Branding 101: A Guide To Marketing Your Organizational Brand

Amtrak conductor in uniform interacting with passenger on train

Branding. That word gets tossed around a lot these days and it’s an important part of marketing your business. By creating a human-like persona with qualities and traits that appeal to your target audience, branding is essential to gaining loyal support for your organization.

In this article, I’ll provide a comprehensive overview of branding as it relates to marketing your business. Continue reading to learn what branding is, the elements of a brand strategy, why it’s important, and tips for branding your business.

What Is Branding?

Branding is the process of researching, creating, and implementing specific qualities and traits that set your organization apart from the market. Through branding, your organization transforms from a business that sells products to a brand that consumers identify with and connect to.

The American Marketing Association defines a brand as “a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” While this is true, a strong brand intertwines a specific tone consistently through all of those components. Successful branding efforts cohesively craft the following features: 

  • Name 
  • Slogan 
  • Logo 
  • Design
  • Voice 
  • Values

What Are The Elements Of A Brand Strategy?

Branding is an essential component of promoting and advertising your business, but you can’t just throw ideas at a wall and expect one to stick. In order to capture the attention and support of your target audience you need to approach branding strategically.

Fortunately, there’s a general framework that you can follow in order to devise your brand’s strategy. Several elements go into establishing a branding strategy, including: 

  • Brand purpose 
  • Brand vision 
  • Brand values 
  • Target audience 
  • Market analysis 
  • Awareness goals
  • Brand identity 
  • Brand voice 
  • Brand tagline

In the sections below, I’ll break down each element of brand strategy in greater detail. Continue reading to learn how these elements work together to establish your corporate brand.

Corporate employee wearing plaid suit jacket and glasses smiling

Brand Purpose

To set a foundation for branding, you need to come up with your organization’s purpose. The reason that you went into business in the first place and why you exist today – outside of making money. Every other component of your brand is built around its purpose.

The brand purpose of a patent attorney who helps entrepreneurs get off the ground might be to empower anyone to start their own business or design a new product. A luxury automotive brand, on the other hand, might strive to provide a lavish and exclusive lifestyle to an elite segment of the market.

If you have trouble getting started, take at your company’s mission statement. In defining your purpose, you’re already narrowing down your target audience to consumers who align with your mission.

Brand Vision

Your purpose is the reason your brand exists. Your vision is where you want it to go. Brand vision is the long-term trajectory of your organization and where you want to position yourself in the market.

It’s centered around what problems you want to solve, the goals you want to achieve, and how you plan to get there. A pharmaceutical company like GoodRx might have a brand vision of breaking the barrier to affordable prescriptions. To get there, GoodRx leverages technology and relationships to provide consumers with discounts on their medications.

Your brand’s vision may change over time, but it informs all of your decisions moving forward and can help you stay on track as you progress.

Brand Values

Your brand values are the core beliefs and ideals that drive your brand and what it stands for. Values, purpose, and vision are all closely related, working together to shape the infrastructure of your brand.

Lego has a unique set of brand values – fun, creativity, imagination, and learning – that extends far beyond the products. They incorporate a light-hearted, people-first mentality into their company culture. In turn, they churn out fun and creative products for kids to learn with.

Your brand’s values are key to connecting with your audience and establishing a company internally.

Target Audience

The core of your brand – your purpose, vision, and values – helps to establish a persona of your ideal customer upon which your target audience is based. Your target audience is the segment or segments of the market that you want to advertise and market your brand toward.

Sound knowledge of your target audience involves understanding their problems and needs, and creating a solution for them through your product or service. Some components of a target audience include: 

  • Demographics 
  • Problems they have 
  • Emotional tendencies 
  • Behavioral patterns

Your target audience isn’t always who you’d expect. If you’re in charge of branding for a senior living facility, you’ll find that your primary audience is the legal guardians helping potential residents in their transition.

While your target audience is based on your brand’s core, it informs all of your creative decisions in the branding process. 

Market Analysis

A good portion of establishing a brand is introspective. Market analysis is an element of organizational branding that turns the magnifying glass toward other companies.

A market analysis is a process of identifying gaps in the market that differentiate you from the competition. This process involves analyzing all the competitors within your market and gathering an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

In the auto industry, you’d find that manufacturers like Mercedes Benz and Audi are strong at promoting luxurious features while a brand like Toyota is more geared towards providing value to the average consumer. If you were trying to establish a new car brand, you could use that information to position yourself as a brand that provides: 

  • Luxury but at a cost that the average consumer can afford
  • Exclusive features that even high-end manufacturers don’t offer 
  • Quality vehicles at a lower price point than other consumer-friendly brands

Brand Identity

We’ve conquered the foundational elements of a brand. Now it’s time to dive into the creative components of branding. Your brand identity is your effort to shape consumers’ perceptions of your organization.

Brand identity is primarily visual, though it works together with your personality and voice in an effort to establish a positive brand image. Your brand identity is comprised of the following components: 

  • Logo: The graphic symbol or mark that identifies a business. 
  • Colors/Shapes: The various colors and shapes that a brand uses in every aspect of marketing, promotion and advertising. 
  • Typography: The way a brand arranges text to most appropriately represent its purpose and values.
  • Visuals: Videos, images and other graphic elements that a brand uses to market to consumers.

Brand Personality

Where identity is primarily visual, your personality is the characteristics that personify your brand. It’s a set of human characteristics that resonate with consumers who have similar personalities.

As I mentioned before identity, voice and personality all work together to communicate your message to consumers. Think of brand personality as the traits that make a brand feel relatable.

Dove established a brand personality centered around relatability and acceptance. They promote body positivity and use models that look like real people in an industry that often glamorizes often unrealistic beauty standards.

Brand Voice

Brand voice is how your organization communicates with consumers – the words and language that you use in written copy, commercials, social media posts and more. It can be confused with brand tone, which is the attitude with which you speak. However, voice is the actual words and language that you use to communicate.

Companies like Taco Bell and Wendy’s leverage a modern, casual voice – especially on their social media accounts – to connect with a younger audience that’s in with the times. On the other hand, commercial healthcare companies often use a more formal voice because they operate in a more serious industry.

Brand Tagline

A brand’s tagline, or slogan, is a brief and concise representation of your brand story. It typically consists of one-to-two sentences and is comparable to an elevator pitch for your brand.

McDonald’s is the household name when it comes to fast food. They invented the industry and have served billions of hamburgers and other types of food to happy customers. They sum up their business in three words – I’m lovin’ it.

Is Brand Image Part of Branding?

Brand image is part of branding in a sense, though it’s out of your control as a business owner. All of your branding efforts work to shape the market’s perception in a way that aligns with your purpose and values.

At the end of the day, the consumer defines their perception of your company as they see it.

Female and male adult talking on Amtrak train with male child sitting in front of them

What Is The Importance Of Branding?

Branding is imperative for a business owner or marketing professional. It establishes your company’s position in the market and impacts your organization in many ways.

In the section below, I’ll expand upon a few key reasons why you need to establish a brand for your business.

Separate Yourself From Competitors In The Market

No matter how groundbreaking you think your product or service is, there’s likely a handful of companies that offer something similar. Branding helps you differentiate yourself from competitors in the market.

By highlighting what makes your company unique, known as a unique value proposition (UVP), you’re able to position yourself as one-of-a-kind.

Tell Your Story

Not only is branding a way to captivate audiences, but it’s also a chance for you to tell your organization’s story. It allows you to share where you came from, why you do what you do, what you value, and how you work to achieve your goals.

Make An Emotional Connection

By highlighting what makes your brand unique and sharing your story, you’re able to make an emotional connection with consumers. Your personality, voice and identity make your brand relatable to individuals who share similar beliefs, values, personality traits and characteristics – your target audience.

Tapping into emotions is a way to create brand loyalty outside of whether or not your product or service is essential to the consumers’ lives. If someone is a loyal supporter, they’re also likely to refer their friends and family as well.

Foster Positive Employee Morale

Branding isn’t only important to consumers. It can improve your workplace and company culture, creating positive employee morale. It also creates a positive employer brand which makes your company more appealing for new employees looking for a place to establish and grow their careers.

Boosting employee morale in turn increases productivity in your workplace which results in higher-quality work.

Increase The Value Of Your Business

Branding is an early step in forming a reputation for your business. Strategic branding can create a stronger reputation and place your company at the top of the market as an authoritative brand in the industry.

An authoritative brand carries more value – consumers trust you more and are more likely to support you over the competition.

Amtrak employee in uniform waves at two trains

Branding Tips For Your Business

Now that you understand the elements of branding and why it’s important, I’m sure you’re ready to establish or rejuvenate your organizational brand. In the sections below, I’ll share a couple of tips that can help increase your chances of finding success in your branding efforts.

Understand Why You Do What You Do

This should go without saying but in order to connect with consumers, you need to understand why the business exists. Otherwise, you may share mixed signals or, even worse, market your brand to irrelevant segments of the market.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, ask yourself why you started your business in the first place and why you continue to open for business every day.

Clearly Define What You Do And What You Stand For

You can have a clear understanding of what you do, but you need to be able to express the purpose, values, and vision of your organization through marketing and advertising. Your values and what you stand for will ultimately shape your brand identity.

Know Your Audience

As I said before, there’s no point in blindly marketing yourself to the world in hopes that the right people find you. Knowing your target audience helps you better establish a relatable personality and a voice that aligns with their characteristics.

Knowing your audience is more than just a checklist of their age bracket, profession, and location. It’s understanding their problems, emotional tendencies and behaviors, and shaping your brand to make their life easier.

Highlight What Makes You Different

If you’re different, you’ll stand out. Your branding should explicitly highlight your UVP and the qualities of your business that separate you from competitors. If you’re a clothing brand that prides itself on alternative trends, you have to highlight that consumers can’t find the same designs anywhere else.

Create An Emotional Narrative

As I mentioned before, emotional connection is key to capturing consumers’ hearts and loyal support. Every component of your brand should tell a story that your target audience can resonate with and relate to.

It’s more than generating leads for your business. It’s fostering a community of like-minded individuals who share the same beliefs, values, traits, characteristics and lifestyle.

Be Creative

Bland doesn’t capture attention. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you need to be creative in your branding efforts and think outside the box in order to set yourself apart from other companies.

For example, if you’re a travel company you could strive to create a brand centered around unity – highlighting different cultures and emphasizing how they come together to make one unified world.

Stay Consistent Across All Mediums

The key to success is consistency. You don’t want to confuse people by communicating your brand inconsistently. Make sure that all marketing platforms are aligned and on-brand. Your voice, personality and identity should be present and identical across all promotional efforts.

Whether it’s a commercial video production, blog post, email newsletter, or social media post, consumers should know that it’s your brand as soon as they see it.

Improve Your Branding With Professional Photography From Casey Templeton

That was a lot of information to take in, but I hope you understand just how important branding is to your overall marketing strategy. One key component of branding is visual marketing and a professional photography session can equip you with a diverse library of high-quality, on-brand images to use across all of your channels.

Casey Templeton is a professional commercial photographer with extensive experience in business branding across various industries and businesses of all sizes. To learn more about Casey Templeton Photography or to get the ball rolling on a project, fill out our contact form. 

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