B is for Brand and C is for Consistency
...so, what is a brand or better yet, how do you define branding.
Well, our friend Mr. Webster defines the terms this way --
‘Brand - Noun |’brand\
:a category of products that are all made by a particular company and all have a particular name. :a mark that is burned into the skin of an animal (such as a cow) to show who owns that animal.
Branding - Noun| brand-ing | \’bran-din\
:the promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/branding
First known use of branding was in 1913 and I would venture to say the concept and definition has changed dramaticially since then.
Branding isn’t just about adding your logo; it’s about creating information for a target audience that has a particular purpose and intended outcome. Branding drives awareness but also social interaction, customer engagement and sales. In order for a company to build a broad and diverse base of customers, it has to consistently brand and deliver brand messaging to its target audience. People share, read and engage more with any type of content when it’s seen from a brand or friend they already know and trust.
The ability to evolve, grow and inspire new prospects to engage with your brand is crucial to the growth and strength of any company or organization. It is simple…your brand is your promise to your customer and brand messaging tells them what differentiates you from your competitors as well as what they can expect from the services and products you offer. Your brand is the DNA of who your company is, who people think you are and who you want to be.
Defining Your Brand Sometimes this is easier said than done. First, can you answer these questions?
- Does your company have a mission statement; does it truly represent the mission of your company?
- What are your products or services and how do customers benefit from them?
- What do current customers and prospects think about your company?
- What do you want people to associate with your brand and company?
Do your homework to find out what current and prospective clients need, what are their habits and what are their desires? It is important to do research to get these answers and not just rely on what you think they think. Know your audience.
So you have done your homework – you defined your brand and developed your mission as well as your message, now how do you get the word out?
- Get a great logo. (if 1980 called and wants its logo back, then it is time for a refresh) Be consistent and put it everywhere.
- Know your messaging. What do you want your customers to take away from your brand messaging? Be consistent with your messaging. Employees can be your best PR agents or your worst…make sure they understand your brand attributes and can relay the brand messaging. (don’t expect them to automatically know what the brand messaging is and how to communicate it)
- Integration is key. Branding isn’t just a logo on the letterhead. It should be represented in every aspect of your business—gate keepers answering your phones, your e-mail signature, office décor, what you or your employees wear on sales calls or to community events, everything. Be consistent.
- Do a voice check – ensure the "voice" of your company reflects your brand. Eliminate the white noise and apply the voice to all communications, written, visual imagery and collateral materials both online and off.
- Put a ‘tag’ on it - develop a tagline. Keeping in mind that more is not better unless it is money…a tagline should be concise verbiage that is meaningful, memorable and reflects the true nature and messaging of your brand.
- Create brand standards - Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout all marketing and collateral bearing your brand. Creating simple templates will help ensure every use of your logo remains consistent.
- Be true-blue to your brand – You can build a strong brand, but if you don’t deliver on your brand promise customers won’t be loyal - or more importantly refer you to someone else.
- Be consistent. This is not the first time I have mentioned this! Being consistent is the only way to build brand equity and establish a brand.
Building a strong personal or business brand takes time and consistency. With so much white noise and competition for their attention, building relationships with your target audience has never been more challenging. Keep things simple. People don’t have the time to figure out what your brand is trying to solve or how it can benefit them. The most successful brands and branding campaigns never suffer from an identity crisis.