Have you ever met a person who you felt had a good sense of who they are, exuded confidence, and seemed truly present in their interactions?
Well, a strong authentic brand is similar to a strong, authentic person.
In fact, to better understand the three components of a brand it helps to look at a brand as a person.
Just as our beliefs function as the core of who we are, which drive our character, and inform how we compose ourselves, brands function in much the same way.
The 3 Components of a Brand are:
At our core, we hold certain values and certain beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.
And the first component of a strong brand — which is the most important is Core.
From the core, values and beliefs help guide your business, which provide a foundation to move into the second which is Character.
Here you find the personality of the brand itself.
How you speak, how you engage, what you choose to say, and what experience you provide all stem from the Character of your brand identity.
And finally, after you’ve defined these two components you can move on to the third and last component which is the Composition.
Composition is all about what the brand looks like and the overall design presentation that fits your brand.
Too many businesses jump right into the third step and start with a logo without defining the Core and Character first.
This is a fatal flaw.
While people see your brand from the outside in, you have to message from the inside out. The value you offer must be expressed through the design, which is why defining those components first is so vital.
This is why at Benu Creative our three-step process is Define, Design, and Live.
You must Define your brand’s values and personality before you can Design it and develop it.
When this is done properly you get to Live it out, utilize it, and watch it flourish.
Consider this: Have you ever known someone who didn’t really take the time to figure out who they are, and then watch them date person after person, only to see it go very badly.
This is much how customer interactions feel with brands who haven’t defined their core and character.
I once knew a guy who didn’t really take the time to know who he was. His only goal was getting girls to like him, but since he hadn’t defined what he believed he tried to become whoever he thought girls wanted him to be.
His personality constantly changed and he acted however he felt girls would respond positively to.
Sadly, he even got so desperate he let others tell him how to dress.
Unfortunately, just as the clothes didn’t make the man, a logo and a nice brand presentation don’t make a brand.
If every interaction with a new customer is like a blind date, then it’s important that you present yourself in a way that they can get to know who you are and what value you offer rather than constantly changing your brand message to please everyone.
They’ll walk away confused and frustrated.
Culture will change, but values, if well defined, are like a good foundation — they will hold the structure of your business for years to come.
This is by far the most important component of a brand and, when neglected, results in disastrous choices in life and in branding.
Many businesses jump right into the design of their brand and start marketing without knowing what value they offer.
Marketing is NOT your message, Branding IS your message.
This is because behaviors stem from beliefs — they lie at the core of who you are.
And when you understand what you value and believe as a business, you’ll understand the right decisions to make when choosing how to market and sell.
As we mentioned before, each customer interaction is like going on a Blind Date, and when you don’t know what you offer you’ll try and become whoever others want you to be.
Problem is that no one gets what they want — the customer doesn’t get value and you lose your identity along the way.
So to begin defining the core you must start with understanding your own values as a company and the mission you want to achieve with your business.
The core is the heart and soul of your business and, just as a person can’t live without their heart or soul, your business can’t survive without them either.
At the core of a person is also the brain and this is also important to function.
In this case, the brain of your brand is the business plan.
Your brain is the center of thought and strategy and the heart and soul are the center of belief and direction.
It’s important to have a business plan even if it’s a lean business plan to get you started.
A lean business plan includes things like your mission statement, market research, and business goals.
The core also involves your Brand Name which should reflect your values or your brand promise in some way.
It also includes your company messaging.
Within your company messaging is your company oneliner.
It answers the question: What does your company do?
It’s important to note that no one ever asks this because they want to know your day to day services. This question has subtext and is actually: What can you do for me?
If you can’t answer this with a concise, value-driven response then you need to do more reflection on the values and mission at the core of your business.
We outline this in our Brand Workbook and offer Brand Workshops to help you define this so, if you are interested in those comment below with the word Workbook or Workshop.
Now we can begin creating your Customer Avatar.
Some call it a Customer Profile, but we call it Avatar because we are huge Last Airbender fans.
Okay, that’s not why we call it that, but we are still huge fans nonetheless.
No, we call it an Avatar because it suggests that you step into your customers’ shoes and embody their needs.
Remember it’s an empathetic marketing strategy so it’s important to consider these needs so you can relate to them and serve them better.
Next, you’ll compare your brand to your competition.
To do an in-depth competitive comparison you can start by doing a SWOT Analysis.
This stands for Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats.
You’ll compare the strengths and weaknesses of you and your top three competitors — what you do well; what they do well; what you don’t do well; and what they don’t do well.
Then you’ll look at any threats or opportunities in the marketplace within your industry.
These are outside factors that you can’t control but that can affect your business.
Once you know how you stack up against your competition you can define your Unique Value Proposition (UVP).
This shows your audience what you offer that none of your other competitors do.
This can be something proprietary, a unique methodology, or something you offer that would be difficult for others to replicate.
As we discussed in the last section, defining your brand’s core is extremely vital to building a successful and authentic brand.
Once you’ve established what you value and believe as a brand, you’ll be able to guide business behaviors from that foundation.
That foundation helps form your brand identity which shapes the brand’s personality.
In branding, understanding your brand personality or brand voice helps your audience get a sense of who you are as a brand, what that brand is like, and what it would be like working with you.
Your personality is expressed through the personality traits and tone of voice you choose to convey your message.
A great way to think about this is to consider the last great restaurant you went to.
With any great restaurant you go for the food, but you stay for the atmosphere, and that atmosphere or experience is what brings you back time and time again.
There is a local restaurant in our town called Sweet Red Bistro that does this very well.
While their food is incredible, it’s the atmosphere that keeps us coming back. Their personality is unique and their tone is consistent which makes the experience very memorable.
Developing an atmosphere in your brand is actually about creating a great experience in all your brand’s touchpoints and interactions.
Whether it’s the user experience of your website or how concise and approachable your messaging is, all these components come together to create a good or bad experience for your audience.
If you get this wrong your audience will likely provide negative word of mouth, which can damage your brand’s reputation.
This will ultimately contribute to how others perceive the personality of your brand.
This is why the Core of your brand is so essential to success because it informs your personality, tone, and how it all comes together to make a memorable Character for your brand.
When it comes to branding most people think branding is just how a business looks, the design elements that go into it, and others even think it’s just a logo.
Many businesses make the mistake of jumping right into this step without having a sense of who they are.
This is like trying to tell a joke and only knowing the punchline.
Or planing the destination of a trip without knowing any idea where it is or how to get there.
The first two components — Core and Character are your roadmap — without them, not only will you be lost, but anyone who takes the journey with you will also become lost.
If this is the first part of your brand you are currently developing…
Go back and work through the first two components.
In order to develop a successful brand, they can not be skipped.
Starting here is like building a house without a foundation, applying paint to wet clay without sculpting it or letting it take shape first, or trying to create a successful relationship without knowing what value you want to offer.
Remember business is more than products and services, it is a relational transaction where two parties exchange value to better the life of the other party.
Much like a marriage, it requires two different people to discover their shared values in order to make healthy and beneficial decisions.
If you’ve defined the core and character of your brand it’s time to move into the fun stuff — the look and feel.
Here’s where we get into the logos, colors, fonts, icons, illustrations, graphics, and personal brand photos that encompass the brand’s composition.
Once your brand has a good heart, soul, and mind at its core, and has a good personality to make up its character, it’s time for us to come in like a fairy brandmother, dress it up to take it to the ball, and show it off.
While a brand like this — with design applied to a well-defined Core and Character — will look stunning, it will also be able to hold a conversation and charm the pants off of all those in its potential audience.
To start we recommend creating a mood board.
Pinterest is a great way to assemble any and all images and styles that speak to the core and character of the brand you’ve developed in the first two steps.
From there you can get a sense of how you want your logo to look.
A logo is the symbol of your brand and isn’t merely just a random image.
Symbols evoke meaning and value — just as a country’s flag stands for the ideals and beliefs of that country — a logo is the iconic symbol that evokes the beliefs and ideals of your brand.
Consider how Apple uses an apple with a bite out of it to evoke the idea of consuming knowledge.
Or how Nike’s swoosh is about progressing and moving forward.
You can’t really have a logo without knowing the colors and typography that will be used to create it. These elements on your mood board will help you get a sense of what you should choose to create that design.
Remember these convey psychological meaning as well, so don’t just choose what you think looks good to you. Consider what each color and font says.
Nature uses color to evoke hunger, ward off predators, and to attract mates. In branding, it can be used in much the same way.
Red actually does invoke hunger which is why it is used in so many fast-food restaurants.
Fonts can also communicate sophistication or simplicity, so do your research, and always get feedback.
Icons, illustrations, and graphics also say a lot about your brand so can consider what you want yours to say.
If you’re just starting out you may not have the budget to have custom ones developed so just make sure whatever you choose is consistent.
Don’t just pick one line drawn icon with a thick stroke (outline), one that has a thin stroke, and another which is completely filled in. It won’t look cohesive and will give a brand impression.
Make sure that they all look consistent with the rest of your brand and with each other.
Don’t forget that your photos play a big role in the perception of your brand.
If they are poor quality your audience will think you don’t care about quality.
They’ll think that if you don’t care about your own business enough to invest in quality imagery then you probably won’t care enough about them to provide quality either.
Remember people don’t do business with companies, they do business with people. Therefore, an easy way to up your game is to simply use people in your images.
Show the atmosphere that we mentioned earlier in our character section, show them what it’s like working with you, show your brand promise, and what life will look like once they’ve chosen you.
When you gather all of this together you can assemble all these pieces into a style guide or brand guide.
These documents give use case examples and help get everyone on your team on the same page so they know how to properly present your brand.
From your employees, to your manufacturers, to your marketing team, when everyone knows the core, character, and compositional components of your brand it creates the perfect atmosphere for your audience and keeps them coming back.
A brand is more than graphic design.
Developing a strong brand is much like raising a child. You instill it with values that drive its personality, character, and life choices.
Brand development starts by defining the Core messaging — your mission, values, your business plan, brand name, customer avatar, UVP, and company messaging.
Once this is all defined you can move to Character — the personality and tone of your brand create an unforgettable experience or atmosphere for your audience.
And finally, once you’ve defined it you can start designing the Composition of your brand — logo, colors, fonts, icons, illustrations, graphics, and personal brand photos that demonstrate who your Brand is at its Core and Character.
When you take the time to define your brand through these three compositional elements you end up with a confident, authentic brand that has a good sense of why it exists, what it does, and who it serves.
Need help Discovering your Brand?
I’d Like to Hear from You
Have you established your three components or are you still discovering your brand? Leave me comment below and let’s chat.
Brand Tone of Voice FAQs
What are the 3 key components of a brand?
1. Core – define your mission, values, and business plan.
2. Character – define your tone of voice, customer experience and interaction, brand personality, and your interests as a business.
3. Composition – choose a logo, color palette, typography, and other visual aspects of your business based on the different parts of your core and character. Don’t just start with your logo.
Everything stems from these 3 Cs. Decisions on your website, social media, store layout, customers, employees…everything. So branding not only helps your business, it’s essential for it to flourish.
How can I establish a strong brand identity and personality?
Customer perception is based on the vibe and persona your business gives off.
Think of your brand as if it was a person. If your brand was a person how would you describe it?
The components of a successful brand personality stem from its core, character, and composition.
Your mission and values are at the heart and soul of your brand. The business plan is the brain. And all the styles and tones you apply to it create a composition to fill out a complete personality.