What people think when they hear your company or product name is ultimately defined by your brand. A brand is different from a brand name, and encompasses all the different emotions people associate with your company. A brand is created by your clients’ experiences and perceptions of your product or service. Your brand cannot be physically seen, but lives in your clients’ hearts and minds – it also is something that you cannot always control.

The Making of a Brand

To be effective and remain relevant in an ever-changing world brands needs to evolve over time, adjusting to customer needs and desires. For this to work, communication with your core audiences is key.

Brands are usually built on language. Connect with your audience by creating a verbal identity that makes your brand stand out from those of your competitors. Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to define your brand through language. Purpose driven stories link your company with customers on a human and personal level through client narratives and other content where customers can easily replace the main character of the story with themselves.

Your brand should still be recognizable even without any visuals such as ads or symbols. It will organically appear when people talk about the company with their friends and family, passing on the stories that they’ve heard, read, or seen, and now associate with your company.

Branding boosts your reputation. A great brand story, however, will not only make your business credible and legitimate, but also connect emotionally with your target audience. In so doing, it motivates potential buyers and creates customer loyalty. But branding is simply one strategy that needs to be used with other forms of marketing.

Show don’t tell

Branding is strategic. While most components of a marketing plan inform, your brand defines who you are as a company. Branding shows how valuable your product is, or could be, to the lives of prospects and current customers. You can easily enhance your marketing with advertising, automation, and processes. Branding, which is centrally tied to external perceptions, requires a much more customer centric approach. To develop a great brand your business must go straight to the source, using market audience research and customer surveying to discover what challenges, concerns, frustrations and needs your target customers face. From these learnings your brand will arise as the vehicle for transformation that enables your customers to overcome their relevant shortcomings.

The credibility of your brand will largely depend on the lived experiences – does your product or service live up to the promises of your branding?

Playing for the long game

Brand definition must consistently be iterated just as your product and service offering evolves to better serve customers. Branding, like product development and business innovation, is a long-term investment that largely drives results (as measured by purchasing) in the medium and long term. It may not push people to purchase your product immediately, but a strong brand will inspire emotions within your customers and prospects that resonate with them long after they’ve first heard about your product, visited your website or read your social media content.

If they connect with the brand, they will be back and, better yet, if you’ve engineered a content marketing ecosystem, they’ll bring more people with them.