Building brands that resonate: how to elevate your brand with a holistic branding approach?

A thorough analysis on how to build a strong and competitive brand, highlighting the importance of creating emotionally linked narratives and consistent overall brand experiences.

Understanding the role of emotions and trust in building a strong brand

In today's fast-paced world, making purchase decisions can be overwhelming, as Marty Neumeier suggests in his book “The Brand Gap”, people have too many choices and too little time. Adding to the complexity of the situation, most offerings have similar quality and features. As a result, we tend to make our purchasing decisions driven by our emotions and based on trust.

Emotions play a primary role in guiding our buying decisions, offering a way to navigate the available choices without becoming overwhelmed trying to analyse all the cognitive information about a product or service. This is especially true when it comes to the purchase of expressive products —those with symbolic meaning such as clothes, perfumes, watches, etc. In such cases, it becomes too complicated to separate the individual attributes and analyse the benefits through cognitive processing. Therefore, the decision-making process is mainly influenced by our emotions. This, among other factors, provides emotionally linked brands with a competitive advantage.

“Emotions play a primary role in guiding our buying decisions, offering a way to navigate the available choices without becoming overwhelmed trying to analyse all the cognitive information about a product or service.”

Trust also plays a crucial role in the purchase decision. Customers develop trust in brands when their experiences consistently meet or beat their expectations. These expectations rely on what the brand promises to deliver, also known as the brand promise. Consistency in delivering on this promise helps consumers trust the brand and even build a coherent narrative of who they are around the consumption of this brand. It allows them to build and maintain their identity.

Now, trust is the consequence of a company being coherent in its narrative and delivering on its promises over time. But, this is not just limited to how customers experience your products or services, but your brand as a whole. Consistency in the tone of voice, visual representations of the brand, and overall customer experience are equally important.

And by this, we don’t mean consistency in the usage of the logo and colour palette, or following the brand’s visual guidelines, which is quite obvious at this point. We are talking about aligning the whole brand experience —visual identity, tone of voice, products, service, slogan, online flagship store, and every other brand touchpoint— with a major concept rooted in a comprehensive brand strategy.

Bridging the gap: The Grebban approach

A gap between brand strategy and visual identity can completely divide a company from its customers. I once read that it’s like having the best speakers and a great song but missing the right wire to connect the speakers to the music. Acknowledging the importance of this connection, Grebban builds multidisciplinary teams, where analytical and logical thinking meet creative and visual expertise.

As a leading e-commerce design agency, we actively promote the integration of brand and conversion, by simultaneously combining data-driven “converting designs” with inspiring brand experiences. As a result, we create online flagship stores rather than conventional e-shops.

Our clients’ numerous success stories only confirm that this is the winning formula for accomplishing both short and long-term objectives—Achieving, not only, strong returns on sales but also establishing lasting relationships with customers.

This approach is equally effective on branding projects, where a visually appealing identity is as important as reaching the business objectives. This is where brand strategy becomes so fundamental. It’s not just about boosting sales nor just about aesthetics; it involves crafting a brand narrative that communicates values, creates meaningful connections, and aligns with business objectives.

Our holistic understanding of branding involves a five-step process that helps us guarantee consistency in every aspect of the brand:

  • Brand audit: a thorough examination of the brand’s current status, analyzing strengths, weaknesses, and market perception.

  • Brand platform: a foundational framework defining the company’s essence, and the core narrative of the brand.

  • Design pillars: a visual translation of the brand’s core values— as defined on the brand platform.

  • Visual identity: logotype, colour palette, typography, imagery, 5th element, etc.

  • Brand Guidelines: a manual intended to establish an effective and consistent use of the brand.

Certainly, some companies approach us with an already existing brand platform. In these cases, we conduct an exhaustive brand analysis to understand every aspect of it. Collaborating closely with the client, we evaluate whether the existing brand values and narrative are still aligned with the company’s goals and remain relevant to the target audience. Once confirmed that these elements still resonate, our recommendation often leans towards a strategic brand refresh rather than a full rebranding. During this phase, our efforts are dedicated to uplifting the visual identity in perfect harmony with the existing brand platform, ensuring a cohesive and revitalised brand that maintains its core identity.

Crafting strong and compelling brands

To summarise, and focus on what may be of greatest interest to you: How do we build a strong and compelling brand? As we discussed earlier, a strong brand is one that conveys emotion, predictability, and trust. We’ve already covered the foundations for building predictability and, consequently, trust. But, what about emotion? How can we craft a brand narrative that resonates emotionally with an audience?

The key lies in getting to know your target group— understanding what matters to them, and what they care about. By recognizing these insights, we can shape a narrative that effectively communicates the brand’s history, purpose, and values in a way that emotionally resonates with them. It’s about forging a personal connection that goes beyond the actual product or service you offer.

After all, humans are wired to connect with each other through stories. Therefore, brands that can humanize themselves and comprehend their customers’ values are the ones that resonate the most and build the strongest, most loyal relationships with their customers.

Now, there is one more thing we need to understand. A brand’s job is to create a set of associations in people’s minds. These associations will shape customers’ memories of the brand, and enhance the perceived value of the product or service this brand offers. For a brand to be strong, these associations should be:

  • Relevant and memorable: To leave a lasting impression in consumers’ minds.
  • Distinct: To set your brand apart from competitors.
  • Desirable: To be perceived as a value that people want to acquire or identify with.

In conclusion, a strong and compelling brand should be firmly grounded in a comprehensive brand strategy and a brand platform that guarantees every aspect of the brand is cohesively aligned under a singular distinct, memorable, and desirable narrative that emotionally resonates with its audience.


Read next