Decide How You Want to Be Known in the World and Build Your Brand Accordingly
An effective brand will give your product or service an edge in today’s competitive market. What is branding? Why should you create a brand? A brand expresses everything your product or service represents and separates you from your competition. A brand is your customer’s perception of your product or service, good or bad. Not just your brand name or your logo, branding extends to your website, how your phones are answered, and the way that customers interact with you on social media or in person. Creating a strong brand involves a well thought-out marketing strategy.
With a strong brand, your product or service is quickly recognized and helps you stand out from your competition. Customers can make informed decisions based on your brand. For instance, customers know that they will be able to take their children to a Disney movie without any further investigation into the movie because Disney has created a strong brand recognition of family oriented movies. A consumer seeking a chicken sandwich for lunch recognizes that Chik-Fil-A has created a brand in their quality, price, and their recipe for the chicken sandwich, right down to the pickle. Conversely, DHL failed to create a strong brand for themselves in a market already dominated by two strong brands, UPS and FedEx. DHL is very strong in some markets, but as of this writing does not compete with UPS or FedEx in the US market.
So how do you go about developing your brand? My first recommendation would be to start by reading this blog post. My second recommendation would be to read what Maria Ross has to say. She’s the go-to person for small business branding.
When developing your brand, it’s important that you first decide how you want to be known in the world. What do you stand for? What do you stand against? What do you want your customers to think about you, say about you, share about you? How do you want them to feel?
Find out what your customers think of your product or service and what they want, need, and expect to receive from it. Don’t assume you know what they think. Conduct research to create a branding strategy. How do you do that? Ask them. Creating a branding strategy identifies how you want your product or service to be identified.
Creating a logo that conveys your product personality is one step in that process. There are a variety of places you can go. I’ve had logos designed by The Valdez, but you can also find good work on 99 Designs. Another key to branding your product is creating a tagline for your company and a slogan for your product. Sometimes in the beginning stages of a company, the tagline and slogan are one and the same.
Once you’ve created your brand, you need to get it into the hands of your customers. Once it’s done, be sure to put your logo on everything connected to your business; from emails to mailing labels and letterheads to your website. The more people see your branding the easier it will be to create a strong brand awareness for your product.
Once you’ve done that, you need to be sure that you’re consistent with your brand. Consistency goes a long way to establishing a strong brand and imprinting it on your customers’ and potential customers’ minds. UPS created a strong, consistent brand from their brown trucks to their employees brown uniforms. A strong brand creates confidence in your customers and allows them to know what to expect of your product or service.
I see some companies that are always fiddling with their brand. A new logo, a slight variation, a new identity. At first this is pretty common as a business is “finding itself.” Once you’ve figured out who you are, what you stand for and what your branding should be, please think long and hard about changing your brand. It can be unsettling for your customers (and your community/market) and changes can make people wonder about the stability of your company.
Strong branding gives your product an edge in the game to win customers. Be sure to take time to research and invest in your branding strategy. Branding doesn’t happen over night. Building a brand takes time and is a crucial part of marketing your business towards greater success.
One word of caution: branding is important but it’s not sufficient by itself to bring you the business you want. Unless you have the money to invest in branding like Coca Cola or IBM, a better strategy would be to use your brand to augment your regular sales and marketing activities.
What’s your brand say about you? What would you like it to? Please comment below or email me if I can help you in any way.