A word that has existed for generations, evolving through the ages and growing in momentum. Originally referred to as a stamp mark branded as a label of identity on animals. Brands or branding has grown to represent the entirety of a business and its image.
To this day, many people will assume you’re implying your logo or name of your business when the word brand is used, but reality is your brand is and should be much more than that.
We like to think of (y)our brand as the total sum of the opinions held by your customers and prospects. Whether factual (or not), it references what these individuals think they know about your business and more importantly, how this makes them feel. It is vital therefore, that when re-inventing your brand or launching a new one, you consider all potential touch points between your users and your company.
We look at the basics to help you get the most from your brand;
Consider Your Target Audience
Appealing to your best source of income is one of the most obvious reasons to consider your market. You can find this out by asking simple questions of your business, such as;
- Who would buy my products/services?
- Who currently buys my products/services?
- Where else do my buyers shop?
- What are the interests of my customers?
You are never going to please everybody, but your brand identity should do its best to cover all bases of your target market.
Create and Identity and Stick to It
The key to success is building an identity. This won’t happen overnight and may require stricter control on your marketing than you have been used to. Having a list of values that your business considers its core will help this as will surveying your customers to generate key words they associate with your work. Just look at Apple, who rebranded from 1998 -2003.
Once you have decided these values, stick to them. Cohesion is paramount. Chopping and changing your values is a recipe for disaster so take your pick and stick to your guns.
Stamp this across your business. If you decide a core value of your business is the friendly nature you treat your customers with, then make sure all phone staff, floor staff and anyone else with customer contact exude this.
Stamping Your Logo Here, There and Everywhere Won’t Cut It
Branding is changing. Gone are the days where sticking your logo on everything passes as brand continuity. In 2018, it’s all about being smart – respect your customers intelligence. You can use this to generate intrigue and help them discover the brand on their own and provides a great base for interaction.
Utilise Your USP’s
If you’re a tech company, don’t just follow the Apple blueprint. Every business is different and you should look to carve out your own unique identity. Use your USP to build a brand unique to your business and create something new. Henry Ford once said “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have told me faster horses”.
Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t make it right.
Think Long Term
Don’t go in with the offers. Overloading your customers with your latest deals only cheapens your image. Instead look to build relationships with your customer base. By staying transparent you build trust. By building trust, individuals start to believe in your core values and there’s little risk of missing expectations.
No, we don’t mean use the same imagery over and over again, or the same message for that matter. What we really mean is keep your tone consistent, no matter what the medium. This simple step reinforces the character of your brand and helps customers clarify what it is you’re offering and what they can expect.
Set Goals and Plan Accordingly
In the words of Winston Churchill – “He who fails to plan is planning to fail”. Make sure you have a list of all things you want to achieve, as the road to a great brand can be treacherous and being led from the path is notoriously simple.
In theory your brand strategy should fall in line with your business plan. This helps you gauge where you need to be at any given point and helps prevent deviation from the pre-approved brand image.
Keep Up and Fluid
Despite what we may have said about consistency, there is room for tweaks here and here. Branding is a process of building, not a race against time. You should expect to make constant amendments (in line with your business) to keep your message fresh and on trend. If you feel the old tactics aren’t working, don’t be afraid to change them. Fresh material can be a great way to engage your followers and there’s plenty of companies that have been there before (see Old Spice for example).