Knowledge

Campaign: Branding and Community in the Modern Era

The current publication aims to support the mission of “Core Book” Foundation: to support innovations, sustainable growth and to inspire, unite and educate private, public and nonprofit organizations and leaders around the globe to think and use their brands as community-building tools.

Whether you're running a private, public or non-profit organization or you're just starting to develop your own idea, you've probably heard that branding is essential. But why?

Before we clarify its great benefits, you need to know what branding is exactly. Otherwise, you probably won't be able to assess why it's so important for you and your organization to have a brand strategy on the top level.

What is Branding?

Your brand is the first thought that comes to the mind of consumers every time they hear the name of your organization or see your logo, advertisement, etc. If the first thought or emotion associated with your brand is positive, that's great, and you can dream of a bright future. If not, the chances are not so great for your organization or idea.

Brand identity is the unique identification of an organization. It is what distinguishes your organization than any other. That is its description and presents the appearance. The brand identity is a collection of all elements whose combination is how your brand looks, feels and talks to people.

To build a brand that inspires loyalty and will thrive in the future, your brand identity must convey the right messages that match your essence and be flexible enough to grow with you. That is an in-depth process that often involves teams with effective communication and design skills who know how to gain a deep understanding of your goals and ideas.

Before begin to build a strong and consistent brand identity, think carefully about the following key elements:

- Start with WHY? That is the reason why you develop your idea in the first place. Clearly and precisely state the mission of your brand/organization. What are its purpose and motivation? Why does your organization exist?

- What are your core values? The beliefs that drive your idea and the principles you will follow when making decisions, directly affect the brand identity and encourage a deeper connection between the organization and its followers.

- What is the personality of your brand? What personality would have your organization, if it were a human being? Will this person interact with users in a friendly or reserved and refined way? People have a variety of preferences and expectations. Once you have defined the set of principles that your organization stands for, you should only focus on people who have similar beliefs.

- Define your brand voice. Your brand voice is how the brand will communicate with people. What style will you use - formal or playful? The brand voice can make or break your social media presence. That's why it's essential to choose a voice that suits your personality and stick to it in the future. That will build confidence in the brand and the long-term relationship between you and your community.

- Define your unique brand positioning. Answers to the questions so far will express the uniqueness of your brand, but the positioning is done in terms of competition and the way you differ from it. How you look in the minds of consumers and whether they perceive you as a different and reliable brand will directly affect their loyalty and desire for a long-term relationship.

Why is Branding Important?

To have more control over how consumers perceive your brand, you need to take responsibility for building its image. With a proper brand strategy, the benefits are many:

Branding inspires loyalty
The most valuable asset of an organization is its loyal customers. Focus on keeping consumers because it’s cheaper to retain a consumer than to acquire a new one. If you build relationships based on emotion and trust, add a highly qualified and competent team, and a comfortable environment that unites customers and service providers so that you can attract people who have similar beliefs - your success is guaranteed.

Your brand will set you apart from the competition
Technology has changed the rules of the game, and the digital age has taken us to the virtual world. The Internet and new communication channels are transforming the market and adding new tools for influence. Every passing day it becomes more challenging to attract the people's attention. In this struggle for attention, only good branding will be able to attract their attention, because they easily distinguish brands that resonate with their emotions and personality.

A strong brand will generate recommendations
Think seriously about customer experience and channel integration. Nowadays, people are more demanding than ever. In the digital era, they have plenty of choices and expect immediate guidance and support. They share their opinion, and with the help of the Internet, it quickly reaches a broad audience and subsequently influences the choice of each potential customer.

The great brand inspires your team
No one can achieve great things and goals alone. We need people who share core values and beliefs, part of the culture of the organization. If we allow these people to thrive as experts and ambassadors, the brand will survive, significantly increase its reach and provide your teams with a goal.

Branding will increase the net worth of your organization
In this publication, we will not delve into the process and methods of evaluating an organization. In short: all assets, liabilities and future revenue and profits are taken into account when calculating its net worth. The good brand value will raise the net worth of the organization.

Celebrated brands set their own conditions
They form more profitable relationships with distribution channels or other intermediaries. Merchants and suppliers cannot afford to lose you if you are a big brand. They will do whatever it takes to keep working with you because a well-known branded product provides an opportunity for quick sales. That way, you can enjoy a higher return.

Protects the organization's income during economic downturns and crises
The high level of brand loyalty allows the organization to generate sustainable income. With long-term security and income stability, it can begin to plan new sources of growth and think about further development.

A strong brand creates real value for the consumer. In the event of a crisis, economic downturn or deterioration of the financial situation, the consumers might not immediately refuse to buy a product that is of value to them. That increases the chances of the company's revenue to be saved (at least in the short term). Thus, the organization will have more time to adapt to new economic conditions and offer the consumers a new branded product, taking into account their new needs.

Building Community
In today's digital ocean of products and services, your consumers are attracted by your vision and, as a rule, will enthusiastically approach new products that expand it. However, communities are often loyal, but this does not always turn into brand loyalty.

People have their own desires, needs and preferences. A community-based brand builds loyalty not through promotions and discounts, but by helping people meet their needs and bringing them added value. An organization that wants to stay and thrive in the marketplace needs a way to build visibility and credibility. This is happening through personal interaction and developing a lasting and meaningful relationship building. These connections are vital to success and good results.

People participate in communities for a variety of reasons - to find emotional support and encouragement, to explore ways to contribute to the better, and to develop interests and new skills. When brands build a community, they invite potential consumers to become part of something bigger and have an impact together. This shared brand experience and collective impact make people feel good.

Brand is a Verb

The verb is the driving force in language. It creates. Awakes. Strikes. Opposes. Demolish. It pacifies. And terminates. The verb interweaves the images in a dance or struggle, expressing an action, process or movement forward.

Brand is an engaging, moving and influential verb. Brand is an evolutionary process that helps an organization to make progress, to achieve more and find greater security.

Brand Consistency is a Key

The power of a brand lies in its consistency and perseverance. Consistency is the pattern of expression that influences what people think about your organization. The more consistent your messages are, the more consistent is your brand - whether through words, design, suggestions or perspective. Your brand needs to build awareness and develop trust and loyalty among consumers.

Do not leave your brand open to different interpretations and customizations. That is why it is so important to develop standards for brand consistency and clear guidelines for its management, both online and offline. Any interaction that consumers have with your brand must embody the promises and values of the brand reliably and understandably.

Brand Book as a Tool

Branding, branding, branding. In the modern era, almost every enterprise and idea wants to be distinguished with its brand identity, character and social media presence. New brands and rebrandings, bright brand books, colourific style guides, interactive brand platforms! Boutique, unusual, extraordinary, ascetic, unique, avant-garde, novelty... But is that well worth the investment within the end results?

A brand book is critical. Style guides are developed not just to allow brand designers to create eye-catching digital brand guidelines to impress other designers. They ensure brand consistency and flexibility and help to remove the anxiety of those who invest in building a new brand or going through the rebranding process.

The brand book is an analogue of a passport containing everything about the organization, including its goals, development paths, ideology and mission. In it, you will find corporate ethics and even those emotions that the brand aims to evoke in people - partners and consumers.

Brand guidelines comprehensively cover a company’s brand identity, including its:
- History, values, philosophy.
- Strategy & goals.
- Visual style guide including logo, typography, colours, slogan, photographs, animations, letterhead, business cards, design of transport and even working uniform.
- Sonic style guide.
- Audio logo and music style.
- PR and Social media guide.

This list may contain more or fewer points depending on the needs of the particular organization. It is important to understand that even the most beautiful brand book might be useless. Ultimately, its task is not to have a beautiful portfolio, but to be able to work effectively for the brand.

Brand Book 2020

The main purpose of the Brand book is to set clear guidelines to ensure consistency, focus and respect for the values of the brand and the organization. This is true not only for the designers to whom you have assigned a brand or rebranding process. Everyone in the organization - marketers, designers, developers, teams at all levels - should be able to use the guidelines of the brand. Consistency and understanding of good brand performance directly affect results and long-term strategy.

Brand guidelines could range from a few to several hundred pages. In the digital age, should they remain as PDF documents and stacks of paper folders? If you have not yet said goodbye to these two options, you will soon, it is inevitable. There are state-of-the-art solutions that allow you to have a live, updated version of the brand guidelines, accessible from anywhere, optimized for any device, as well as for printing. Besides, you can add a sound identity, even an animation.

Digital brand books save more than 30% of daily working time, as all information is stored in a convenient and easy place to which you can give access to individuals, according to their roles in the organization. Your contributors will not have to reformat files, put them in a .zip folder, and email them. Digital brand books also reduce human error and create a much stronger connection with the brand and value in the long run.

The once fantastic future is now around the corner. We already think and communicate differently. Digitalization is all around us. But technology without a story is an empty shell. Think carefully about this when looking at and deploying your brand.


Sources:
1) printpeppermint.com - “Why branding is important”.
2) kunde.dk - “Branding in the digital age”.
3) moscowbrand.ru - “Brand book development”.
4) pixlee.com - “The Role of Community in Modern Branding”.
5) hbr.org - “Getting Brand Communities Right”.

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