“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn your reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos
Businesses run every day. If you are not running your business right or if your business is not a brand, it is a commodity. You have to have the right tools to turn your business into something everyone would talk about and not forget.
Branding is a way of identifying your business. It is how your customers recognize and experience your business. A strong brand is more than just a logo. It reflects everything from your customer service style, staff uniforms, business cards and premises to your marketing materials and advertising.
Your brand should reflect what your business stands for and what sets it apart from your competitors - it expresses the qualities, strengths and 'personality' of your business.
Creating a strong brand involves in-depth market research to work out why customers should be attracted to your business. A strong brand will help customers to remember your business and feel greater confidence so that your products or services will suit their needs. Customers tend to be loyal to a brand they trust.
Branding should be considered in the early stages of starting a business – launching a business with a strong brand will give you a greater chance of success.
A strong brand can help your business attract new customers and retain existing ones. If you decide that you need a brand for your business, it should be fully developed before you begin using it in advertising or on marketing material. A brand can give your business direction and a right direction is where it would lead your business to its rightful place.
Here are ten tips on how to implement branding for your business.
1. Start by defining your brand.
Review the product or service your business offers, pinpoint the space in the market it occupies and research the emotive and rational needs and concerns of your customers. Your brand character should promote your business, connect with your customer base and differentiate you in the market.
2. When building your brand, think of it as a person.
Every one of us is an individual whose character is made up of beliefs, values and purposes that define who we are and who we connect with. Our personality determines how we behave in different situations, how we dress and what we say. Of course for people it is both intuitive and rare that you would consider what your own character is. However, when you are building a brand, it is vital to understand the concept.
3. Consider what is driving your business.
What does it believe in? What is its purpose and who are its brand heroes? These things can help establish your emotive brand positioning and inform the identity and character for brand communications.
4. Aim to build long-term relationships with your customers.
Don’t dress up your offering and raise expectations that result in broken promises, create trust with honest branding — be clear who your company is and be true to the values that drive it every day.
5. Speak to your customers with a consistent tone of voice.
It will help reinforce the business’ character and clarify its offering so that customers are aware of exactly what to expect from the product or service.
6. Don't repeat the same message in the same way over and over again.
Alternatively, aim to make your key messages work together to build a coherent identity.
7. Don’t try to mimic the look of chains or big brands.
Try and carve out your own distinctive identity. There is a big consumer trend towards independent establishments, and several chains are in fact trying to mimic an independent expression to capture some of those markets. Independent operators can leverage their status to attract customers who are looking for something more original and authentic, that align with how they feel about themselves.
8. Be innovative, bold and daring – stand for something you believe in.
Big brands are encumbered by large layers of bureaucracy, preventing them from being flexible and reacting to the ever-changing needs of their customers. Those layers of decision-makers can make it hard for them to be daring with their branding.
9. Always consider your branding when communicating with customers.
Don't lose your pride or dilute your brand positioning with indiscriminate discounting. Try offering more, rather than slashing prices. Promotions are an opportunity to reinforce your brand mission.
10. The old way of stamping your logo on everything won't cut it.
The future of branding is fluid and engaging — respect your customers' intelligence by not giving everything away up front. Generate some intrigue and allow them to unearth more about your brand for themselves. This is the way to foster ambassadors who revel in telling other people what they have discovered.