Branding. One of the most important things you can do in business is to build a strong brand. You want current and potential customers thinking about you as often as possible…..in a good way.
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- Your customers always come first. Thomas Watson, IBM’s second chairman once said “Nothing happens until somebody sells something”. Your customers come first in anything you do. You need to know who they are, what they read, where they go and how they think. Why would they even be looking at your products or services? Match up their needs with your offering.
- Give your brand personality. When you take a long hard look at the way your business “is”, most times you can categorise a personality around it. This personality plays a big part in how your company is seen by your customers. It is vitally important that the personality remains consistent, constantly reinforcing your brand’s values. People buy from people…..but they can be attracted by other things – look and feel, tone of voice and other less obvious things such as professionalism or a rebellious streak.
- Be authentic. A common technique brands use to get noticed is to use surveys, give-aways, contests or other gimmicks. Whilst this may generate interest, it is not setting your brand apart or identifying with the nice you are trying to exploit. It is important to ensure that during the engagement cycle of these stunts, your brand shines out and that you bring customers into the idea of why they should buy from you.
- Positioning. The way you ‘position’ yourself in the market will determine how customers think about your company in relation to your competitors – are you price lead or quality driven? Whatever your chosen path, this should be reflected in your marketing copy, images and materials.
- Keep it simple. Keep names and straplines short, simple and consistent. Once chosen, use the company name and strapline in every possible means of communication to ensure future recognition and brand association.
- Involve all staff. Your greatest ambassadors or your biggest weakness – how you involve your staff in branding will determine how much they can help reinforce that brand. Keep them updated, encourage involvement and ensure a united front for the business. A cohesive staff team will appear extremely professional and trustworthy to potential customers.
- Develop a brand planCareful management of a brand on an ongoing basis will ensure the brand remains strong, clear and unaffected by outside influences. Form a plan to maintain brand values and ensure any changes are made in line with brand values.
- Consistency. A simple set of guidelines will ensure that everyone (internally and externally) can apply your brand in a consistent manner. This is crucial to ensure your potential customers develop a familiarity with, and trust of, your brand.
- Different media. Keep a close eye on the use of your brand guidelines across different media such as newspapers, radio, print, website, social media and email marketing. Size, colour and positioning of your logo is essential and the correct use of these should be ensured at all times.
- Review. Make sure all occurrences of incorrect branding are tackled as they arise and the correct guidelines are understood for the future; nipping such problems in the bud will avoid long-term damage.
- Involve the professionals. While it’s tempting to enter into a spot of DIY branding this is often not a good idea and can be costly in terms of time and money to address at a later date. You may seek to employ a professional creative agency to help establish the future brand security of your company.