Marketing

What Is a Brand Footprint?

What Is a Brand Footprint?
Written by Nancy Shenker

What is a brand footprint? A brand footprint is comprised of the unique and meaningful attributes that make it appealing to consumers or businesses. Just as no two people have the exact same toes and soles, every company and public figure has qualities and philosophies that distinguish it from others.

A brand is often confused with a logo or a tagline. Those are two important parts of branding, in that they are the tangible elements a viewer sees. But a brand footprint is much broader and deeper. It is the DNA of a particular company or individual.

Every year, research companies study the “best brands.” One powerful component is the financial value of the company. Technology brands have recently found their place in these rankings. Over time, products can fail and unethical executive behavior or issues with service/product quality can have a significant negative impact on brand perception. The best brands have strong inner cores that help them power through these issues.

3 critical elements that make up a brand footprint

  1. Attributes: These are the qualities that a company or person displays. Just as a human may be perceived as “confident” or “whimsical,” brands take on their own unique personalities. For example, Tiffany’s is a brand long known for luxury and quality. Apple is a brand that is known for innovation. Shoppers line up outside its retail stores because they know they will find something novel inside.
  2. Values and Culture: These have become extremely important in today’s business environment. Chipotle has established itself as a fast-food brand that is committed to sustainability and to helping local farmers prosper. Many companies today are looking at their diversity and inclusion efforts, ensuring they welcome people of all ages, beliefs, and backgrounds. These factors are not only critical to attracting talent, they can have an impact on customer perception and purchase behavior.
  3. Identity: Here’s where your logo, colors, fonts, tagline, and other graphic and verbal elements come into play. Over time, those visual triggers evoke an immediate response from consumers. Some of the best examples of this include the Starbucks, Apple, Amazon, and Nike logos. Even without words, viewers immediately know what brand they’re engaging with and have strong perceptions of the experience they’ll have when they deal with those companies. Your website is also where your brand should shine. Visitors should be able to immediately take away what your company stands for.

How do you build a brand footprint?

The best brands are authentic and clearly distinguishable from other brands in that category. User research is a critical component of developing a brand. What’s most important to the people whose needs you’re fulfilling? How is YOUR brand going to deliver those benefits and communicate them in a way that’s clear, credible, and compelling?

Marketing agencies and consultants often have their own processes for helping companies hone in on their unique brand footprints. They range from multi-day exercises that involve in-depth research and brainstorming with all members of a business team. Other brand development exercises (especially those for small- and mid-sized businesses) are simpler and more pragmatic.

In any case, the creation of a brand footprint is not a “one and done” task. Great brands stay in touch with the changing needs of consumers/businesses and are able to evolve to meet those needs without sacrificing their personality and core values.

Creating your brand requires you to look at your footprint relative to that of your competitors and ensuring the ways in which you differ remain relevant and believable to the people you serve.

Truly great brands have evolved over time but the promises they make to their customers and prospects remain meaningful, memorable, and timeless. L.L. Bean and Jim Beam are two examples of long-lasting American brands that continually commit to quality, service, and reliability.

Whether you sell hiking boots or high-tech solutions, having a clear and relevant footprint will enable you to appeal to your buyers, attract the best talent, and develop new products that fit with your mission.

Is your brand footprint on the road to success? Learn more about the elements that make up your brand's unique footprint. #marketing #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

About the author

Nancy Shenker

Nancy A. Shenker has been an independent consultant, writer, and speaker for more than 15 years, following a career as a C-level marketing executive. Her company theONswitch provides virtual CMO services. A content strategist and writer, she is the author of four books and publisher of five business and lifestyle websites. Her passions are humanistic tech, food, gadgets, and travel.

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