Your brand is not your logo – it is so much more than that!
Your brand is what makes you stand out from the competition. Your customers are loyal to your brand because it represents what your business means to them. Your brand is part promise, part standard, and all about your success.
If you haven’t done any work on your brand and think you don’t have one – think again! If you haven’t carefully created a brand, your customers have made one up for you. They see the way you behave, they watch your customer service, they look at your fonts and look, your marketing and your business standards, and what they perceived has become your brand. If you want to be in control of how you are seen and what your business means to customers, then you need to work on your visible brand now.
If you want to develop your brand there are 6 steps:-
- Clarify your vision, mission and values
- Decide how that vision should be seen publicly
- Create a brand language and message
- Design graphics and logos that are sympathetic to your message
- Ensure your brand promise is backed up by your product or service
- Develop a marketing strategy
First clarify your vision, mission and values.
What are the standards that you are offering your customers?
Start with describing your vision for your business. What does it look like when you have attained your vision? Ask yourself and then describe what it looks like to your customers, what it will be like to work in, what products or services will it provide and how. Your brand should be authentic therefore this description of your vision needs to be attainable.
Move from there to your mission. In attaining your vision for the business, what is it you will do for your customers? Who are they and how will you help them? What outcome will they achieve from doing business with you?
And importantly – why are you different from your competition?
Once you have a clear vision, mission and values, decide how you want this vision to be seen by others.
You want customers to see your brand almost as a person. Decide what product or service they should want because of the issues they are trying to resolve, and decide how this choice will be wanted by them. Use your vision and mission to paint a picture. Is your brand professional and meticulous? Or are you adveturous and leading-edge? Create messages that best show how the brand best represents this feeling.
When you are doing this you need to step into the customers’ shoes. Don’t think like you – think of what they will see, and more importantly what they want to feel when they see it.
Once you have decided on how you will show your brand to the public, create the brand language and the message. If you are professional, meticulous – then talk about experience, skill, academic learning, reliability. If you are the brand of adventure, then talk about being “brand new” and “looking to the future” or how you innovate and explore.
Part of this definition of language will also be about crafting two or three recurring messages that become a recurring theme in your marketing and literature. For example if you are about reliable professionalism then the messages might be about leaving their cares at your door, being thoroughly up to date, and about providing go to woe service.
With the above decided, choose a design theme.
Yes this does include logos, but it also includes a common theme – of colour, font, and graphic style. To be consistent, this has to be used in all your websites, correspondence, brochures, and even offices or uniforms. Involve your employees to brainstorm this stage. You might even want to run a customer survey. If you don’t feel confident about this stage – hire a design consultant. But make sure you brief them with all your work on your vision, mission and values.
Remember, keep it simple. You want you logo and overall look to be easily recognisable, and to convey the message. What’s the Nike logo? A simple swoosh. What does it evoke? Speed, action – just do it.
Now, a brand is nothing more than a promise. So to ensure customer recognition and then loyalty, your business has to back up that promise.
If your vision was honest, you would already be making plans and heading towards attaining the vision. Make sure you have the product or service that is being promised. Be transparent about what they can expect and serve it to them. If you receive complaints, especially those that say you haven’t lived up to expectations – make changes.
Finally, develop a marketing plan that takes advantage of your brand. Get your brand in front of as many target customer eyes as possible. Find marketing activities that put out your brand message, and apply your branding to signage. Have a social media presence – fast the channel to reach the most people fast, but ensure that the exposure uses the same language and branding.
Of course, don’t forget your own website – revamp it if you have to in order to match the branding. Remember, language, logo, font, colours, message, promise. These should all be on the website.
Branding is an important marketing tool. You always want to stay in control of how you are seen by your customers so don’t default to an accepted position or that will become your brand.
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