When you are thinking about your brand foundation and its characteristics you need to ask yourself some tough questions. Do you think your brand has a strong brand foundation? Will your brand propel you into a highly demanded resource among your potential clientele? Does your brand stand for clearly defined values and will those values come through as promises to your clients? Does your brand struggle with awareness in the marketplace? You really need to grasp who you are as a brand to move forward and be successful.
That’s why I wrote this article today, and with it, I want to do two things. First, I want to show you what it takes to create a strong brand. Second, I want to also share with you companies who have built successful brands already to show you what’s possible. That can be your brand too!
1. Core values should shine through in every aspect of the brand.
Every company, every band has their core values and beliefs. Strong brands have admirable values such as honesty. But brands with strong brand foundation don’t hide their core values; they live by them. These brands are unashamed, untamed and outspoken about their beliefs because it makes them who they are! It brings them closer to their own tribe of people who also believe in the same values, such as animal-free tested cosmetics. Letting your core values shine connects your brand and company with paying customers and clients
Peanut is a mobile app that lets moms connect with other moms. A simple concept. Just by looking at their website and their social media it’s clear Peanut wants to help embrace women, especially moms. They allow women to be heard and find others like themselves. It sounds simple on paper but taken personally, the concept is hella powerful and can be life-changing.
And you can clearly see Peanut embrace their social media accounts as well. Specifically, their Pinterest is filled with useful boards and pins that further helps moms such as breastfeeding tips or even a sleeping guide for pregnant women.
Then we also have a brand like Magnolia Market run by Joana Gaines. The store provides elegant home decor (and now apparel too) to make your life more comfortable, homier and more enjoyable. It is clear that Magnolia Market believes in happy homes and happy families.
On their website, you can quickly notice these values through the products they sell and how they present them. The product photography is light and straightforward. The products are caique, elegant and crafty. There is a specific vibe and essence about Magnolia Market and if you don’t believe me just take a look at their website or Instagram. Magnolia Market has a strong brand foundation and it’s easily notable in all their efforts.
2. Don’t copy someone else. Be true to yourself.
I understand the appeal of wanting to copy what someone else is doing. To replicate their look and feel, the kind of posts they share on Twitter or Instagram or copy their landing page verbatim because it just sounds so good! I’ve been there too. I’m currently in love with Krystle Rowry brand, I think it’s spectacular, and I will admit I’m jealous of her look and feel and her tone and voice. But what she’s doing is unique to her and although I can, and maybe should be inspired, if I just copy her, I won’t be getting any benefits out of it. There will be a clear misalignment of values, voices and even proposed client outcomes.
The same is true for your business. Your branding, your message, your value propositions are unique to you. Embrace them and use them as your strength instead of hiding in someone’s shadows.
Kriss Did It
Let’s talk about Krystle and her web design brand, Kriss Did It. She’s incredibly confident in her skills, her offerings, and her own values. Her confidence oozes out. She knows how to make the best websites and the best brands. She didn’t get this brand by copying another designer, she got here because she has a strong brand foundation. And it’s paying off for her too! She’s worked with some fantastic clients such as MarieForleo, Robin These and Travel Noire! You go, girl! You do you!
3. Market to your audience based on where they hang out (not what the current trend is or what traditionally works best for everyone).
A critical aspect of having a stable and strong brand foundation is understanding your audience. This includes knowing where they hang out and what kind of content they prefer to consume and engage with. If your audience doesn’t watch the Super Bowl, there ain’t no point in advertising there. Additionally, traditional avenues such as radio, TV or magazine advertising may not always work so well. It actually would be a waste of money as these advertisements are very costly yet ineffective for many. Know your audience and you will know where to find them and how to reach them best. And, for your own piece of mind, never blindly follow the current trends.
Although they still do TV ads, they have also become a little bit notorious on both Twitter and Tumblr. They are really going after the millennial and gen z markets hard on social media. And it looks like they are paying off. Often times Taco Bell’s tweets are at the center of trending memes. This is smart because they are not actively paying for ads through Twitter. Instead, they are using the platform, just like anyone else and instead of pointless company updates, they tweet things that get the millennial and gen z kids to engage. That’s how they insert themselves into their lives – by being relevant where their audience hangs out.
The company is on a mission to make pizza orders as easy and as seamless as possible. Dominos did something brilliant, they launched Dominos Anyware, which allows people to conveniently order a pizza on their own terms. You can order a Dominos from your smartwatch, Alexa or Google Home, through Slack or Facebook Messenger. That’s brilliant! They literally decided to go where their customers hang out and made it their mission to make Dominos pizza ordering so smooth! I don’t see your local pizza joint or even Pizza Hut doing this. Do you?
4. Find your tribe, nurture it, grow it.
If you’re having trouble figuring out who your exact target audience is and what your branding foundation is, may I suggest my branding workbook? It asks you detailed questions that help you get a clear idea of who you are and what you stand for as a company. It’s a stepping stone in defining your solid and strong brand foundation.
The reason I’m offering the workbook is that sometimes it can be hard to know who your exact target audience is. And you must have that defined. It’s okay if your company is catering to a more general group. I focus on female entrepreneurs and small business owners, which is pretty general to be honest. However, it’s also okay if you are catering to a more niche group as well. Whatever it is, the point is you must go and find your people. Find your tribe of like-minded individuals that would share your core beliefs and would support your efforts. Once you start gaining more and more following, whether it’s in your Facebook group, your Instagram account, or through your weekly newsletter, you must nurture them.
Once you’re developing that relationship with them, you will be gaining more loyal brand followers and more loyal customers or clients who will happily keep spreading the word about you.
5. Consistency is key!
Once you’re starting to grow and nurture your tribe, consistency will help with that growth. Consistency means many things for brands. It means using the same colors and logo and well as having the same tone, voice, and message across all channels. It could also refer to consistency in quality or frequency of posting on social media or on your blog. Consistency is great because it sets expectations for your audience. It would be ideal if you figure out what capacity your brand can output content of the same (high) quality and social posts and stick to it. Don’t overwork yourself if you’re a one-woman show like me. If you’re a larger team, don’t trade quantity for quality either.
Career Contessa’s brand revolved around having an upbeat, powerful vibe while they aim to help women cultivate successful careers. Their helpful and enthusiastic tone is consistent throughout their blog, their Facebook and Instagram posts, their webinars and even downloadable resources.
Light Purpose Living
Amanda Davies is a fantastic business coach who runs Light Purpose Living. She genuinely wants to help women get over the threshold of starting a business and getting into the flow of booking your first clients. She’s very optimistic, cheerful and, most importantly, helpful. She speaks to you with sympathy and encouragement. On her website, in her Facebook group and in her actual business coaching sessions she is the same cheerful and helpful woman. She’s consistent in her branding because she knows what her own company stands for, who she can help the best, and then goes out and does it. And the thing is, she has the longest and most detailed testimonial page I’ve seen in a long time.
6. Work and partner only with brands that fall in line with your own values.
I think the headline for this strong brand foundation characteristic is pretty self-explanatory. If you have stable core values, don’t bend them. Don’t accept clients who don’t fit them. Additionally, don’t partner with other brands that don’t align with your goals. You cannot possibly keep a business relationship quiet; they are often made especially for promotional purposes anyways.
Another fantastic example of a company with a strong brand foundation is Tech Ladies. It’s an organization that helps connect women with the best tech jobs. They have a whole community too and provide many great resources such as webinar and meets ups. So if Tech Ladies posted a job from another company that’s known for its unethical behavior or harassment scandals. Although a single instance wouldn’t ruin them, doing so over and over again would eventually discredit them.
Instead, Tech Ladies does practice what they preach. They work tirelessly with companies that want to work on diversity and gender equality in the workforce. In their emails, they even categories job posting with labels that are truly important to working women such as “Work with Fellow Tech Ladies,” “Diversity and Inclusion Warriors Work Here,” “Family Friendly” or “WFH-Friendly.”
7. Connect emotionally with your audience to draw them in.
One common theme among all previous six characteristics is that no matter what these brands are, they are connecting with their audience on an emotional level. You can’t be fake and use someone else’s strategy and expect to have a real, emotional connection with your audience. Taco Bell’s social media success is due to an emotional connection too. Same with Peanut or Magnolia Market.
And the same thing can be true for your brand. (And, it should be.)
Ellvest is on a mission to close the gender money gaps. And they hit you hard with the truth that women are a financial disadvantage. Now, they are not all gloomy. Ellevest also provides many great resources for women to educate themselves on better money management such as savings or investing. However, they also do provide a solution that’s custom made for women wanting to invest.
Personally, I think they are a fantastic company, and they are making big waves. Ellevest is adamant about talking money and breaking women out of this harmful taboo that harms women financially. They wouldn’t be able to do this if they weren’t frank and honest. They attack the issue head-on and speak about it openly. Again, they are also very informative and resourceful. And it works! Women are loving the company; they have found a significant following on both social media and in product signups. If they didn’t create an emotional connection by being blunt and honest, no one would pay attention to Ellevest.
Marie Forleo has grown a tremendous following over the last decade and then some. She’s an inspiration to many. But she didn’t get there by luck. Instead, Marie focused on providing useful and valuable information that her target audience needed. She wouldn’t have been noticed by anyone in the first place if she didn’t make a connection with the people she was speaking to. She made that emotional connection by addressing the problems fellow entrepreneurs had, she listened to them and they felt heard. And so, an emotional connection was made. And today, Marie provides informative videos, podcasts, articles and other free and paid resources. People love her, they admire her and look up to her. Even Oprah Winfrey admires her!
I mean, honestly, just look at the hero section of her home page. It’s a highly intriguing message. But because there is literally nothing else there, you pay attention to it. Then you read it and the meaning, the emotion hits you. Very well done!
In today’s article, I wanted to provide you with insight into what it takes to create a strong brand and many examples of such. A strong brand foundation is one reason many of these companies have succeeded (of course there are many other factors to consider as well). I also wanted to share with you what is possible! That if you give it enough effort, your company can turn into one of these in-demand brands.
If you’re considering a rebranding to strengthen further and solidify your brand and foundation, or if you’re just starting out, I highly recommend downloading free printable branding workbook! It goes over fundamental branding questions that will help you with building your brand foundation!