Cheddar Creative: How to differentiate your brand through brand engineering
Building a strong brand (or brands) can be make or break for a business. In 2022, Salsify found that 46% of consumers say that they would pay more for a brand they trust, and in 2019, Lucidpress noted that having a consistent brand can increase revenue by 33%. Branding is important for revenue, and that’s why we wanted to sit down with some branding experts from one of our partner agencies, Cheddar Creative, to find out how companies can differentiate their brand. Read on to discover Rich and Cassie’s thoughts.
We met with Rich and Cassie and asked them a few questions on Branding. The article you’re about to read are excerpts from that interview
What is brand building?
Rich: Well, brand building includes the brand strategy, helping companies figure out who they are, their mission, their purpose, their values, all of that. Crucially, it’s then about actually putting all of that into a strategy. This might start at the very beginning with logo creation, as well as design work and visual branding. At Cheddar Creative, our strength is more in the design side, and we use design thinking to solve these problems.
Why is brand identity important for businesses?
Rich: Brand identity is very important because it’s how you are recognised and, hopefully, remembered by your target audience. In the pure sense, it’s things like your logo, your brand colour palette, and is almost the visual identifier of who you are, but it’s also bigger than that. It’s also your culture and your values. So really, it is a way to help people instantly recognise you and if your brand identity is strong enough it will help them remember you for long enough to make a Google search, or even a year from now when someone asks them for a recommendation, they could recall you. It’s creating that identity for people to resonate with so that they hold you in their mind for when they’re ready to get in contact or make a purchase.
And what about brand positioning? How does that relate to brand engineering?
Rich: Brand positioning is really just laying out your stall as to who you are. So if you look at someone like Apple, you would say, well, they’re very design-driven, they’re all about simplicity. Um, it’s all about quality and dare I say, it is cool! So if you’re part of the Apple tribe, you know, that’s what you want to identify as being as well and obviously very innovative, etc. That’s how they’ve positioned themselves in the market. Brand engineering was something we developed for our website, because we looked at all of these things like brand building, identity and positioning. Brand engineering is about the big question: ‘how do you reach that position?’
So you can decide, this is how we want to be perceived in the marketplace, but you know, the old saying, ‘It’s not who you say you are, it’s who your customers say you are’, that’s your brand identity. You can decide ‘this is how we want to be positioned and this is how we want our customers to perceive us’, but brand engineering is the actionable part of that, so the ‘how do we get there?’
Why is it important for businesses to learn about brand engineering?
Rich: The marketplace is noisy and competitive, almost in whatever sector you are in now, even if your sector is quite niche. How do you rise above that noise and really differentiate yourself? There’s lots of things you can compete on. If you’re just competing on one thing, so say you are competing on price and then a new competitor comes into the market and they undercut you, well, what are you competing on then? Why would people come to you then? Because you are not the leader anymore on that particular thing.
So the whole brand engineering concept is about helping people to create brands with some differentiation and a clear strategy. I’d argue there’s probably no such thing as a USP anymore. You know, there’s some differentiation, but there’s just so many things that plug into it. Like the likability factor, what extra stuff can you do to actually create that brand and that value system that other people are going to want to buy into or be a part of. It’s the added value that is important to clarify and promote.
Cassie: In the current climate, businesses have to work harder to keep their customers because there are so many people in the market now. So, if you don’t have a strong brand running through consistently, then customers would go elsewhere. They have no need to remain loyal unless you give them a reason. One bad experience and they move on. So it’s not only important to have a memorable logo, but to know how to talk to your customers and engage with people online and all these other things together will help to build your brand in a positive way.
Rich: It’s about consistency, that the brand is your promise to your users and your customers. If you are not consistently delivering on that, then as Cassie says, people will vote with their feet and think, well, you know, you’ve let me down. Or you just didn’t live up to that promise. So we are off to the next place.
Cassie: It’s more than a brand, isn’t it? Ultimately if your product’s rubbish, no one’s going to buy it, or at least they won’t buy it a second time, it doesn’t matter how pretty your logo is or how well you speak to people, it’s all got to be working in tandem and be delivering the same quality and the same messaging across the board with no plates being dropped.
Rich: And having an amazing product in service doesn’t necessarily guarantee success! So if you don’t have that really robust brand strategy underpinning that. Yeah. I mean it’s, it’s tough out there.
What does it mean to build a brand image? How do we build a brand image?
Rich: Building that brand image requires consistency. It’s about figuring out who you are and, I don’t think it necessarily applies in all cases, but I think actually having a vision statement, you know, mission statement, values, actual defined values. I personally feel like shouting about those to your customers is a bit pointless. I don’t think they really care. I don’t think they need to know what your vision statement is. They just need to see you consistently delivering upon it.
It’s more important that you have that value system in place when you are recruiting and you’re building a team that you want to bring people in that share those common values, to make that team stronger and to actually create that brand image. But shouting about it on social media, you know, this is our vision and these are our values. No one cares, you know, they just wanna know how you solve their problem. In a nutshell, brand image is about creating that public perception and hopefully the brand that you say you are is what they agree with.
How is branding important to B2B and not only B2C?
Rich: Well, we’re all people aren’t we? We all have very high expectations. This is an interesting thing, because we’ve had clients in the past and they’ve asked us, what tone of voice would you recommend for our LinkedIn channel versus our Instagram channel versus our email marketing. And I think maybe, you know, it’s case by case basis, sometimes but it’s about who you are as a brand. If you are a brand who is accessible, laid back, you know, if your audience is a bit more youthful, then that tone of voice needs to apply across the board, not to separate channels. But at the end of the day advertising to B2B or B2C it’s about who you are as a brand and what you are trying to communicate to your audience.
So what are your top three tips for anyone thinking about changing their branding?
1- Don’t rebrand just to follow a trend. If there’s a deficiency in your product or service or even in your culture, it might seem easier to just rebrand. But in the majority of cases, you’ve got to look a bit deeper than just changing your colour palette, that won’t fix anything long term.
2-Use it as an opportunity to assess everything. Don’t just approach it as ‘we need to freshen up our visual identity’. Actually look at the brand as a whole and revisit the culture, the values, the kind of softer side of things and not just the public facing branding. Ask yourself ‘is this still who we are as a brand?’ And, and if it isn’t, then it’s a good opportunity to reevaluate all of that stuff, not just the brand image.
3- Approach it as an evolution of the brand. Sometimes a whole step change is required. If a company has been bought out by another company, then the rebrand is the right thing. But I’d say 9 times out of 10, you need to approach it as an evolution. ‘How do we move the brand from here to here?’ ‘How do we take all the stakeholders along with us?’ If sudden changes happen and they don’t understand what you’ve done or why you’ve done it, that can cause a bit of a breakdown in the culture. So really get everyone on the same page. Hopefully they’re then really excited about it. And they see it as a really positive evolution for the business.
How is SEO important for brand strategy?
Rich: Hopefully, the picture that we’ve painted is that there are so many parts to your brand identity – that it isn’t just brushing up your logo. So much of the brand building is done online these days. And again, you have so many platforms like your website, social media and email. What is essentially online brand building is creating your digital brand and giving that quality customer experience that means everyone goes away thinking, oh, that was amazing. I’m gonna buy from them again. SEO is important for brand building because it creates visibility, making it easy for people to find you in the first place and to be relevant to them. SEO means they don’t then click through various websites trying to find what they were looking for. So essentially, it’s a small piece in the overall puzzle, but it’s a vital piece.
And last question, if people want to learn more about this topic, can you suggest any newsletters or any books?
Rich: We use platforms like InVision, um, Figma, Webflow & IDEO send a really good newsletter. But books are my real love. I think for the brand identity side Alina Wheeler – Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team is very good. You can go into it knowing very little about brand identity and it sort of takes you all the way through. The Science of Storytelling – Will Storr is a fairly recent book and that’s really good because it’s more about the psychology, about how people make decisions, why they buy things, you know, and ultimately we all like a story. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation – Tim Brown is really good. Tim Brown is one of the head honchos at IDEO, and it’s all very much that design thinking. And finally I’d say probably my number one would be Shoot The HiPPO: How to be a killer Digital Marketing Manager – Tom Bowden, Tom Jepson, hahah but no seriously. So we were approached to be an early reader of it in Summer 2020, and it really sort of takes you through the basic knowledge of marketing. If you are, say, a junior level marketing manager, marketing executive, and you are wanting to learn how you get to the next level and progress your career it’s great.