Are you getting the best from your brand?
Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a decade or more, making sure your brand is working for you is something you will have either nailed or leaves you confused. As a professional, you are proud of the work you perform. But does your branding represent the high level of service you and your most loyal customers know you provide? Poor branding sends the wrong signals and can give potential customers the impression that you don’t really understand what they need. Good branding makes a memorable impression, plus tells your existing and potential customers what to expect from you. It provides a way to distinguish yourself from your competitors and makes it really clear that what you offer is the better choice.
Did you know?
A strong brand can also have a monetary value. If your company was valued for sale, the bank would take into consideration your products, staff, your sales, and profit. If your brand is strong and recognizable with positive consumer perception, you can also put a value on that and achieve a higher sum!
So how do you make sure your branding performs well?
If you want to win the hearts, pockets, and loyalty of your customers, you firstly need to be honest with yourself and recognize what you can realistically achieve yourself and what you might benefit from some help with. Understanding that there is a process to creating a strong brand is key. These simplified steps are a starting point for ensuring your brand delivers.
- Know your customer
Of course, you know your best clients, but have you ever tried to articulate what all of your customers have in common? Where else do they shop, how far do they travel, where do they exercise and socialise? Think about surveying your existing customers and consider how you could better align your brand with their perceptions and what they value most about your company.
Think about creating a fictitious character who personifies all of your customers. You can really have fun with it and once you have that character in mind, give them a name and use them as a sense check for every piece of communication you put out. How would they respond?
- Know yourself
Can you succinctly define your business and what makes you unique from a customer’s perspective? A strong brand will have a clearly defined positioning statement and purpose. Your strapline, if you have one, will support your brand proposition by summing up the essence of everything your brand represents. What is your brand personality? Is it quirky, humorous, daring, and rugged? Or is it refined, charming, dignified, and earnest?
Practice some wordplay and see if you can distill your list into 5 words that perfectly reflect your brand personality.
3. Get the look
So now you have brand clarity, you’re ready to create your visual identity. Everything you have achieved in 1 and 2 should feed into a creative brief for a skilled brand designer to create a unique and bespoke brand identity. Your logo sits at the center of your visual identity but often overlooked is the importance of fully cohesive branding that includes typefaces, a color palette, illustrations, patterns, and/or a photographic style. Remember, a truly purposeful design that speaks specifically to your customers can’t be bought with a quick download from a logo-design site on the internet!
Top tip: Find visual references of the look and feel you wish to convey. Find examples of competitor branding you like/dislike and find out who created it. Draw up a shortlist of potential brand designers and compare the pros and cons of each. Don’t use a designer because they are the only one you know – some of the most experienced designers have a signature style that may well not suit your brand.
4. Bring it to life
Now you have a brand identity and are ready to set up your social channels, produce stationery, stickers, and signage, etc. It is so exciting when you see it all coming to life! But remember – good branding is thoughtful and lives in the messaging and quality of what you produce as much as in the visuals. That brand proposition and personality you’ve defined should be evident in all of your communications. Check that the tone of voice is on-brand, that your message is succinct, and that there is a clear call to action. Your potential clients need to know exactly what you want them to do as a result of receiving your newsletter/landing on your website / reading your flyer.
Top tip: Refer back to your brand guidelines and sanity check everything you produce. Be consistent, your customers need to develop a familiarity with your look and feel so they know where to find what they need.
Get help or DIY?
It depends. If budget is a consideration, there is a lot you can DIY but for really powerful branding, professional help is advised. A good brand consultant will work wonders to create the framework for your brand to shine and your designer can bring it to life in a way that really wows.
Blog post by Brand Confidante
Think of Andi like an agony aunt for all your brand concerns…. but one who can then help you make it happen too! As your Brand Confidante, Andi provides provide brand consultancy, direction, and creative services for busy entrepreneurs. For small businesses, solopreneurs, personal brands, and start-ups, Andi offers a personal and holistic approach for those who lack the time, resources, specific expertise, and the sort of budgets that a large agency would command.
Visit her website www.brandconfidante.com, follow her on Instagram @brandconfidante, or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. She would love to hear from you and help you to Boost Your Brand Esteem.