The key to a successful business lies in its branding elements.
The most successful companies excel at creating unique, effective brands. Everyone knows what an iPhone is and the purpose of Apple’s flagship device. But what does Apple, the brand, stand for?
Creative campaigns. Sleek silhouettes. Everlasting elegance. Apple’s distinct, cohesive brand identity provides direction to the company’s marketing, acting as a guiding light.
But creating branding this successful isn’t easy. Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to define and promote their brand — especially first-time business owners.
We’re here to help you understand what branding includes and why it’s important. Plus, learn about seven essential branding elements that every business needs — big or small.
What is branding?
Branding is the process of shaping the public perception of a company and its products. It represents a business’s unique identity and acts as the foundation of marketing strategies. Every company projects its values, beliefs, and priorities through branding. These factors appeal to a specific audience, enabling companies to stand out from the competition and build a loyal customer base.
The importance of great branding
A strong brand can significantly impact your company’s success, giving you an edge over competitors and helping drive traffic toward your website and social media channels. Once you connect with your target audience, you can begin to leverage that relationship to your benefit.
Remember: Your business will gain a reputation whether you engage in branding or not. But with strong branding, you can shape customer expectations and forge a relationship that transcends the act of buying and selling products and services. Deliberately developing your branding gives you control over your brand’s image and perception and allows you to shape the narrative.
What are brand elements?
Brand elements are the unique aspects of your brand that create a uniform and recognizable image. While building a brand includes coming up with the visual design features necessary to create a unique look and feel for your brand — think the logo, for example — brand elements are the intangible aspects of your company. They guide all other aspects of your branding and shape how you interact with your audience.
Here are seven important elements to set a solid foundation for your brand.
1. Brand purpose
A brand purpose is the core reason for the company’s existence. Most companies exist to make a profit, but what else is your brand looking to accomplish?
Think of a company like Patagonia. The brand’s passion for the environment is twofold: enjoying the outdoors while protecting them. To match that passion, their purpose is creating the best product with the least environmental impact to protect nature. This company makes high-quality outdoor clothing and gear to help customers enjoy the outdoors while aiming to mitigate overconsumption — funding sustainability efforts while helping consumers limit their footprint.
2. Brand identity
A brand identity is what you present to the public, including your values and what people should take away from your content.
A brand’s visual identity refers to unique design features that customers easily recognize. This includes your brand name, logo design, color palette, fonts, and more. A company website needs to reflect your brand identity, but it isn’t encompassed by it.
Not all elements of a brand identity are visual — think brand jingles or signature sound effects — but much of conventional branding is focused on visual elements and the message they send.
Your brand identity should be evergreen — this means that it can remain relevant over time without falling into obscurity. To achieve this, avoid centering your branding around fleeting design trends or pop culture references. Think to yourself: Will someone understand or see the importance of this in five years? Opt for branding elements that are timeless and always relevant.
3. Brand positioning
Brand positioning is where your brand stands in the consumer landscape. Is your brand new to the scene? At the top of the market? Or somewhere in between?
Positioning takes targeting and audience segmentation to the next level. Think about a brand like Pepsi. They need to stand out as a competitor of Coca-Cola. Instead of trying to compete with Coca-Cola’s traditional, family friendly image, Pepsi opts for celebrity endorsements and over-the-top advertising. Pepsi continues to position their brand as the younger, cooler option — to find a new audience. Though the product is the same, the brand positions itself to attract a different target audience.
4. Brand voice
Like brand positioning, you must develop a voice that stands out in a crowded market to secure an audience. Your voice is a consistent personality and tone that’s used to evoke specific emotions and feelings. It humanizes your company and creates a tangible entity that consumers resonate with.
Use your brand voice according to your company’s values and position your brand’s personality in a way that connects you to your customers and, more importantly, allows them to connect with you.
5. Brand values
Brand values are the underlying principles and beliefs your company upholds. When your company’s values are clear, you allow people to connect to something beyond products and services. Brand values make a company relatable and give consumers the feeling they’re choosing a company that aligns with what’s important to them.
Over time, brand values mature and serve as a compass for your behaviors and interactions with competitors and consumers. If you’re Patagonia, it’s enjoying and protecting nature, and you naturally attract customers with similar values. Consider what’s important to you, your company, and its audience. What do you stand for?
6. Brand experience
Brand experience refers to the customer’s journey when interacting with your brand and its products and services. Consider how it feels to walk into a McDonald’s, order food, and eat your meal.
McDonald’s offers a similar experience worldwide, making the brand experience consistent and easily recognizable. But the brand experience isn’t limited to physical interactions — it extends to the brand’s website experience, social media, and other digital channels. These must all create a cohesive and signature feeling for customers.
Every way a customer interacts with your company shapes their experience. Visiting your site, going to a store, using a purchased product — these actions should complement each other and feel positive for the consumer. One faulty product or broken webpage can sour the brand experience, so make sure you’re achieving consistency in the digital and physical worlds.
7. Brand promise
A brand promise is the unique value proposition a company offers its target audience. This includes your mission statement and long-term goals. How do you plan to serve your customers? What can you promise them? How long will it take to fulfill those promises?
If you can confidently answer these questions, you’ve set a brand promise that establishes client expectations and makes your company accountable to living up to them. Once you achieve and exceed expectations, you’ll foster consumer trust and loyalty and boost your company’s reputation.
Make your brand stand out
Whether you’re looking to build your personal brand or are an aspiring entrepreneur aiming to create the next big ecommerce platform, having an online presence is essential to finding success. If you want to share your brand with the world, you’ll need a website — one that cohesively ties your branding elements together.
Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch. At Webflow, we offer loads of templates and examples for those looking for inspiration. If you want to start fresh, our visual web development tools remove the burden of coding, allowing you to design freely and creatively.