By Geraud Staton
Branding, in its simplest definition, is an expectation. Whatever your brand says about you, that is the expectation that your customer has. A lot of your brand happens before anyone actual interacts with you or your product. Do you have a high-cost, high quality product? Or do you have a low-cost, high value one? You can't be both. You can't be the person who disrupts traditional thinking AND be the person who follows traditions and applies those to your work.
The question becomes: what do you want people to think about you and your product, or you and your service, or you and your business? The following eight tips will help you put your best foot forward when it comes to branding.
1. Define Your Mission
What is your mission? What is the problem that you are solving for your clients, your neighborhood or the world? Knowing this is the first part of determining what your brand is. It's important because if your brand doesn't somehow show this mission to the world, then it does not serve you very well.
2. Know Who Your Customers Are
Who are you serving? A company that looks to create a less expensive, high quality dress shoe is wanting to help everyone show a more sophisticated appearance without paying a lot. So, your customers are most likely people for whom the difference in a $200 dress shoe and a $100 dress will matter. Probably not your big time banker, But quite possibly middle executives. So, what do they like? What are their personalities? What are their needs? The more you can learn about your customers and their likes, the better you are able to serve them!
3. Decide What Qualities You Want Them to See In Your Company
You know what your mission is, and you know who it is you are serving. What part of your mission do you want them to see? This is the sweet spot for your branding campaign. If you have a company that is focused on the needs of your customers, then this overlap will be large. However large it may be, what is it about your company that you really want your target clients to see? Is it that you care for the environment? Or that you are a company that cares about families? Are you all about saving money for your customer, or providing personal service?
4. Take a Stand!
You're most likely a small business, or a smaller part of a large corporation. Take advantage of the lack of bureaucracy and stand for something big! It may not be your primary mission, but it should make a statement about your organization. You may run a small pet sitting company, but that doesn't mean that you can't support nature preservation, or even a particular patch of land that is important to you. Even the Tough Mudder obstacle courses support the Wounded Warrior Project. You can stand for something as well.
5. Create a Logo That Fits
You don't have to be an artist to design a logo that fits your company image. And you don't have to panic about creating just the right thing. You don't want a logo that takes away from your message. You might think that dog is adorable, but if you're a lender you may be giving the wrong message. In future articles we'll talk more about designing a logo. For now, if you're not comfortable with it, seek out the help of someone with design skills. They will be a huge help!
6. Integrate Your Brand
Your brand should affect how you answer the phone, how soon you respond to email, your email signature, even what you wear to the office every day. If you're a laid back company, your language should be casual. If you're a more formal organization than your language should be more glitzy.
It should be a part of your company culture, which means it isn't just you doing it. Every employee should reflect your brand. That means that communication is key. If your employees don't know the message you want to get out, then they won't know how to share it with the world.
7. Develop a Tagline
It is surprising how often a tagline is overlooked. A tagline can be a shortcut to identifying your brand. - Don't leave home without it. - Be all you can be. - Fly the friendly skies. -It takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. These help a new customer zero in on what you believe.
What's your tagline?
8. Keep it Consistent
Once you know what your brand is, be sure to duplicate it in everything you do. Use the same font for your fliers. Use the same color scheme. Is there a sound associated? If so, be sure it can be heard often. The more your customers can see your theme, the more easily they will recognize it.
It has been said in marketing that if you aren't one of the first 3 people that someone thinks about when they need a problem solved, then you are most likely not going to get their business. If you are always at the top of your clients' minds, then you will be in a place to help them when they need you!
Have any more branding ideas? We'd love to hear about them. Please share in the comments!