Your brand is a perception. It’s the image that people get when they think of your company. If your business was a human, your brand would be the sum total of its knowledge and personality. Branding is what sets your business apart from other businesses that also do whatever it is that you do.
If you have an effective branding strategy you can:
- Stand out among your competitors
- Build strong relationships with your customers
- Establish a powerful reputation
The challenge is creating your brand identity, then broadcasting it to the world. Fortunately, the tips here should help you get started with a brand strategy that makes your business stand out.
Know Your Audience
Of course, you want your brand to connect with your target audience. That can’t happen unless you really understand your target audience. To do so, you’ll need to create an audience persona. Basically, these are character sketches of the various types of people who will be interested in your products or services.
Think of each persona as a person. How old are they? Where do they live? What are their hobbies? Do they have traditional values, or are they more progressive? What concerns them and motivates them? Where do they spend time online and off?
Develop a Brand Story
What motivated you to go into business? What is your founding story? How did you pair up with your business partners? What keeps you passionate? What problem were you trying to solve when you got your start? How are you helping your customers?
The answers to these questions and others will lead you to the development of your own brand story. This story will help you to stand out, and it will give your audience a way to connect with you.
Create a Mission Statement
Every successful brand does something beyond simply offering their products or services. For example, Taco Bell doesn’t just sell Mexican fast food. Instead, their mission statement begins, “We take pride in making the best Mexican style fast food providing fast, friendly, & accurate service…”
Make Your Company Stand Out With Brand Positioning
Unless you are truly alone in your industry, you’ll need a way to make your company stand out. That’s what positioning is all about. You have to identify the features that differentiate you from your competitors in a good way. To establish your position, you should:
- Pick an area of focus – It’s much easier to stand out if you specialize in some way.
- Have a clear point of view – You should have strong opinions about whatever it is that you don’t. After all, how can you be the best at something, if you’re wishy-washy about what the best is, or what it is not? Know the values of your target audience and reflect that in your POV.
- Be unique – There must be something about your products or the way that you offer your services that is different than your competitors’. Otherwise, you’ll just blend in with everyone else.
Know The Image You Want to Present Then Work on Establishing That
This is the magic combination of visuals, personality, and emotional associations that make up the sum total of your branding. This is your brand image. When you instantly recognize a company’s logo, tag line, jingle, or spokesperson, that’s the result of effective brand imaging. If you associate a certain personality or ‘attitude’ with a brand, that’s also part of their efforts to build an image.
Here are some of the more common visual features of a brand’s image:
- Color Schemes – Choose a color palette that works for your brand and stick to it. This increases ease of recognition.
- Logo – A well-designed logo is often the first thing people will notice and remember about your brand.
- Typography – People notice typography now more than ever. Choose one that fits your brand, and it will enhance the overall attractiveness of your online presence.
- Other Digital Assets – These are the photographs, videos, and other images that become associated with your brand. All of these should be carefully selected so they enhance your branding efforts.
Your ‘look’ is only part of the picture. Your brand image includes the impressions and emotional associations people develop as well. This includes:
- Personality – If your brand was a person would it be young or old? Serious natured or a bit of a clown? Traditional or progressive? How would it dress? If it could speak, how would it express itself?
- Values – Obviously offering the best version of your products and services are going to be part of your values, but the most successful brands think beyond that. For example, Southwest Airlines’ values include, ‘Friendly Customer Service’, ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously’, ‘Have fun’, and ‘Enjoy your work’. Most people who have flown with them have probably seen these values expressed in the ways that their flight crew members interact with passengers. Your values can also be reflected in the causes you support, and the ways that you interact with your community.
Prioritize Consistent Communication
Once you’ve established your brand’s look, personality, values, point of view, and focus you have to communicate these things to your customers. This communication happens in every channel through which you engage with your audience. This includes your website, your customer service center, your brick and mortar locations, your blog, your advertising, and your social media channels. You must be sure that your branding is consistently reflected in all of these.
To help with this, you can establish some content standards. This can include rules and guidelines about the general tone of your content, where you will post content, the digital assets you’ll use, how often you’ll post content, etc. Many organizations choose to work with content writing services to ensure that they publish relevant content on a consistent basis, and that their content meets the highest standards. You can review the top writing services before making a final choice.
Track Your Results
Ultimately, the best way to know whether or not your branding efforts are working as intended is to check with your audience. If they’re perceiving your business the way you want, then you’re on the right track. If not, something’s going wrong. There are a few things you can do to track this:
- Search out reviews of your company and products
- Review customer support tickets
- Speak with your customer-facing employees
- Pay attention to the engagement you’re getting on social (or lack of it)
- Review your website and social media analytics reports
- Set Google Alerts for your company name and other relevant keywords to stay on top of brand mentions
- Use polls and other instruments to solicit customer feedback
Remember that branding is rarely ‘one and done’. You will almost certainly have to revisit things and make changes.
Without a solid branding effort, most businesses simply fade into the background. That doesn’t have to be the case for your company. You can build a brand identity that truly makes you stand apart. It all starts with the tips listed here.