Billionaire businessman Peter Thiel states branding as one of the 5 key characteristics needed to create a monopoly in business.
In his Stanford talk ‘Competition is for losers’ Peter didn’t get into branding – It’s not his thing.
Lucky for you, branding is my thing.
In this post, we’re going to cover 9 key branding fundamentals that you can apply to your business.
Let’s get started.
1. Pick one colour and own it
When you think of Coca-Cola you think of red. When you think of Apple you think of white. When you think of Uber you think of the black.
These brands intentionally picked that one colour and owned it.
Pick your one brand colour and use it relentlessly and consistently across all of your branding.
Customers will begin to recognise your brand’s colour and associate it with your brand distinguishing you from your competitors.
Like the colour blue, but lots of companies are blue. Fine, pick a specific tone of blue and use that.
2. Stick to one font
Apple famously uses one font across everything. True to form they are currently using just the single font across all of their communications and it works beautifully.
Pick one high-quality font and stick with it across all of your communications. Website, flyers, advertising, everything.
Make sure you pick a font that has multiple weights as there will be times when you need to empathize things.
Remember, good branding is about consistency. Using one font will allow you to have that powerful consistency.
3. Be jarringly simple
We’ve all heard the mantra. Less is more. Or the other one, keep it simple stupid.
People repeat it because it’s true.
There is only one way to stand out in a hyper cluttered world. Your branding must be bold and simple. Especially if you’re a new brand.
A great example of a brand living the dream is Huel.
Huel’s packaging is truly a thing of beauty. Look at it!
They have resisted every marketing manager’s urge to put starbursts and stripes and multicoloured crap and the result is a stunningly simple brand.
4. Nail your brand story
People love stories. Stories sell.
A guy once experimented by posting cheap, everyday items on eBay. Every item he posted for sale was accompanied by a fictional story written by a professional author. As a result, not only did he sell all of his items, he tripled his return.
Brand stories can be big or small. How many times have you seen brand stories attached to products?
Apple is great at telling stories about their iPhones every time they launch. Remember those super slick product videos that would be published every time a new iPhone launched. These are more great examples of brand stories.
Write your brand story. It doesn’t have to be about your product. It can be about you and your story. How you got started or how you thought of your idea for your business.
5. Use stunning imagery
Don’t cheap out on imagery for your brand. Whether you’re using illustrations or photography. Make sure you use good quality imagery.
We all know the story of how the AirBnB founders went out and took professional photos of all of the first listings that were featured on the site. This alone was responsible for a huge uptake in business on their site. Before they started doing all the photography for their hosts no one wanted to rent any of the rooms because they looked so bad.
You don’t have to spend thousands on a professional photoshoot or custom illustrations for your brand.
There are so many wonderful stock image libraries out there with amazing free photography and illustrations.
Spend some time putting together beautiful imagery for your brand. When people see the imagery they will know your product is quality and you will get more sales.
6. Own your tone of voice
Are you a serious brand? Are you a fun brand? Are you a smartass brand? Are you a premium brand?
Think about what your tone of voice is and use that to guide your brand.
A great example of a brand that knows it’s tone of voice is Brewdog beer. They have a fantastic ‘anti-establishment’ tone of voice that can be seen loud and clear in their advertising.
Another example of a brand that owns their tone of voice is Virgin. They have a friendly, cheeky brand that uses great copyrighting to connect with their customers and their level.
7. Craft your copywriting
Ogilvy once said your headline is where you should spend 90 cents of your marketing dollar.
Apple is a standout example of great copywriting. They always have snappy, short and well-written headlines as well as beautifully written paragraphs of copy.
Spend time crafting your copy. You don’t have to write loads of copy but the stuff you do write should be good.
Make sure your copy is simple and clear. Use words and language your customers will understand and relate to.
At the very least use, today’s modern tools like Grammarly to ensure your copy uses correct grammar and is free of spelling mistakes.
8. Stand for something
People love it when a brand stands for something. Patagonia is a great example of this. They practically wrote the book on sustainability. If you don’t know much about Patagonia, in short, they are all about long-lasting products. The complete opposite of today’s fast fashion. They want their products to last as long as humanly possible. In turn, it’s better for the environment and their business.
This is a tough one I know, especially if you’re just a new, small business. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Another great example is Okeano search engine. For every search you make with Okeano, they clean the world’s oceans. Fantastic.
Think about how you can make your brand different by championing a cause. The beauty of your brand standing for something is that it can be a talking point for customers and a real point of difference in a crowded marketplace.
9. Go all in on customer experience
People talk about their experience with a brand.
They either tell you how much it sucks. Or they beam with joy about how special your brand made them feel.
Think about buying a coffee at a petrol station versus buying a coffee at Starbucks.
At the petrol station you’ve got to make it yourself, it’s in a crappy cup, there’s a limited supply of extras and the whole experience usually results in a bad coffee.
Buying a coffee at Starbucks leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy. You pick your ingredients, there’s nice music playing in the store, they ask your name and write it on your fresh cup of coffee.
A great customer experience can be anything related to your business. It can be a well-written email. It can be silly sounds that play when a customer is using your app. It can be a no-nonsense refund and returns policy.
Think about all the touchpoints you have with your customer.
Start thinking about ways to add a little joy, fun or all-round fairer experience with your brand. Your customers will appreciate it and they will talk about it.
Right now if your business is in a crowded marketplace. All of you offering the same product. All offering the same price.
Maybe the only thing that can set you apart from your competition is branding.
Like all things, you can start small.
Pick just one thing you can improve.
Then move onto the next thing.
Soon all of those small things will add up and make a real difference to your businesses brand and your bottom line.
So go on, get to work on your branding and start creating that competition-crushing monopoly today.