Branding is one of the more elusive areas of running a business. Companies like Coca-Cola and Apple have a distinct identity which sets them apart, and has certainly served them well! Branding means much more than coming up with a catchy name and an attractive logo. If you want your company to have a strong brand, then you’ll have to work at it. Here are some great tips for your branding.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to stay consistent. Think of any successful brand, and you’ll see that they’ve been pretty consistent with their branding from day one. McDonalds has outlets in 119 countries, and they haven’t changed too much about their brand since the 40s. If you keep changing your slogan or mission statement, your brand is going to be very weak. From your logo design to document management, you need to make sure you stick to one distinct message and tone. This will make your company more memorable, and give you a firm template which you can build on further down the line. Whatever you’re selling, it’s hugely important to decide on the kind of tone you’re going to get across, and stick to it. This in itself can be influenced by a lot of different things, which brings me onto my next point.
Getting to know your customer base is hugely important if you want to have a strong brand. You can’t hope to build a solid brand without knowing who you’re building it for. If you were a construction company, you wouldn’t start work without liaising with the customer. The most important part of reaching your customers effectively is catering to their communication preferences. This means becoming your ideal customer’s best friend. Find out what their interests are, the tone they use to talk with one another, and other businesses they like. This kind of detective work is a sure-fire way to selling your customers something they really want, and not simply guessing at what they want. Once you have a solid, proven profile, you’ll have your customer’s hearts and minds in the palm of your hand. If you’re a little unsure about customer personas, then here’s a useful introduction.
Honesty is another big part of having a strong brand. As I’ve explained, the secret to good branding is your relationship with your customers. If your customers feel like they’re being lied to, then they’re not going to come back for more. Don’t exaggerate your successes, and don’t try to cover up your failures. The latter of these is probably the most important. Recognising and being honest about your company’s weaknesses takes a lot of humility. Sure, there are probably certain things which you wouldn’t want your customers to know about. However, if you put your cards on the table, it won’t go unappreciated. Businesses, especially large ones, are often seen as some ominous, faceless entity. In this age of social media and whistle blowers, it’s more important than ever to show customers that your brand is made up of people. You should really put a lot of emphasis on honesty if your big competitors are seen as somewhat shady. In some niches, an honest company can feel like a breath of fresh air, and enjoy a lot of word-of-mouth advertising.
True, a large part of your branding will be centred around conventional marketing tactics. However, you shouldn’t forget your product during all of this. You can put all the money into branding you like. However, if your product doesn’t hold up, your brand is going to be fairly weak. To give your brand a real booster, do everything you can to make your product stand out. You should make it a part of your customer’s lifestyle in any way possible. This is where your customer persona comes in handy! Try and add more functions to it where practical. You should also keep your finger on your industry’s pulse, and establish yourself as a leader in your niche. When you innovate before your customers and competitors see it coming, it will certainly get you noticed! Even if your brand was as big and formidable as Microsoft, a bad product is a bad product. Remember that your brand should be a complement to your actual business, not the elixir of life.
I hope this advice helps you develop a strong and successful brand. Whether you want to be elite and exclusive or fun and accessible, branding is hugely important. If you ignore it, be prepared to deal with the consequences!