THIS IS digit-ALL's SECOND ARTICLE IN A FIVE-PART SERIES ABOUT COMPANY BRANDING AND BRAND CONSISTENCY.
Branding is a catch-all term that encompasses two major ideas behind company branding as a whole: brand identity and brand personality.
In other words, company branding is so, so, so much more than colors and fonts! (They play a role, but not until much, much later.) This is because you need to first know the what’s, who’s, why’s, and how’s of your company plan.
Before you start your company branding, you first need to come up with your:
Let’s get started!
NOTE: All four of these pre-branding steps should be done in a way that they relate to each other. For instance, as you work on Vision, it will feed into Purpose and Mission and vice versa.
A vision statement is your vision for the company and company brand. This is looking down the road at what you want to become as a company, and why customers should want to take the ride with you. This is written in the future tense, and it answers “What do we hope to achieve as a company?”
To clarify, a vision statement for a company as a whole might be: To be a conscientious provider of compostable tennis shoes that make employees proud to work here. A vision statement for a company brand might be: To publicly be a leader in compostable foot fashion, providing education and actions that put composting first.
This is similar to a vision statement, and it states why your company exists and what it currently does (not what it aspires to do, like the vision statement). As you write a mission statement, think of:
1) what does your product and service provide,
2) who do you provide it to, and
3) what makes you stand apart from other companies.
This is written in the present tense, and it answers, “Who are we to you and why should you care?”
Core and Aspirational Values
In this period of human history, company values have never mattered more. You should be thinking about the core values you currently have and the aspirational values you plan to work toward. Core values find their way into the mission statement and aspirational values into the vision statement. For instance, the USPS has a multi-paragraph mission statement, and the core values found there include trusted, safe, secure, and reliable.
Having a purpose statement sets expectations both internally and externally, from employees to customers. It is a map as your company moves forward, and should be the GPS for decisions you make, from manufacturing to marketing. This is written in present tense, and it answers “How do we stay consistent with the way we want to exist as a company?”
Now Company Branding!
With these four business components out of the way, now it’s time to discuss how they inform your company branding.
Branding gives your business an identity so that both companies and customers can quickly recognize the brand. It helps a company stand out next to the competition with weaker branding but similar products and services.
- Your vision statement helps you not be too stuck in the present with your brand. A small operation has the ability to become larger. A Fiverr logo and your favorite personal colors do not befit a company with a vision for itself.
- Your mission statement helps you hone your brand now. A company that provides tools to truckers should not have hot pink and leopard just because you have a twenty-year plan to sell tools to women. You need your brand to live in the present as well as the future.
- Your values will help you stay on track with your messaging. If you have the value of “trustworthy,” you may use a rectangle/square as part of your messaging.
- Your purpose statement is the glue to keep your company consistent with its vision, mission, and values. So make sure to have created a purpose statement to help your brand also be, look, and feel consistent.
Branding identity and branding personality are the two ways to best think of branding as a whole. Your company’s brand identity is where you look at colors and fonts (finally!) as well as names, tone of voice, and logos.
Each of these factors must be informed by vision, mission, values, and purpose. For instance, if the vision for your sports car company is to go electric in 20 years, it doesn’t make sense to have a car with exhaust blowing out from behind as your logo.
Just as with values, look up the emotional and historical impact of every color, font, name, and logo you feel like using. The meaning behind each of these will influence your identity–positively or negatively.
The last thing to think about as you put all of these ideas together is brand personality. This is when you give human characteristics to your brand. Like brand identity, this is how your brand stands out. Choose your brand personality with care–a conscientious bookstore produces a very different service in the mind’s eye of the customer compared to a competitive chain bookstore.
And don’t forget–what you choose will reflect your tone, and vice versa! For instance:
- If your company brand is conscientious, your company tone may be thoughtful
- If your company brand is light, your company tone may be humorous
- If your company brand is educational, your company tone may be informational
As you figure out your own brand personality–as it relates to brand identity, mission, vision, values, and purpose–remember that the whole reason any of this matters is that you want to build an emotional and memorable connection to life-long customers.
NEXT UP IN OUR COMPANY BRANDING SERIES: The Problem with Inconsistent Branding
(This will include why your website, your social media, and all physical marketing materials need to match in message, tone, colors, and iconography.)
OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES:
- What Is Branding, and Why Does It Matter?
- How to Develop Brand Guidelines
digit-ALL is a full-service marketing company that focuses on the people side of marketing. We focus on company branding, websites, social media, blogs, newsletters, and even corporate event planning. We’re here to help when you’re ready for it.
“27 Mission and Vision Statement Examples That Will Inspire Your Buyers,” Lindsay Kolowich Cox, Hubspot.com.
“About the United States Postal Service,” USPS.gov.
“How to Develop Your Company’s Purpose Statement,” Wgu.edu.
“Make Your Values Mean Something,” Patrick M. Lencioni, HBR.org.
“What is a Brand Personality, According to Marketers Who’ve Developed Them,” Caroline Forsey, Hubspot.com.
“What is Branding?,” TheBrandingJournal.com.
“What Is a Company Mission Statement?,” Ross Mudrick, BusinessNewsDaily.com.