15 Branding Principles (For A Powerful Strategy)

So many businesses fall into the “easy road branding trap”. 

Get yourself a well-designed logo & visual identity. Get your website up, run traffic to your product and you’re in business. 

It’s a trap because this isn’t branding. 
 
Developing visual brand assets can be categorised as “branding”, though it’s only a very small slice of a much bigger pie. 

Branding is about making a business the most appealing choice the intended audience to ultimately influence their buying decisions. 
 
To do this affectively you need a guiding compass, so in this article I’m going to show you 16 of the most critical branding principles to live by. 

So many businesses fall into the “easy road branding trap”. 

Get yourself a well-designed logo & visual identity. Get your website up, run traffic to your product and you’re in business. 

It’s a trap because this isn’t branding. 
 
Developing visual brand assets can be categorised as “branding”, though it’s only a very small slice of a much bigger pie. 

Branding is about making a business the most appealing choice the intended audience to ultimately influence their buying decisions. 
 
To do this affectively you need a guiding compass, so in this article I’m going to show you 16 of the most critical branding principles to live by. 

15 Branding Principles For Brand Strategists

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Be Different, Not Better

The most successful and the most loved brands in the world are not necessarily the best, but they’re almost always unique.

They do things differently to the rest. They speak with a unique tone of voice, they provide a different brand experience or live by a unique philosophy.

Most businesses focus too much of their time, effort and attention trying to find ways to be “better” and even if they achieve it, it most often doesn’t have the value that the effort warrants.

“Better” is more if the same but “different” is something. Ultimately, “Different” is better than “Better”. 

Specificity & Relevance Wins

There are very few markets today that aren’t full of noisy competitors scrapping for the attention of their shared audiences.

Some brands attempt to speak the loudest with aggressive and constant marketing campaigns (Which is not cheap). While that’s one strategy, it’s out of reach for most brands because of the cost.

The guerrilla approach is specificity and relevance. The more specific you are about who you’re targeting and the more directly you speak to who they are, the more likely you are to resonate and influence.

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Story Over Product

The product is what will help the audience to achieve the end results though it’s rarely the product itself that influences the decision to buy it. 

Most of our buying decisions as humans are made in our sub-conscious long before it ever reaches our consciousness so brands must communicate on a higher level to engage the emotional brand.

Story is without a doubt, one of the most effective forms of communication to engage the human mind and light up the neural connections.

So align your brand with an emotional narrative and make it stick.

Connect With Your Why

Your “Why” is essentially the reason you exist beyond money. 

Simon Sinek wrote a book called “Start With Why” which opened the idea to the belief that “brands don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it”.

While it’s possible to connect with your audience through your why, for most brands, internal connection with the brands why is where the real power is. 

If the leadership team is clear on the brands existence and use that to guide decisions and actions, that belief can become the driver behind the brands success. 

Their Challenges Are Your Gateway

What consumers say and what they do are often two distinctly different things.

When looking for a way to connect, find the subtext behind the challenge.

For Example: 

If a major challenge of a consumer is “I want to cook more I just don’t have the time”, don’t jump to the lazy approach which might look like this:

“She’s Time-Poor, She values healthy eating, Let’s put a focus on our nutritional value” 

How you resonate lies beyond the obvious, in the sub text which could be:

“Although she says she wants to cook more, that not what she really wants. She just doesn’t want to feel guilty for ordering take-away all the time. Let’s make her feel better about her choices.” 

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Address The Cognitive Dissonance

Ok, before I explain this one, let’s break down what cognitive dissonance is. 

It’s when the beliefs, values or behaviours of a person contradict each other.

For example: If you hold the belief that you’re a person of your word yet you constantly fail to follow through on what you say you will, that’s cognitive dissonance right there.  

Inconsistency between beliefs and actions causes friction with the law of consistency, which is our desire to be aligned with who we believe we are.   

Use storytelling to tell them they are who they believe, they just need help. 

Define The Enemy

Every target market shares common traits, adjectives, desires, fears and enemies.

An enemy is the most common pain-point amongst your target market.

This could be a group of people, a philosophy, a belief, an approach or anything else that stands in the way of that audience ultimately achieving that goal.

If you can pin-point the source of pain and position against it, you can resonate  through a shared emotion which is a powerful technique. 

Identify Their Drive

With every solution we buy, we’re either running towards something or away from something…

We run towards our desires because we want to achieve them and away from our fears because we want to avoid them. 

Some consumers have an equally weighted fear and desire while others a driven more by their desires or more by their fears.

Take the time to understand what drives your audience and leverage that understanding in your position and messaging.