Branding is one of those business buzzwords that gets thrown around a lot these days. We all know it’s important because everybody keeps going on about it, but a lot of businesses don’t understand it’s full power. Everybody could name plenty of successful brands, but they probably couldn’t tell you how or why they are so effective. One of the key mistakes that people make when they are starting out is that they think sticking their logo on everything constitutes good branding. That may have been the case twenty years ago, but the world is a much different place now. While it is important for people to recognize your logo, and associate it with quality, good branding goes much deeper than that.
Our thoughts about branding are often focused on customers and the way that they see a business. That is one significant element of successful branding, but you need to be thinking bigger. Perhaps the most useful way to describe it is the identity of a business. It should not be an afterthought, dreamt up by the marketing team. It needs to be at the very core of your company, and you have to work from the inside out. If you nail down a clear identity for your business on day one, it will spread outwards and become an integral part of everything that you do moving forward. This way, you will create a coherent brand that is present in all aspects of your business.
If you are in the early stages of a new business, you should already be thinking about creating a brand. Here are a few practical tips to get things going.
Define Your Brand
This is where you need to be thinking about the identity of your business. A helpful tip is to think of your business as a person. Every person has beliefs, values, and goals. So should your business. Ask yourself what your end goal is, beyond making a profit. Then think about what your values are. Are you committed to sustainable, eco-friendly business? Are you focused on excellent customer experience? Whatever it is that you are passionate about, should be a major part of your brand. You then need to consider what your target audience is going to be and whether they will engage with this personality. A younger demographic are not going to relate to a more traditional character, so you’ll need to come up with something a bit more out there. By thinking about your business as a person and building a brand around them, you start to give it character. Personality and character in business make some brands more successful than others. Once you start bringing that character out in your marketing materials, then you’ll start to develop a brand.
Consider Brand When Hiring Employees
There are many different reasons that you would or wouldn’t hire somebody. Obviously, they need to be qualified, reliable, hard-working and all the rest. But something you may have overlooked when interviewing potential employees is your brand. If your business was a person, would the candidate get along with them? Do they share the same values and goals? If the answer is no, then this person is probably not a good fit for the company. Making sure that all of your employees are on the same page is an integral step in creating a solid, focused brand.
If you’ve done everything right so far, then your business should have a clearly defined personality that engages with its customer base. When it comes to drawing up marketing campaigns, you need to bring in elements of this identity. The most important thing to remember here is to be consistent. If the tone that you use, and the nature of your marketing materials, is inconsistent, then the illusion is broken. Your brand is no longer a personality that customers can engage with; it is a series of incoherent and muddled advertising material. As well as the tone, you should settle on a simple color scheme that you use across the board. If you get it right, people will immediately associate it with your business, but you need to make sure it is used across the board. If you are are selling online, your ecommerce website design needs to incorporate all elements of the brand. Any billboards, posters or flyers that you create need to be using the same color scheme and tone.
Don’t just think about marketing materials when considering your tone either. When you are speaking directly with customers, maintain the character of your brand at all times. Even the slightest fluctuation will ruin your brand.
Don’t Repeat The Same Thing Over And Over
Branding doesn’t just mean marketing that spans a lot of different platforms. Using the same message over and over, on separate mediums doesn’t make a good brand. Conveying a number of different messages, that all have the same focus and end goal, is the best way to create a winning brand.
Don’t Copy Other Brands
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a good brand is just about color scheme and font. Coca-Cola isn’t a multi-billion dollar empire because people like white writing on a red background. They are successful because they have spent years developing an excellent brand. You can’t emulate the profits of big companies by copying their branding. It won’t work, and you’ll waste a lot of valuable time and money on marketing campaigns that don’t increase sales. In fact, you’ll probably do more harm than good if you try to copy the branding of big companies because they are falling out of fashion these days. People are losing trust in some of the larger companies, so they are trying to emulate the kind of small business branding that you are likely to be using. If anybody is going to steal ideas, they’re more likely to be pinching from you.
As long as you follow these simple steps, you should have no trouble building a brand that customers will recognize for years to come.