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Brand Over Business: The Best Investment You Will Make In 2024

It takes just 7 seconds to create a first impression. Now, consider the vast array of brands your ideal customer encounters daily – from scrolling through social media feeds to strolling down the street, or exploring online platforms.The competition for attention is fierce.

Brand marketing often takes a back seat in the early stages of business growth, with many choosing to focus on more easily trackable metrics of performance marketing for immediate return on investment. However, the significance of brand marketing should not be overlooked. Brand marketing is a long-term strategy that enhances a brand’s overall image, perception, and recognition by establishing a strong brand identity. 

Performance marketing focuses on driving measurable actions, such as clicks, conversions, or sales and aims to directly track and optimise campaigns based on tangible results. Both strategies bring unique value to a business, but it’s essential to recognise that without a strong brand foundation, the potential for overall business success remains limited.

At Open Velocity, clients often share perspectives such as, “I can’t see the return on brand marketing, so how do I know it’s working?” or “Brand marketing is for much larger businesses; we can’t afford it.” Our response always circles back to a simple truth: all roads lead to brand. If you’re aiming for sustained business growth and longevity, investing in your brand is the strategic play for the end game—it’s not about quick wins but enduring success.

That’s why in 2024, investing in your brand isn’t a choice – it’s a necessity. 

Building a brand alongside your business ensures the longer-term success. The brands we personally love and buy are brands – we don’t think of them as products or businesses, they stand for something in our minds and are memorable to us

To make a lasting impact, your business needs to extend beyond the products and services you offer. Building a brand recognises the importance of customer perception, loyalty, and the overall experience associated with your business.

Investing in brand – why bother? 

Build recognition & Trust: A recognisable brand is essential for building trust and loyalty among your customers. Studies indicate that 59% of shoppers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them. This highlights the significant impact a recognisable brand can have on purchasing decisions.

Create a competitive advantage: In a competitive market flooded with similar products that mirror yours,  your brand can  set you apart and makes you memorable. Going back to the first seven seconds when your brand is seen, it’s crucial that you make the right impression from the start.

Impact purchasing decisions:  Investing in your brand will have a lasting impact on influencing customer purchasing behaviour and driving growth. Take Dr. Martens as an example. Despite implementing price increases, the brand has experienced sales improvements (11% increase in direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales globally), which they attribute to their brand strength and commitment to prioritising ‘brand-centric’ decisions. They’ve also hired their first global chief brand officer, demonstrating their dedication to continued investment in the brand. Having a strong brand can short-cut customer purchasing decisions and helps cuts out competition.

Increase your brand value: Your brand’s value is determined by the amount of money someone is willing to pay for it. The greater your investment in your brand identity, the higher its future value. Consider one of the most profitable brands globally, Apple. The brand and logo alone are valued at nearly $119 billion (£80 billion). While we’re not suggesting that investing in your brand will turn you into the next Apple, it certainly will enhance the value of your brand over time. 

One area often overlooked in the early days of growing a business is the importance of building a strong and memorable brand identity. It’s just one element of building a lasting brand presence, but in this blog we’re exploring it in more detail as a key building block of establishing your market presence and gaining lasting impact. 

“Brand” Vs “Brand Identity” – What  is the difference?

These terms are frequently used in discussions about brand marketing, and though they may sound similar, there are crucial distinctions. 

Brand: The concept of a brand revolves around how a company is perceived and the emotions it evokes in its audience. It delves into the emotional connection and experience that the audience has with the company, extending beyond the visual elements of the brand.

Brand Identity: Brand identity encompasses the specific elements that make up a brand, such as the logo, typography, tone of voice, colour palette, and visual imagery. 

For example Nike’s brand is all about feeling empowered, achieving goals, and aiming for greatness. It’s not just about their products; it’s a lifestyle and mindset that the brand embodies. The brand identity is how they showcase this to their customers. For instance, the iconic tick logo and the tagline ‘Just Do It’ are examples of how they make their brand stand out and be easily recognised.

What makes a strong brand identity?

Beyond your logo there are a number of elements that contribute to strong brand identity, all of which have equal importance when capturing your customer’s attention and work together to create that lasting first impression (or not!).

Logo: Your logo is a unique and recognisable symbol that represents the brand. It’s one of the first visual elements your customer will see, spend the time on making it right. Research shows that 90% of people are more likely to remember information when presented with a visual aid, making logos crucial for brand identity.

Typography: Typography is how you present your brand through text, involving font type, spacing, and alignment—a means of expressing your brand’s personality. With over 200,000 fonts to choose from, each carrying unique emotions, it may seem like a quick decision. However, it plays a crucial part in unlocking audience engagement. Recent research by Monotype highlights that even factors such as our geographical location can influence emotional responses to fonts.

Colour palette: Did you know that using a signature colour can increase brand recognition by 80 percent? Choosing between Pantone 108 and 109 may not seem like a big deal for your colour palette at the time, but the impact can be surprising. Colours trigger a blend of emotions in brand identity, and the ones you choose can be a deciding factor between your brand and a competitor. It’s essential to grasp the psychology behind colours before making your selection.

Visual Imagery:  Brand imagery refers to visual elements, such as photography and illustrations, that you use to represent your brand. Defaulting to generic stock images on digital platforms is easy. However in those crucial first seven seconds that shape an impression, ask yourself: Will this make my brand stand out? Spending time creating unique and personalised images that align with your brand will provide the standout factor against your competitors.

Tone of Voice: Have you ever misunderstood a message because of the choice of words used? This happens many times, often due to the words reflecting a tone of voice you don’t warm to or find confusing. The same applies for your brand. If you’re not communicating with your audience in the right way, they could quite easily switch off and disengage. Many brands have nailed their tone of voice. From being motivational and aspirational like Nike or fun and lighthearted like Duolingo, one thing that shines through is consistency in engaging their target audience.

A great test on whether your brand identity is distinct and has stand-out is pinning up images of your website or advertising alongside your competitors on a wall and seeing if it’s a sea of sameness – it very often is! You want to stand-out.

Strong brand identity examples to inspire you…

Oatly: Oatly, a Swedish milk company with two decades of history, has emerged as a prominent player in the realm of plant-based milks in recent years. Much of its popularity can be attributed to the brand’s unique identity. Oatly embraces a playful approach to its brand identity, evident in everything from milk cartons to billboards and social media content. The consistent use of a lighthearted and witty tone of voice defines the brand’s communication style.

What can we learn from Oatly? Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries with your tone of voice. If your audience responds well to a particular tone, ensure consistency across all your communication channels.

Spotify: Beyond their standout logo, Spotify is a great example of how to use brand identity to captivate a global audience. Their popular end-of-year ‘Wrapped’ campaign illustrates this effectively, with colourful and bold visuals shared across various social media channels. In a recent article, Rasmus Wängelin, the global head of brand design at Spotify, describes the thought process behind the visual identity of the campaign: ‘We have to prove to ourselves that it actually works in different scenarios—small, big, wide, narrow; in various languages; with different types of creative, whether that’s a playlist cover, an artist image, or just text-based creative; across digital, physical, and everything in between.’

What can we learn from Spotify? Creating a successful global brand identity means understanding different cultures, languages, visuals, and technology. By paying attention to these things, your brand can become strong, consistent, and appealing across the world, connecting with diverse audiences everywhere.

McDonald’s: McDonald’s is a globally recognised brand, and its iconic golden arches play a crucial role in the brand’s logo. The distinctive yellow and red colours of the logo are so recognisable that past campaigns have effectively used snippets of it, making instant recognition possible. In 2018, design agency Cossette devised the ‘Follow the Arches’ campaign utilising billboard designs of the curves from the “M” in the arches to guide people to their nearest McDonald’s restaurant.

What can we learn from McDonald’s? Don’t underestimate the influence of a brand’s colours, especially when incorporated into your logo. A distinctive colour palette can enhance recognition and set your logo apart from competitors.

3 ways to execute your brand identity in the digital landscape 

It’s one thing to have a strong brand identity, but the way you execute it is where the real magic happens. It’s important to have the building blocks in place when you’re ready to execute in your brand identity. 

Create brand guidelines: Brand guidelines serve as your brand’s rulebook. They help you keep a consistent brand identity across all the places your customers interact with you. Essentially, everything we’ve discussed about your brand identity should be detailed within these guidelines. From your brand colours and typography to tone of voice and brand images. 

Invest in your brand assets: While the initial investment in creating brand assets may seem like an expense, it proves to be cost-effective in the long run. Well designed assets reduce the need for constant revisions and redesigns, saving both time and resources.

Be consistent: The importance of consistency in brand identity cannot be overlooked. Imagine coming across an advertisement that caught your interest, prompting you to visit the company’s website, only to find yourself wondering if you’re still interacting with the same brand. Don’t underestimate the significance of maintaining a cohesive and uniform brand identity across all touchpoints.

Growth is tough and 2024 isn’t promising to be any easier – with lingering uncertainty in our economy and an ever increasing competitive landscape, there can only be winners or losers. The fight is on to stand-out for all of the right reasons and investing in your brand could give you that competitive advantage you need.

This article has provided key insights into what makes a strong brand identity and why making this initial investment is crucial. However, the journey doesn’t simply begin and end there. Implementing your brand identity effectively in the marketplace is a vital aspect of your growth trajectory, and recognising its impact at each stage of your customer’s buying journey is vital. Stay tuned for more insights in our upcoming blogs. Sign up for our email list to receive them directly to your inbox.

Getting the building blocks to grow your business in place is crucial. Our team of  partners have the skills and experience to help you shape up your business for 2024, so if you’d like to talk to us about how to grow your brand, we would love to chat and give you our perspective.

 

 

Author
Photo of Lisa Wood

Lisa Wood, Senior Partner

30 years of marketing experience, 10 years at CMO/Director level, building brands, growing businesses and optimising marketing performance. Working in Private Equity, start-up and corporate businesses, with sector experience in Banking, Fintech, Travel and Legal Services. A strategic and customer-led leader with roles spanning customer insight, proposition development, product management, customer and digital experience design, brand management, creative development and customer acquisition.

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Business Challenges
Marketing Growth Plans
marketing strategy
Positioning & Differentiation

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