What Is Brand Building & When Should You Start Investing in Your Brand?
Brand building generates awareness of your company, values, and products and helps you present a consistent identity to the market.
Brand building is the process of developing and investing in your company’s brand long term. It helps to generate awareness of your company, its values, and its products by presenting a consistent brand identity to the market. In a survey of over 330,000 people across 15 markets, Morning Consult found that 88% of global consumers “would buy more from a brand they trust,” so building your brand can have a significant, long-lasting impact on your company’s bottom line.
What Brand Building Involves
Companies often think of brand building as the work involved in defining their visual identity, like their logo, color palette, and typography. But while visual identity is an important part of your brand, it’s just one part of the brand-building process. It also involves defining your company identity, mission, and values and helping your whole team understand how their work contributes to building your brand.
Setting a Clear Brand Identity
Your brand identity is what sets your company apart from your competitors. According to Harvard Business Review, “A clear, unified corporate identity can be critical to competitive strategy(...) It serves as a north star, providing direction and purpose.”
Your brand identity includes:
- Your visual identity, such as your logo, color palette, and visual style
- Your brand voice, tone, and personality
- The values that are most important to your company
- Your company’s mission and purpose
Developing a clear brand identity helps you build recognition within your target market by making it easier to achieve a consistent tone, visual style, and messaging. This helps to build trust with your audience because they get a consistent impression of your company across different channels and interactions.
Aligning on Your Internal Brand Values
Your brand values are a set of shared values that help employees and customers understand who you are and what your business stands for. They influence how you make decisions for the business and may impact your company’s overall mission and purpose, so aligning on your internal values is an essential part of the brand-building process.
Developing a shared set of brand values helps employees feel connected to your brand. It also means that your brand feels authentic to your customers because your values are a true reflection of your company rather than being dictated by one person or team.
If you have internal misalignment around your core brand values, that can cause mixed messages and impressions for customers. But authentic values will help you build a strong emotional connection with your customers because they associate your company with something bigger than your products. According to Adweek, “Consumers are no longer just looking for a specific product or service but looking for brands with values that line up with their own.”
Engaging Everyone in the Business
Building a strong brand involves everyone in the company. Brand building isn’t just a marketing project but rather a long-term process that involves every department – whether they realize it or not. Every team, from product to customer support, influences the experience that customers have with your products and their perception of your company.
Engaging all of your employees with your brand will help you build a stronger internal foundation for your brand. This makes it easier to present a consistent customer-facing brand because everyone has a shared understanding of what your brand means and how their role affects the customer’s perception of the business.
But employee engagement also helps your employees feel like they’re a part of something bigger. Everyone has one vision that they’re working toward, which helps them feel like they’re all part of the same journey. If your employees feel connected to the brand and its mission, they’re likely to feel happier at work, which helps improve employee retention.
Creating & Sharing Brand Guidelines
Presenting a consistent brand identity to customers is what builds brand recognition, so your employees should consider the brand experience whenever they interact with a client or customer. To do so, they need to understand what is and isn’t on-brand. Creating brand guidelines helps your team build their brand knowledge by defining and documenting your visual identity, values, voice, and tone, so they can create a consistent experience across different customer interactions.
For example, toy manufacturer Mattel “uses a playbook that covers things like brand purpose, design-led innovation and cultural relevance.” Its playbook helps its team present a stronger brand identity to the market and build an authentic connection with its customers.
Our State of Brand Ownership Report found that your “brand identity can quickly begin to diverge across channels and look unprofessional” if you deviate from your core brand style too much. So comprehensive guidelines give your team the confidence to create branded assets and messaging to use in their own roles without fear of compromising your brand identity. Your brand guidelines can actually help employees engage with your brand because they feel empowered to communicate your brand messaging and values to customers without needing to run everything past your marketing team.
When to Start Investing in Your Brand
The sooner you can start investing in your brand, the sooner you’ll experience the benefits that come from having a consistent, recognizable brand. Both customers and employees are increasingly looking for a shared purpose and values when choosing products to buy or a company to work for. So building your brand can help you attract top talent and engaged, loyal customers.
But brand building isn’t just for big companies with budgets to match. Investing in your brand can give small companies a head start against their competitors by increasing brand awareness in the market. According to Forbes, “Branding for early-stage startups matters a whole lot outside of the consumer vertical. A well-crafted brand helps its founder across three main categories: hiring a great team, raising money and building partnerships.”
Brand building can help smaller companies stand out and establish brand recognition before they have the budget to heavily invest in advertising and marketing campaigns like the bigger names in their space.
Build Your Brand One Step at a Time
When you first start investing in your brand, you may feel intimidated by the bigger, established companies in your space. But no one starts off with a fully established brand that’s a recognized household name.
By investing in your brand over time, you’ll increase your brand maturity bit by bit. At every stage, you’ll see increased levels of brand recognition as you improve brand consistency and internal alignment and start to establish brand equity. We’ve identified five levels of brand maturity:
- Discovery - This is the first level of brand maturity, where you’re just getting started building your brand. At this stage, your brand is implicit rather than defined or documented. Many companies still think of branding as a job for their marketing team because they don’t understand how other departments can help build their brand.
- Enabler - Next, you start to see the initial results from building your brand and how it can enable real business growth. At this level, you’ll do a lot of internal work defining, documenting, and formalizing your brand identity to help you maintain brand consistency as you grow.
- Co-creation - At this level, your priority is helping everyone in the business become co-creators of your brand. You need to educate employees on how their roles contribute to your brand and equip them with the guidelines and resources to create their own brand assets. It’s time to think about having a dedicated branding team, so you can scale up your brand-building activities.
- Brand-driven - Now your brand is driving real momentum for the business. You’ve achieved enough brand recognition in the market that customers are increasingly attracted by the company name alone. As customer acquisition costs drop, you’re starting to see how your brand can be a profit-driving tool for the future.
- Brand excellence - This is the final level of brand maturity. Your brand is well known and customers perceive your products as valuable and desirable. Internally, each team understands how their role helps maintain your brand and is committed to representing your authentic brand in everything they do.
Before you invest more time and resources into building your brand, it’s important to understand what your current level of brand maturity is, so you can work out where best to focus to reach the next stage.
Take our short brand maturity assessment to understand the current state of your brand and see what changes you can make that will help you manage your brand more efficiently.
Take the Next Steps for Building Your Brand
Now that you understand the current state of your brand maturity, you know where to focus to make the most impactful difference in how your brand is perceived – both inside and outside your company. But you can’t reach the later levels of brand maturity without buy-in and engagement from your team. We’ve put together a short guide to help you understand how each department contributes to building your brand and how to engage them in the brand-building journey.