When you want to capture market share and repeat customers on a tight budget it’s tempting to overlook branding as an expensive, non-essential marketing tool. But strong branding is at the core of some of the world’s most valuable companies — and successful startups.
For example, let’s take a quick look at two UK-based startups that are building ambitious brands.
Levi Roots, a British-Jamaican reggae musician, TV personality, and celebrity chef, took his Reggae Reggae Sauce from the kitchen table to supermarket shelves in a year. He has arguably built one of the UK’s most well-recognized food brands. His bold and colorful brand is no longer limited to condiments – in 2011 a range of Caribbean drinks made £2.5 million ($3.9M) for the company.
Liam Green was only 17-years-old when HYPE was born. Hype is another attention-grabbing brand that achieved exceptional growth since its inception. The clothing designer, who designs bold, patterned tees and sweats, took his part-time project (started in 2011) to a multinational business. “In just under two years HYPE, now controlled by Liam after Aidy took a backseat in the business, has gone from selling t-shirts in a bedroom to processing 350 orders a day online. Sales in 2012 totaled an impressive £1m but for 2013, projections are that the brand will generate a mind-blowing £8m [$12.5M].”
What is the common thread that connects these two uniquely different companies? Branding.
Essentials of Branding
Branding is often perceived as an empty shell, devoid of tangible process. But when practiced effectively the reality is very different. A strong brand drives and influences every aspect of a business.
A brand is “a distinguishing symbol, mark, logo, name, word, sentence or a combination of these items that companies use to distinguish their product from others in the market.” (Source: Investopedia) In simple terms, a brand is the result of what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
There are three factors for entrepreneurs to consider when creating an ambitious brand: visuals, personality and customer alignment.
Even on a car wrap, Levi Roots’ brand is instantly recognizable. A brand means more than designing a logo. It’s about the visual language you use to communicate with customers. It’s what makes the difference between a beige business struggling to get traction and a memorable company eliciting a positive emotional connection while growing a tribe of customers.
Great branding is visible in the essence of your product or service – in everything you produce. The rise of social media makes branding even more important as platforms become increasingly visual and survey after survey shows images get greater engagement.
For example, Levi Roots uses three distinct brand colors (green, yellow and red) on sauce bottles to car wraps on vans, creating and reinforcing a strong association between the product and the values implicit in the brand’s tagline, “Put some music in your food”.
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