Branding is one of the most important things a small business can engage in, regardless of your industry or your products or services. It’s the way in which your customers understand you, what you stand for, and how you separate yourself from your competitors. Your brand is derived from what your company is today, where you aspire to go, and how you want your customers to relate to you.
What Does Your “Brand” Consist Of?
In short, everything. Your brand is how, what, where, when and to whom you communicate. The way your shop looks and feels. Where and how you advertise. Even your distribution channels – the stores that carry your goods also say something about your brand.
Your brand consists of:
- Who your company is: Take a look at the marketing niche your company fills, and how you tell your story and communicate your value proposition.
- Your brand name: Your company’s name conveys a lot. For example, “BusinessAdvising.org” versus “BizAdvice.org”, or even just “BA”. Each has a different feel, and conveys different things to your customers.
- Your brand’s imagery: Think about what you want your brand to convey visually, almost as if it has a personality. Start with your color palette, and a level of demeanor. And stick to it! Nothing sabotages a brand like inconsistency.
- Your logo: Your brand logo should position your company from an emotional vantage point. One company name could have ten different logs conveying dozens of different things. Make sure yours conveys the brand identity you want to communicate to your core audience and customers.
The Basics Of Building Your Brand?
In reality, building up your brand identity isn’t that difficult. It takes two things: planning ahead, and consistency over time. Let’s look at what’s involved.
- Define your brand. At this point in our series, you already have a persona in mind of who your customer is. Make sure your brand speaks to them, and explains how your product or service solves their problem.
- Create a “voice” for your company. In addition to knowing who to speak to, you should decide how to speak as well. This voice should be applied to all of your public-facing communication, like your website, blog, and social media. Is your brand friendly? Does your brand have a serious message, or is its voice tongue-in-cheek?
- Get a logo. Make sure the logo also communicates your brand’s identity and reinforces its voice. If you need outside help, there are a lot of logo design resources out there.
- Write down your messaging. Decide what kinds of key messages you want your brand to communicate. These should be shared among all of your staff. For example, “Our company’s brand communicates that you can have fun while getting fit” or “Our identity is based around a youthful approach to interior design.”
- Create a strong visual identity. Your brand identity is the visual representation of your company. Your name, logo, tagline, corporate brochure, website, etc. Make sure that you align all of these to your logo, and that they communicate your brand’s voice and message.
- Develop a brand strategy. Once you have the messaging and creative pieces down, it’s important to create a plan around how you communicate your brand to your customers. What touch points do you have between your brand and the people you’re speaking to? This can be your store, brochures, advertising, everything. How do you plan to approach it over the next few years?
Lastly: Be consistent. Branding extends to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything. Your brand strategy will fall on its face if you don’t keep your brand consistent across the board – and keep it consistent over many years. This consistency will lead to strong brand equity through sparking an emotional response and perceived quality.
Is there a specific topic you’d like to see us cover? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re interested in being matched with a marketing advisor that can provide customized guidance to help grow your small business, check out our advising program at businessadvising.pcv.wpengine.com.
(image: Paul Townsend “Old Fashioned British Sweets From Your Childhood” )