Branding is such a massive topic that you can write an entire book about it (actually, there are already several hundred books in existence about this very thing). Hell, you can have a course in an accredited university about branding (already exists). Okay, you can do an entire degree program about it! (Yep, that too.)

But let’s pretend we don’t want to read a whole book, or take an entire course, or spend four years of our lives studying branding. We just want a quick and dirty guide to learn the principles of branding and go back to our normal lives, running a business or whatever it is. Well, here we go.

What goes into building a good brand?

Again, with all caveats that one could search the Earth endlessly for answers to this topic, let’s look at five key factors that go into building a brand:

  • Consistency: Creating a consistent look, tone, and message for your brand helps build recognition and trust with your audience.
  • Clarity: Defining a clear brand message and positioning helps set you apart from competitors and makes it easier for customers to understand what you offer.
  • Differentiation: Your brand should offer something unique and different from others in your market to stand out and attract customers.
  • Relevance: Your brand should be relevant and appealing to your target audience and aligned with their needs and interests.
  • Authenticity: Building an authentic brand that is true to your values and beliefs helps establish trust and credibility with your customers.

Does branding affect sales? Really?

Hell yeah it does. Branding can have a significant impact on sales of a product or service. Here’s just a few ways how:

  • Increases Awareness: A strong brand can increase awareness and recognition among potential customers, making them more likely to consider the brand when making a purchase.
  • Differentiates from Competitors: Effective branding helps a product or service stand out from its competitors and can differentiate it in the minds of potential customers.
  • Builds Trust: A strong brand can build trust with customers by consistently delivering quality products or services and communicating transparently and authentically. We’ll come back to trust a lot in this article.
  • Creates Emotional Connection: Effective branding can create an emotional connection with customers by tapping into their values and desires. This emotional connection can drive repeat purchases and increase customer loyalty. Again, trust and authenticity are key components of creating–and maintaining–this connection.
  • Adds Value: A well-established brand can add value to a product or service by providing customers with a sense of quality and reliability, making it easier to justify a higher price point.
  • Supports Marketing Efforts: Effective branding supports marketing efforts by providing a clear and consistent message that can be used across all marketing channels, from advertising to customer service.

Overall, branding can play a crucial role in attracting and retaining customers, and can have a direct impact on the success and sales of a product or service.

What do you mean by “adding value”? Don’t all products or services “add value”?

To answer the first question: no. When we say “adding value,” we mean creating something of worth for a customer, product, service or business that exceeds the cost or investment involved. It can refer to a tangible or intangible benefit that enhances the overall experience or improves the perceived value of a product or service.

In the context of branding, adding value can refer to the ways in which a brand’s offerings, customer service, or overall experience provides customers with something of worth beyond the product or service itself. This can include benefits such as a positive brand image, a convenient customer experience, or a sense of quality and reliability.

Adding value is a crucial aspect of branding, as it helps to differentiate a brand from its competitors and create a stronger emotional connection with customers. By consistently delivering value to customers, a brand can build customer loyalty, increase customer satisfaction, and drive sales growth.

The Apple brand builds value.

One specific example of a brand that adds value is Apple. Apple has built a reputation for creating high-quality, user-friendly products with a sleek and modern design. The brand offers a range of products, from smartphones to laptops, that are designed to simplify and enhance the user experience.

In addition to the quality of its products, Apple also adds value through its retail stores, which offer a unique and personalized shopping experience. Customers can receive one-on-one support and advice from trained Apple specialists, try out products before they buy, and attend workshops and events.

Furthermore, Apple has created a strong brand image that is associated with creativity, innovation, and cutting-edge technology. This image adds value to the brand by making it appealing to customers who value these qualities.

Overall, Apple adds value by offering a range of high-quality products, a unique retail experience, and a strong brand image that enhances the customer experience and supports the overall value of the brand.

Prove it.

The most popular Apple product is likely the iPhone. Since its introduction in 2007, the iPhone has become one of the most widely used smartphones in the world and has been a major driver of Apple’s success. The iPhone is widely regarded as a benchmark for smartphone design and technology and continues to be one of Apple’s best-selling products, with millions of units sold each year. The popularity of the iPhone is due to its sleek design, user-friendly interface, and the wide range of features and apps that it offers.

But all smartphones are, in a sense, miracles of modern technology. Take any phone from the last sixteen years and bring it back in time just a few decades–say, the 1970s. You’d be considered a sorcerer, and perhaps burned at the stake. So why is the iPhone so damn popular, and so damn iconic?


What is brand differentiation?

A key aspect of building a brand is being able to set it apart from all of the other similar products and services. Again, how and why is iPhone different than all the other smartphones that all do pretty much the same thing? Well, brand differentiation is the process of creating a unique and distinguishable image for a brand that sets it apart from competitors in the marketplace. The goal of brand differentiation is to create a unique brand identity that customers can recognize and associate with specific benefits and attributes.

Brand differentiation can involve a variety of elements, including the brand’s name, logo, messaging, packaging, and overall look and feel. It may also involve the creation of unique brand experiences, such as exceptional customer service, innovative products or services, or engaging marketing campaigns.

The purpose of brand differentiation is to create a competitive advantage and increase brand recognition, awareness, and loyalty among customers. A successful brand differentiation strategy can help a brand stand out in a crowded marketplace, build customer loyalty, and drive sales growth.

How to pinpoint your target audience for your brand.

Since so much of branding has to do with connecting to a specific target audience (even if that audience is enormous), let’s spend a few minutes discussing how to actually define them.

Finding a target audience for your brand involves identifying the group of people who are most likely to be interested in and benefit from your product or service. Here are a few steps you can take to find your target audience:

  • Conduct Market Research: Gather data on your existing customers and market trends to better understand your target audience’s needs, wants, and behavior patterns.
  • Define Personas: Create detailed customer personas that represent your ideal customers based on the data you’ve collected.
  • Analyze Demographic Information: Consider demographic information such as age, gender, income, education level, and geographic location to better understand your target audience’s characteristics.
  • Evaluate Customer Pain Points: Determine the challenges and problems that your target audience faces and consider how your product or service can help solve them.
  • Monitor Social Media: Use social media to monitor conversations and feedback from your target audience and gain insights into their behavior and interests.
  • Conduct Surveys: Conduct surveys or focus groups to gather direct feedback from potential customers and validate your understanding of your target audience.

By taking these steps, you can build a clear picture of your target audience, including their needs, wants, and behaviors. This information can help you create a more effective brand strategy and tailor your marketing efforts to reach and engage your target audience.

“Pain points”? What are you talking about?

Sometimes the marketing jargon gets ahead of us. Evaluating your customer’s pain points involves identifying the challenges and problems that they face, and understanding how they relate to your product or service. It’s more simple than it seems. Here are a few ways to evaluate your customer’s pain points:

  • Listen to Customer Feedback: Gather customer feedback through surveys, social media, email, or other channels and listen to what they have to say about their experiences.
  • Observe Customer Behavior: Observe how your customers interact with your product or service and identify areas where they may experience frustration or difficulties.
  • Conduct Focus Groups: Organize focus groups with your customers to discuss their experiences and pain points in more detail and gather insights into their needs and wants.
  • Analyze Competitor Feedback: Look at what your competitors’ customers are saying about their experiences and identify areas where you can differentiate and improve.
  • Monitor Industry Trends: Stay informed about industry trends and new technologies that could impact your customers’ pain points and requirements.

By evaluating your customers’ pain points, you can gain a deeper understanding of their needs and identify areas where you can improve your product or service. This can help you create a more effective brand strategy that resonates with your target audience and drives business growth. It can help you be more authentic with your brand. Which is a great segue…

Why is authenticity so important to brand-building?

Authenticity refers to the quality of being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character. In the context of branding, authenticity refers to the degree to which a brand aligns with its values and beliefs, and communicates these in a transparent and honest way.

An authentic brand is seen as genuine and trustworthy by customers, and is able to build a strong emotional connection with them. Authenticity means being consistent in the messages and actions of a brand, and avoiding artificial or inauthentic practices that undermine the trust of customers. By being authentic, a brand can differentiate itself from competitors and establish a strong reputation and relationship with its target audience.

Establishing trust and credibility with an audience is key to converting them into paying customers. An authentic brand also helps build a strong emotional connection with customers, which can lead to increased loyalty and advocacy. Customers today are increasingly discerning and value brands that are transparent and honest in their communication and actions. By being authentic, a brand can differentiate itself from competitors and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Keep in mind that like all concepts and perceptions, one’s “authenticity” is subjective and can vary from person to person. Different people may have different opinions on what constitutes an authentic brand and which brands embody these qualities. However, some brands that are often cited as examples of authenticity in branding include Patagonia, The Honest Company, and Warby Parker. These brands are known for their transparent and ethical practices, strong values, and consistent brand messaging, which have helped them build a strong emotional connection with their customers. Ultimately, the most authentic brand is the one that aligns its values, beliefs, and actions with the needs and expectations of its customers.

Why is Warby Parker an authentic brand?

Warby Parker is considered an authentic brand for several reasons:

  • Mission-driven: Warby Parker has a clear and stated mission to make high-quality eyewear accessible and affordable for everyone. This mission is reflected in their business practices and product offerings, and has helped them build a strong reputation and relationship with their customers.
  • Transparent and Ethical: Warby Parker is transparent about their business practices and is known for being a socially responsible company. For example, they have a “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program that donates a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair purchased.
  • Consistent Branding: Warby Parker has a strong and consistent brand identity, from their distinctive product design to their quirky and approachable marketing campaigns. This consistency has helped them build recognition and trust with their customers.
  • Innovative Business Model: Warby Parker disrupted the traditional eyewear industry by offering high-quality products at affordable prices through a direct-to-consumer business model. This innovative approach has helped them stand out and attract customers who are looking for a more accessible and transparent option.

Overall, Warby Parker’s commitment to their mission, transparent and ethical practices, consistent branding, and innovative business model have helped them establish a strong reputation as an authentic brand.

Authenticity covers all aspects of a brand, from the name to the packaging.

When we talk about authenticity, we mean it. It covers all aspects of the brand, from the voice on social media to the logo to the experience in the store. It comes down, even, to packaging! We think authentic packaging for a brand means that the packaging represents the values, beliefs, and qualities of the brand. It is packaging that is true to the brand’s identity and that aligns with the expectations and needs of the target audience.

What does this mean? Well authentic packaging should reflect the brand’s personality, tone, and messaging. For example, a brand that values sustainability might use eco-friendly materials in its packaging, while a brand that prioritizes simplicity might use minimalist packaging designs.

The packaging should also provide customers with clear and accurate information about the product, including its ingredients, usage instructions, and any relevant certifications or certifications. This helps to build trust and credibility with customers.

Overall, authentic packaging is an important aspect of branding because it helps reinforce the brand’s identity and values and provides customers with a positive and memorable brand experience.

What not to do.

It’s easy to run astray of best practices, and if you do it wrong, your brand can experience so pretty negative PR and repercussions in the actual sales figures. Brands face criticism for being inauthentic, and this shows up in the following ways:

  • Greenwashing: Brands that make false or exaggerated claims about their environmentally-friendly or sustainable practices are often seen as inauthentic by consumers.
  • Copycat Brands: Brands that mimic the style, design, or messaging of established brands in order to appeal to similar audiences can be seen as inauthentic.
  • Deceptive Marketing: Brands that use misleading or false advertising claims, such as exaggerating the benefits of a product or hiding negative information, can also be seen as inauthentic.
  • Inconsistent Messaging: Brands that send mixed or conflicting messages through their advertising, products, or customer service can also be perceived as inauthentic.
  • Lack of Transparency: Brands that are not transparent about their business practices, such as hiding information about their suppliers or manufacturing processes, can also be seen as inauthentic.

Overall, inauthentic brands can damage a company’s reputation and erode consumer trust, which can have negative effects on its success and growth.

How? Well, let’s count the many ways:

  • Loss of trust: Consumers are increasingly discerning and expect brands to be transparent and honest. When a brand is perceived as inauthentic, it can lose the trust of its customers, making it difficult to establish a loyal customer base.
  • Decreased brand loyalty: Inauthentic brands are less likely to build a strong emotional connection with customers, which can result in decreased brand loyalty. Customers are more likely to switch to other brands that they perceive as more trustworthy and authentic.
  • Damage to brand reputation: Inauthentic brands can harm their reputation and damage their brand equity, which can have long-term effects on their sales and financial performance.
  • Decreased word-of-mouth marketing: Customers are less likely to recommend an inauthentic brand to others, which can decrease the brand’s visibility and reach.
  • Legal implications: Inauthentic brands may also face legal consequences for deceptive or false advertising, which can harm their reputation and credibility.

Overall, inauthenticity can erode consumer trust and reduce the appeal of a brand, which can negatively impact its sales and overall success. It is important for brands to maintain authenticity in their messaging, products, and practices in order to build trust and credibility with their target audience.

Consider trust when it comes to a ride share service. Would you get into the car of a random stranger, or of someone you didn’t trust?