The ins and outs of Branding
Proper branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, whether it is large, small, B2B or retail motivated. An effective brand strategy gives you a huge edge in any increasingly competitive market. But, lots of people still wonder… what exactly is “branding”?
To put it simply, your brand is essentially your promise to your customer. It communicates to them what they can expect from your services and your products. It differentiates what you’re offering them in comparison to what your competitors are offering. Your brand is derived from who you are and who you want to be, as well as how people identify you.
Ask yourself, are you the groundbreaking rebel in your industry or the reliable veteran? Maybe you’re the fast paced and eager newcomer or perhaps the strong and steady experienced one? Also, is your product the high-end and high-priced option, or the less expensive but high-value alternative? It is important to recognize that despite some people’s views, you can’t be both; we all need to understand that we can’t be all things to all people.
Plus, we need to consider that who you are as a brand should be based (to some degree) on who your actual target market wants and needs you to be. Then once we have established the direction, we can create the actual foundation of your brand, which is your logo and it is a piece that you need to be confident in and communicates your message successfully.
It is important to come up with a strategy when you are creating (or have created) your brand and logo. Your brand strategy is always based on where, what, when, how and to whom you plan on communicating your message. It is all about where you advertise, your distribution channels and what you actually communicate visually and verbally.
Consistent and strategic branding will then lead to strong brand equity, meaning that you have the added value brought to your company’s products or services. For example, in a retail aspect this allows you to essentially maintain your pricing or even charge more for your brand than what an identical, unbranded product would command.
Define Your Brand:
Defining your brand is essentially a journey of self-discovery for your business. It can be tricky, time-consuming and sometimes even uncomfortable because you have to ask yourself honest questions like; what is your mission? What do people already think of your company and what are the benefits and features that people get from your products or services?
You have to think about what qualities you want others to associate with your company.
Also, you have to do your homework by learning the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective clientele.
And keep in mind that you cannot simply rely on what you think they think. You have to know what they think.
Here are some tips about branding to keep and mind that you may find helpful:
1) Get a great logo and make sure you use it … but plastering your logo on absolutely everything isn’t going to cut it. The future of branding is making sure it is fluid and engaging so don’t be overzealous and allow the process to feel natural.
2) When branding and marketing, have respect for your customers’ intelligence and don’t give everything away up front. Create intrigue and allow them to discover more about your brand and business for themselves. You will foster more ambassadors who appreciate being able to tell others what they have discovered about you.
3) Make sure you incorporate your brand in to everything. Branding extends to every aspect of a business and it is important to remember that things like how you answer your phones and even your e-mail signature fall in to that category.
4) Create your branded messages and develop a tagline and a voice for how you want to communicate. It is important to have a memorable, meaningful and brief statement that captures the essence of your brand and also projects the feel of your brand whether it friendly, formal, relaxed or witty.
5) When you are building your brand, think of it as a person. Every one of us is an individual whose personality and character is made up of beliefs, values and purposes that define us and we are all drawn to companies that we can connect with.
6) Aim to build relationships with your customers. Don’t dress up your offering and raise expectations that end in disappointment, create trust and be clear who your company is, this will bring loyalty and advocacy from your clientele.
7) Be innovative, bold and daring and stand up for something that you believe in. Big brands can be burdened by large layers of bureaucracy that prevent them from being flexible and responding to the ever-changing needs of their customers. Make sure you see the angles and avenues you can take to capitalize on your own flexibility.
8) Be consistent and true to your brand because clients won’t return to you, or refer you to somebody else, if you don’t deliver on your promise. All of your hard work up to this point will be lost and your attempts at establishing a brand will eventually fail.
And in the end, as we’ve said many times before, make sure you have fun. If you truly enjoy what you do and are passionate about your company then translate that in to your brand, let it show through, it will speak volumes.
Tags: b2b, branding, communicate, company, logo, strategy