You’ve probably heard the term ‘branding’ being thrown about in marketing circles, but never completely understood the concept. However, when you own a business ignorance is not bliss.
A brand is not simply a logo and / or catchy name. It is an identity that reflects the character and quality of your business, product, or service – it is a promise to your clientele. To reinforce the story you’re telling, every encounter with your brand needs to consistently communicate what it both offers and stands for.
Tangible brand ‘ambassadors’ include:
- Goods and services
- Your company’s visual and verbal approach
- Marketing materials like websites, business cards, and brochures
Intangible aspects include:
- Company values
- A mission statement
- The way you carry on business
- Customer service
With so many businesses competing for consumer attention, how can you position yourself so that you come immediately to mind whenever someone thinks of a product or service you offer? In other words, how can you make your brand stand out above the noise?
Here are some branding strategies that have stood the test of time. Approached with a little creativity and a lot of persistence, they can work for you too.
Logo and visuals
Logos, company colours, and other visuals are an important part of your brand identity: in some instances, it can mean the difference between a customer choosing your brand or someone else’s.
Visuals are easier to remember when they’re simple. A lack of clutter will draw the customer’s attention to the desired focal point, immediately making the correct impression. Do you run a housecleaning service where the employees wear a recognisable uniform? You can create logos that play off these elements in a way that consumers will remember. In the latter instance, a Google search of ‘bright pink uniforms’ could actually get you business!
Consistent message and calls to action
Calls to action are a core part of your brand. When you ask your customers to do something, is it consistent with what your brand represents? If an architect firm specialising in ‘green’ design asks their clients to consider switching to solar power or practicing water conservation, they are demonstrating a faithfulness to their brand message that will strengthen trust among environmentally-conscious audiences.
The image you project to your customers is a brand element. The smiling and friendly Starbucks baristas are as integral to the company brand as its coffee. If you employ sales staff who spend more time perusing their smartphones than serving customers, that will be your brand, albeit one that you don’t want.
In the digital age, your website and its user interface is part of your brand. If the site’s layout, functionality, and responsiveness are pleasing and effective, it says that you care about a positive user experience. A slow-loading site that displays poorly on mobile devices sends an equally strong message, albeit a negative one.
Once you’ve come up with a brand concept that works for you, share it everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and any forum where your target customer might be found. You will also need business cards that you can distribute freely, as well as a properly branded website and, if applicable, a sign for your store. These tools will attract customers, but the onus is on you to keep them. This is within your power to achieve: when you broadcast your brand values consistently and back it up with superior customer service, you become a trusted name in your chosen marketplace and win loyal customers.