Figuring out how to build a brand is a must-do for modern marketers.
Because consumers are overwhelmed with product choices.
This applies to B2B and B2C brands alike. A distinct brand identity determines whether you stand out from the crowd. Not to mention cementing what makes your company unique.
Consider that branding impacts just about every corner of your business. This applies to marketing campaigns, how you talk to customers and so much more.
With high stakes and many moving pieces, creating a brand strategy can be daunting.
Good news: our step-by-step breakdown of how to build a brand can help! Below we also share examples of how Sprout evolved from an SMB brand to an enterprise solution.
What is brand building?
Brand building is the process of developing and promoting your company’s identity, including:
- Messaging, such as the language you to address your customers and target audience
- Visual identity, including your company color scheme, logos and imagery)
- Principles and values, including your company’s mission and big-picture goals
- Value proposition, defining what makes your company unique
The details above are the big-picture pieces of what makes up a brand.
Meanwhile, the “building” happens through your marketing efforts. Any customer-facing materials, really. Your website, content marketing and social media presence all communicate your brand.
Important: brand building is an ongoing, long-term process. As industries involve and trends emerge, so do the expectations of your customer. This is especially true for SaaS brands.
Take a peek at Sprout’s website during the company’s earliest stages of brand-building back in 2010. To say that Sprout’s messaging and identity are unrecognizable is an understatement.
The site doesn’t scream “enterprise solution,” does it?
But hey, that’s the point!
Building a brand doesn’t happen overnight. There’s no one-size-fits-all roadmap, either. How you present your business is totally dependent on your audience and customers.
Well, that and how you position yourself within your industry.
How to build brand positioning
Positioning refers to how you present your brand relative to your target market. This market includes your customers, competitors and industry at large.
How you go about defining and building your brand is 100% within your control.
But how you position your brand is largely influenced by competitors and industry trends.
Budget versus premium. Big box versus boutique. Minimalist versus maximalist. The list goes on.
The fact that most industries today are crowded can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to positioning. For example, your industry might lack a specific or single “leader. This signals opportunity when it comes to positioning.
On the flip side, figuring out how to position yourself in an emerging or crowded industry is tricky.
For example, what pain points are you best equipped to solve? What do your customers need that isn’t being served by your competitors? Ask yourself the following:
- “What do we do best?” In your own words, what can you do better than anyone else in your space?
- “How do we do [x] differently?” Is your product or solution faster? Easier to use? Is your quality unparalleled?
- “Why us?” For example, Sprout Social offers an all-in-one social media management platform. We focus on extracting real business value from social media.
This blog post is a prime example of both brand building and positioning in action for Sprout.
Be mindful that while competitive analysis matters, don’t get obsessed. Focus on yourself first. Try to emphasize what you do well and let that define your brand the most.
Presenting yourself as an alternative to someone else doesn’t exactly put you in a better position.
How to develop your brand
Brand development involves the actual action items needed to build your brand. This means making and promoting marketing assets based on your identity and positioning.
Okay, you’ve defined your identity and positioning.
Now it’s time to make your brand both tangible and memorable to your target audience.
There are a lot of moving pieces here. Let’s break things down step-by-step.
Define and align marketing messaging
Start by outlining the language and marketing messaging you’ll use when speaking to your audience. This language should capture your tone and personality. Whether that’s totally formal or cool and casual depends on your brand.
Your messaging touches pretty much everything written in your brand’s voice. This includes landing pages, website copy and customer service calls. For example:
- What adjectives do you use to describe your brand, product or service?
- Are there any specific words or phrases you want to avoid when talking to customers?
- How do you ensure a warm, welcoming tone when speaking to customers and prospects?
Develop your visual identity
No surprises here. You’ll need to create a brand logo and agree on a color scheme. Your marketing visuals should make you instantly recognizable to your customers and audience.
Brands should really put their visual identity under the microscope. Do your homework prior to making any big branding decisions. You don’t want to copycat other companies or competitors.
Anything you can do to maintain consistency is a plus. Sure, Sprout’s visual identity has evolved over the years. That said, our core “sprout” imagery and colors have been relatively consistent.
Gather proof to support your positioning
“Show, don’t tell.”
The best way to cement your positioning is by proving that you do what you say you do.
Gathering case studies, testimonials and customer stories is integral to building a brand. These assets illustrate positive results and a chance to tell a relatable story.
For example, you can discuss the specific pain points you were able to solve (see below).
Creating and marketing content
Assuming you have all of the above nailed down, creating marketing assets is your next step.
This includes blog posts, videos, email sequences, ads and other content. These represent long-term commitments in your ongoing quest to build your brand. Your social presence, too.
How much you’ll need to create varies based on your specific business and industry. For example, B2B and B2C brands don’t have the same needs when it comes to blogging and creating video content.
How to build brand awareness
Brand awareness is the extent to which audiences are familiar with your identity, product and services.
Building awareness introduces your brand to potential new customers. At the same time, you’re staying top of mind with your existing ones. Awareness goes hand in hand with positioning and building your brand in general.
It’s important to note that awareness is quantifiable and not totally abstract. For example, you can measure brand awareness through metrics including:
- Website traffic
- Social media messages and @mentions
- Engagement (ex: social shares, views, saves)
- Social followers
- Conversations and sentiment analysis
Awareness isn’t something that happens by accident. This applies no matter how compelling your branding or product might be. In the case of Sprout, consider that there are nearly 10,000 martech products out there. Competition is likewise fierce for brands in the B2C space.
Below are a few actionable ways to build brand awareness via the channels available to you.
1. Be personable
Customers today want to feel authentic connections with the brands that they support. The seemingly simple act of treating people like people is a subtle way to build awareness.
This circles back to both your messaging and identity. Speaking to your audience in a way that’s warm and welcoming is always a smart move. Being personable is a subtle way to create connections as you figure out how to build your brand community on social media.
2. Use every available marketing channel
Okay, maybe not every channel.
But the sentiment remains the same!
Brands today are spoiled for choice in terms of where they can promote themselves. The key is to have an active presence wherever your audience hangs out. Likewise, creating ongoing resources and content can supplement the market channels you adopt.
Here’s a snapshot of the places you can build a brand and promote your content:
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Content marketing (blog posts)
- Employee advocacy
- Webinars and video marketing
The catch? You have to cast a wide net without spreading yourself or your team too thin. This speaks to the value of a social media management solution like Sprout. With Sprout’s platform, you can monitor the results of your marketing and post control across multiple channels.
3. Incorporate employee advocacy
Not everything associated with how to build a brand falls on the marketing team or C-Suite.
Building a brand is a company-wide effort. Enter the rise of employee advocacy.
The concept here is simple: empower employees to hype up your brand and cross-promote your content. The distinct voices of employees can inject some much-needed personality into your marketing. These voices can also reinforce your brand identity.
Consider that dozens of employees promoting your brand can earn way more reach than your brand account alone. Anything you can do to build brand awareness is a plus.
4. Sponsor events
Arguably one of the best ways to connect with customers is via events. Real-time interactions with your audience are an awesome way to make a lasting impression. Whether that’s through in-person events, conferences or digital events like webinars is up to you.
Through co-marketing, you can build your brand alongside other companies in your space. This typically involves collaborating on a piece of content, event or product launch. For example, Sprout Social partnered with Glewee for our Creator Economy report.
6. Guest blog
<Blogging and content marketing are must-dos if you’re in the B2C or SaaS spaces. Contributors to industry blogs do double duty of building awareness and thought leadership. While guest posts might seem like a significant investment upfront, they can pay off long-term.
Podcasting is popping off right now and serves as a way to build awareness and highlight your brand’s personality. Sprout’s own Social Creatures podcast is a great example. This particular podcast likewise highlights co-marketing in action. For example, Sprout has hosted brands like Oxfam and SXSW on the pod in the past.
8. Launch a brand campaign
Individual campaigns build awareness for specific initiatives. This might include a product launch or new feature that you want to highlight.
For example, Sprout has run many social media campaigns showing off notable features in action. The campaign below showed social media managers and users some love. At the same time, you can see the power of Sprout’s analytics at work.
Note: these types of campaigns require advanced planning and are separate from ongoing marketing efforts.
How to maintain a brand after you build it
Branding done right can help your brand stand out and thrive even in a crowded space.
We’ll bite: the process of building a brand isn’t quick or easy.
And after all, anything you build needs to be maintained.
Research, measurement and maintenance ensure that the foundation you’ve built remains strong. Doing so starts with keeping up with industry and competitive trends. Listen closely to conversations among your customers so you can build more brand loyalty.
Focusing on your audience and the value you provide should always be a priority. If you’re consistently serving your customers’ needs and have a pulse on them, you’re on the right track. Looking for more insight into brand management? Read more about five ways to bring your brand persona to life on social media.
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