is more difficult to remember, which makes it less likely for a person to recognise when they see it a second time.
Name?! Yes name! Once again, your name is a touchpoint with your customer. Why not take all that we have learned from discussing your business, your customers and your values and come up with a name that reflects that. It’s always fascinating when you discover the story behind the name and when there’s more than meets the eye.
Colours invoke emotion so play on colour psychology. It’s not always the same on every continent so be conscious of your market and use colours that represent your values and make sure they mean the right things in the right regions. Have at least two colours. One primary that you’ll use almost everywhere and a secondary that compliments it. Use a tool like Adobe Colou to help you. Note down the HEX value, RGB and, if possible the Pantone. Make sure that these are the only colours used whenever you create anything, there’s nothing worse than seeing 15 different shades of blue. Jupiter and the Giraffe’s Colour Palette
Typography is important too and you’ll want to have at least two typographic families or variants for maximum flexibility. The first is typically used for headers and possibly makes an appearance in the logo (look at Jupiter and the Giraffes “KG Summertime Storm” font) the other main font is for generic body copy. You’ll want something that is easily legible. There are some examples where the font looks pretty but is impossible to read! Don’t make this same mistake. Ask people if they can read your font. Broadly fonts can invoke meaning. You might consider serif (fonts with little bits of detail at the ends of the letters) as formal. Legal businesses or banks may choose to use this font. Sans-serif (without ‘details’) are more modern. If you’re at the stage where you’re putting your own brand together, go for a font that you like or check out some recommended font pairings from sites such as google fonts. Large organisations often design their own fonts and obviously, this is out of reach for most businesses starting out as its expensive.
There are situations where you may need more fonts but don’t overcomplicate things and only use two at one time. Just be warned, there’s no escaping the rabbit hole that is choosing a font!
Finally, one thing very few businesses think about when they first start their company is their tone-of-voice. Think about it, groups of friends often use the same words and speak in a similar way. Your business should also speak in a way that your customers find relatable. Your tone should further imply the values of your brand and what you say should be understood by the right people. Make your employees aware so that when they are engaging with potential clients, they are speaking in this same way.
Tone-of-voice is where your brands personality shines. It’s where you’re really engaging with your customers and not just any customers, the right customers. Think of three words that best summarise your business if it was a person and use these to develop your tone.
So we’ve breezed over how a company starting out can create it’s brand and start to develop its bare-minimum brand identity. We hope to release many more in-depth articles on the individual assets so look out for those but this should be enough to get you going.
A few more helpful things you could work on as a next step that equally portray your brand are…
Choose the photos you use wisely. This is an often overlooked aspect of your brand. What should be the subject of your photos? Should there be people in your photo? What are they wearing? Showing images of the people you expect to use your product is a great, easy way for people to feel affiliated with your brand. Also you may think more creatively and think of the style of the photography. The treatment of your photography should be the same in order to create consistency.
Every business needs a website. It’s the shop window to your product or service. Here, your brand assets will exist throughout the design of your site alongside any photography and the tone of voice you’ve established. Your website should encapsulate almost everything about your brand so don’t let this slip. Templates are great to get you started but when your brand evolves its important to move onto something more bespoke. Contact us if you’re in the market for a website.
Graphic elements can be as small or large as you deem fit. Little flourishes peppered throughout your design is a great way to identify your brand. Think of these like a birth mark that is unmistakably yours and have fun with them! Maybe this is something taken from your logo or something different entirely but make it relevant.
So there we are, you’ve just had a crash course in what a brand actually is and what it isn’t. Understanding your business and how it’s different, identifying the promise it’s making to its customers and having that shine through makes up your brand identity. Invest in the time to think about your brand assets and make them more meaningful than just something that reflects what you do – make it something about why you do what you do.