3 Keys to Branding Your Business
People often associate a company’s brand with the logo, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Modern branding isn’t just about putting a name on a product. It’s about expressing the values and qualities of a business; and doing so in a manner that will resonate with, and appeal to, its desired customer base. The goal of branding is to firmly establish the values and culture of your business within your customers’ minds, and thereby lock them in as your customers. There are three main elements to this goal:
- Brand Awareness – simply getting people to know you exist and what you do.
- Brand Recognition – getting people familiar with your brand, so they no longer need to ask what you do.
- Brand Loyalty – getting people to come back again and again.
There’s no auto-pilot that will ensure a company’s branding efforts will be successful, but there are three basic keys to achieving Brand Awareness, Recognition and Loyalty.
Key #1: Creativity.
Brand Creativity is the fun part! Let your imagination run wild and see what materializes. This is chance to really create something unique, which is the whole point of a brand identity—to distinguish your business from the competition.
The best brand designs carry a heavy load with ease. They can communicate the personality of the company—and often of its ownership—to its customers, and also speak the language of those customers to really connect with them. A company’s branding should focus on the receiver as much as it focuses on the source.
Your brand is a promise that must be kept.
Your company’s brand tells people what your business is, what it’s all about, and what they should expect if they choose to give it a try. Therefore it’s important for your brand to convey its qualities accurately and honestly, as well as creatively. Mixed messages can create confusion, and if a customer doesn’t have the experience that the branding promised, they may be disappointed. If they’re disappointed, they may never come back, and won’t recommend your business to their friends or family.
Key #2: Commitment.
Once you’ve developed a brand, stick with it! Promote it. LIVE it. If you have a brand, you’ve probably invested a considerable amount of time, money or both, in it. In order to see a return on that investment, you’ve got to continue to build and reinforce your brand.
Talk the talk, and walk the walk.
You must be diligent in maintaining the intangible qualities of your branding. Keep up appearances. If a warm, friendly, sunny disposition is part of the company’s personality, do your best to deliver it, even if you’re having a really bad day.
It’s also important to commit to your cause. Your branding efforts should show both what your business can do for its customers, and why you do it. What’s your passion? What is the company’s mission? Let it shine!
Make sure you always have your brand package materials in stock. Hand-written signs and notices only work if the hand-written look is actually part of your company’s brand. If state-of-the-art technology is your business, sharpie on yellow note paper taped to a wall doesn’t send the right message.
Above all, always express your brand with confidence. You believe in yourself, and in your business, so let it show! When customers see your confidence in your brand, they’ll have confidence in it as well.
Key #3: Consistency.
No matter where your brand is displayed, all your materials, ads, promotions, and website should express the same appearance and values. Aside from the company logo, visuals don’t necessarily need to be identical, but they certainly should share common design traits that link them all together like a family: colors, fonts, design elements… and the intangibles as well.
It’s not unheard of for a company to present two or more completely different logos in their materials. Often, small businesses will “take what they can get” from different sources who produce their company’s marketing materials. If you order van graphics before you actually have a brand package design, the graphics installer will probably design one for you, but this design will be for the van and probably nothing else. Your online ad may look different, and so may your flyers and your promotional merchandise.
E Pluribus Unum.
The problem with a mismatched brand package is that the customer will often interact with these items away from your establishment, and without you or your employee present, which means you have no way of ensuring that the customer knows who they’re dealing with. Every interaction customers have with your brand should communicate your brand’s identity clearly, and in a positive way, but when a customer sees a different logo, they probably think it’s a different company! If you’re not taking care to send a consistent message, then you’re creating confusion and risking the loss of client confidence, therefore it is crucial to ensure that all branded materials match and send the same message.