Building strong brands is more significant than you might realize for a company. On the surface, your brand could appear to be made up just of visual components like logos and colors, but it actually encompasses all aspects of your company’s identity. If you’re looking for answers to creating a brand, Design Thinking is a great approach to help you with that.

Although branding has always been crucial to a company, it might now be more so than ever. Your brand defines who you are; or rather who your company is and what it stands for. It explains your company’s goals, motivations, and what sets them apart from the competition. It answers groundbreaking questions like ‘why you are doing it’ and ‘what you are doing’ that are required to be answered for building strong brands and making an impact on your consumers. 

In today’s time, creating a brand comes with many challenges. Social media exposes consumers to new brands every day. While having many alternatives and being able to research them to pick the best one can be beneficial for consumers, it is challenging for businesses. Design thinking methodology can be a helping hand for businesses by using consumer-oriented principles to stand out from the rest. 

“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” 

– Paul Rand, American Art Director 

Building Strong Brands: 7 Elements of Effective Branding

What makes a brand, and why is having a solid brand marketing strategy important to the success of a venture? Your brand can be thought of simply as how consumers view your business. A brand evokes emotion, frequently unintentionally. It’s your company’s responsibility to develop a solid brand strategy to communicate your company’s values to current and potential customers alike. They will form an opinion of your firm based on your logo, name, or tweets when they see or hear them.

Let’s discuss seven elements of creating a brand that’s powerful and tells the world the message you want to tell them through branding: 

  1. Goal-oriented – A strong brand is aware of both its strengths and weaknesses. It recognizes its purpose and mission, and instead of attempting to be everything to everyone, it focuses all of its energy on becoming exactly what it was designed to be and resolving the particular issues that it was created to address.
  2. UniquenessBuilding strong brands allows you to be aware of your business’s value proposition and how you differ from the competition. Good brands differentiate themselves through a brand message that constantly alludes to the specific functions and qualities that set them apart- above and beyond- rather than entering an oversaturated market and riding on the backs of pre-existing brands.
  3. Defined target audience –  A strong brand is keenly aware of the demographics and needs of those most likely to utilize or purchase its goods or services. Every brand message is created to appeal to this thoroughly studied market. It’s acceptable for a brand to not appeal to those who are highly unlikely to become consumers.
  4. Communicates consistently – By building strong brands, companies must reflect who they are succinctly and consistently in every single piece of communication. This in no way implies that a brand needs to be unduly somber unless that’s how the brand wants to be perceived. That also implies that it’s acceptable to be clever, amusing, or cheeky—but only if the brand specifically requests it. Accordingly, each press release, memo, tweet, and Instagram post must be evaluated through the prism of the brand’s personality, and each brand representative must be acutely aware of when and how they represent the company across all marketing, PR, customer support, and social media.
  5. Reliable – Brands that endure throughout time don’t strive to pretend to be something they are not. Being authentic means that a brand not only clearly articulates who it is (purpose) but also makes sure that “who it is” is actually who it claims to be.
  6. Tough – No matter how well a brand is planned, defined, and performed, it will still receive certain unfavorable feedback. In cases where a brand has erred or must make amends, some of the criticism is fair. Some haters are just going to hate you no matter what you do. A thorough branding strategy requires an on-brand approach for handling client dissatisfaction, responding to negative online reviews, and being keen on improving themselves. 
  7. Visually appealing – While creating a brand, it is important to align the elements of the business with the elements of visual aesthetics. Strong brands have distinctive logos and colors that are easy to recognize and consistent with their brand personalities. Additionally, it must be visually uniform everywhere. Any slight deviation from this type of “image” would, at best, confuse customers and, at worst, give the impression that the company doesn’t take itself seriously. 

5 Ways to Create a Brand With Design Thinking Principlesbuilding-strong-brands-with-design-thinking

The essence of design thinking is the innovation that improves how a good or service works for customers. When it comes to creating a brand or building strong brands, design thinking fulfills all the above-mentioned elements of strong brands. 

All organizations with effective innovation initiatives begin with a thorough comprehension of the problems faced by their customers (DT can also help to build an innovation culture). Finding out what people want, like, and are willing to pay for is made easier through design thinking. It’s important to solve the appropriate problems, not just any problems. This highly collaborative approach can lead to novel customer experiences, goods, services, and brand building that can change the game while you’re on the path to creating a brand. 

The five elements of the design thinking process—empathizing, defining, ideation, prototyping, and testing—can be amalgamated in the brand-building process so that you can put the right messaging through your branding and also get an edge over your competitors. 

  • Develop your brand values by empathizing with your consumers

As mentioned before, building strong brands requires a specific goal and needs to have a purpose. For each and every brand that has ever existed, the primary goal is to create services or products that bring value to its end users. However, creating a product is not enough unless you know what to say to your consumers to ensure they make a real purchase of your product or service. 

By empathizing with your consumers, you can understand their problems, what they think about their problems, and how they will reach a solution. This makes it easier for a brand to create its own values that resonate with the consumer’s mindset. While creating a brand, you must develop your brand’s values by empathizing with them. 

For instance, Pfizer, an American multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation, had a vitamin brand named Centrum, which had not done very well in the multivitamin market. However, over time, enhancing their product innovation concepts by empathizing with potential new-age customers made them stand out in a congested industry, and Pfizer brought Centrum back on track. 

  • Define your brand’s voice as you empathize with consumers

The brand values that you created in alignment with your customers’ desires will now help you in creating a brand’s voice. The more you talk to your consumers, the more you will understand what you require to create a voice that resonates with what your consumers would like to listen to.  

Your messaging will be more in line with the goals and desires of your target audience if you include your customer’s ultimate objective in your value offer. Finding out this information directly from your consumers is one method to do it. A marketer can extract external consumer feedback and can enable locate a consumer insight and assess the customer voice easily.

  • Ideate brand identities such as brand name, logo, and color schemes

Once your brand has gotten its value proposition and brand voice, it is time to build an identity for your brand. Brand components are crucial since they aid in creating a unique brand identity. Building a strong brand identity determines how your company presents itself to customers, how you edit your social media postings, the font you use on YouTube video end screens, and really everything else.

Some of the basic elements of your brand identity are brand name, logo, color schemes, graphics and images, typography, slogans, jingles, catchphrases, etc. While creating a brand identity, one must keep in mind that the elements of your brand not only make your brand stand out visually but also be perceivable to consumers as relatable. 

  • Don’t be afraid to create a brand new identity; create prototypes instead

For years, designers and business owners have been experimenting with live prototyping, which involves placing unfinished product concepts in the setting of actual markets and client situations. Now, larger corporations are starting to catch on. This strategy intrigues many CEOs, but many are wary of releasing unfinished goods on the market out of a desire to prevent overinvesting in bad ideas. Could we damage our reputation? Will we lose customers’ faith if we expose our prototype’s flaws? It is okay to worry about all such things but the design thinking approach embraces the process of prototyping for good reasons. 

The process of building strong brands may involve a lot of prototyping. You might not know whether the first logo design will click with the consumers or not. It may require more revisions. It can be quite helpful to visualize potential solutions in order to assess the viability of particular concepts while creating a brand. That’s why creating prototypes is an essential part of the design thinking approach. The idea is to test and evaluate quickly and learn from mistakes.

  • Observe whether your branding stands the test of time 

Building strong brands isn’t like launching a missile that takes off and goes. While you are creating a brand keeping design thinking elements in mind, there may be chances that consumers do not resonate with your brand identity. And that is completely okay if your brand doesn’t stand the test of time. Keep going back and fixing the phases until you find the right one. Design Thinking offers ‘being iterative OR test and learn’ as one of its core principles, which can help brands to continuously keep evolving.

The Bottom Line: Building Strong Brands Requires Constant Efforts

There is much more to building strong brands than just a catchy logo or strategically placed advertisement. More needs to be done. Your brand needs to convey the right message to your consumers. For that, you need to understand your consumers well. By keeping design thinking principles at the core of creating a brand, you can definitely build a strong brand that your consumers can place trust in. 

About the author

Anuradha is a passionate Design Thinking practitioner with 10+ years of industry experience. She dives into the field of Design and Design Thinking, where she learns to design experiences. She is the Founding Partner and Design lead at Humane Design and Innovation (HDI) Consulting. Her professional career spans across various roles in Advisory, UX Design, Service Design, Engineering Design, Design integration, and Training. She was the lead designer of the Design Thinking and Innovation practice at KPMG. She has designed multiple digital experiences by conducting strategic UX workshops and design experiences that add functional and emotional value. To her friends & peers, she is the Bonding Agent of the team and always a Go-to person. She is an avid reader, blogger & painting enthusiast.

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