THE BASICS OF BUSINESS BRANDING
Branding can be a tricky and generally ominous topic for many new business owners who are contemplating having an identity created for their company. Below are some helpful pointers for things you need to consider when having your Brand Identity designed.
Who are you…
Begin by taking a close look at your business and why it exists in the marketplace. What is the story behind your company’s emergence? What or who does your product or service benefit and how can these benefits be expressed within your brand image?
Think carefully about your Brand Name…
Brand or business name can be deliberated over for what seems like an eternity, where as in some cases it’s something that needs a quick decision and can be easily settled on. Either way, try to pick a name that will inspire, can be easily remembered (and spelt!) and also mean something to the people that will be looking for your services.
Remember that changing your business name at a later date, although not impossible, can be a complex and costly exercise. Think of your brand name as an extension of what your company offers, and consider how it’s going to sound over the telephone, or work within a web address.
Look at your Brand Image…
Over time, a strong, long-term brand image can work wonders for your business. If you look at some of the largest brands in the world, like Apple, Vodafone or IBM, they all have certain things in common. Using a unique colour palette to that of your competitors, or a ‘mark’ or symbol that can instantly be associated with your company and what it stands for. As well as being professional looking so that the audience take you seriously, this also needs to be consistent over everything you do. Inconsistency will almost certainly confuse your target market, and will not inspire the levels of comfort and trust that every consumer requires to be confident that you are the correct solution for their needs.
Your Brand Logo…
A Brand Logo in the strictest sense identifies who you are. But when combined with the rest of your Brand Identity, all of the elements come together to create a look and feel that communicates on an emotional level. It can tell the story of who you, what your company stands for, and inspire confidence, as well as positioning you as a progressive or traditional business. In the right hands, a brand logo even make your company look bigger if you wish.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BRANDING:
Many small business believe that branding is only for large multi-national corporations. This is far from being true. To help you succeed in the branding of your business, here are some easy tips you can use to grow your brand with your customers.
Below are a list of just a few of the Brand Basics you should adopt to increase sales with a successful brand.
1) Your Logo Design isn't the be-all and end-all
Do you generally choose one product over another because of their logo? Most of the time, the answer is No, so having a nice, professional Logo Design is great, but it very rarely increases sales. Of course, having a professional Logo Design for your company is preferable, but for a small business on a limited budget, it’s not really worth spending a huge amount of time on.
It much more important for your Logo Design to be incorporated on every piece of communication you produce, and for it to be backed up with a strong, consistently applied Brand Identity that fully accentuates your company’s values. This can then be utilised on all of your marketing collateral: business cards, letterheads, envelopes, invoices and quotes, advertisements, signage, newsletters, emails and so on.
2) You must have a Professional Web Site
It’s not good enough to just have a web site. As discussed above, this must reflect your brand image, and be in keeping with your products and services. If you are a modern company, with a host of up-to-date and professional clients, having an out-dated looking site that looks like it was designed by a 12-year-old will not really reflect well on your business.
These days, nearly everyone use the web to check for references or find out more information that will help with a buying decision, so you can almost guarantee that a potential client with a recommendation to use you will go online in search of your business before getting in touch.
3) Blogs are great for Business
Valuable, relevant content, posted on a consistent basis will bolster the impression of you being an expert in your field. Consumers and people looking for a service want an individual or company who know what they’re talking about and instil confidence.
The software that powers a blog on sites such as Wordpress are very easy to use, and have all the tools you will need to make search engine optimisation easy. Alternatively, you could have the blog existing physically on your own web site for a more personal feel, but it’s important to ensure that you have the technology in place for your audience to comment and respond. Interaction and conversation will inevitably help your visitors feel involved and compelled to return.
4) Blogs are just one tool at your disposal
A Blog is a good starting point, but should not be your sole marketing tool. When looking at your marketing strategy, you should have a multi-faceted plan in place. This could include a direct mail campaign or email newsletter strategy, sponsor a local event, exhibit at a trade show, attend a networking event or advertise in a relevant publication. There are literally hundreds of different ways for your business to get noticed and a combination of methods is likely to yield the best results.
5) Prepare a short Company overview
A well branded, well written, corporate overview can be a very impressive sales tool for you to leave behind after a meeting with a prospective client. Whether it’s a one-page sheet, or a small A5 booklet, the idea is to keep it short and concise so that it can be read quickly. It should be conversational in tone, and include your business values, the benefits you can bring to your target audiences you previous experience and perhaps a mini-case-study. Polish it off with a simple call-to-action and easy ways to connect with you: website, email, blog address and social media profiles.
6) Local Networking
Networking is great, but it’s not just about showing up for events and hoping someone takes notice of you. If you want to be more involved, and have a better presence, sometimes it’s as easy as simply asking to be part of the committee. Many of these groups are looking for volunteers to help them, and this will quickly elevate your visibility.
7) Fulfill your promises
Nothing leaves a bad taste quite like missed expectations. If you’re lucky enough to get the chance to impress, make sure you take it. Talk of bad experiences will spread much faster and are much harder to overcome than good ones, which could lead to referrals and the prospect of new business in the future. If you say you’re going to have a proposal ready by a certain day, be sure it is.
8) Don't be a jack of all trades
Consumers will generally latch on to something they can appreciate, and if you’re trying to be everything to everybody, there’s a chance that you’ll actually repel people who are looking for a specific expertise. Remember the power of being seen as an expert, and being fantastic at one thing rather than being average at a bunch of things. This will also mean that you can better position yourself, and inevitably, charge more for your services.
9) Remember, you’re not in control of your brand
Branding is an on-going process which needs to be developed over time. Only through research, marketing and feedback will you figure out what real the impression of your company is like, and be able to align it in accordance with this perception. Your actual brand image is determined by your audience, and only through them will you discover where you’re going right, and more importantly, wrong.
You have to ensure that your corporate marketing materials, your website, you social media presence and your actions are coming together to create the right image. Then you have to Without the correct research and feedback, you’re likely to end up with a very blinkered view of your business brand, and if you’re audience have a different view of you than you’d expected, it’s probably time to bring in some fresh, external help.
10) Branding is also about your people
Many people believe that branding stops once you have a logo and set of stationery in place. These are important elements of the whole puzzle, but your best interactions are generally going to come from conversations between your employees and the customers.
Therefore your branding needs to go a step further than simply presenting a consistent visual identity… it also needs to manifest itself in the way in which your personnel deal with the customer on a day-to-day basis. It's all about managing the thoughts and feelings of your customers to ensure that your business is what they need and desire to succeed in their marketplace.
If you’re a new start-up looking at the branding your company, or are considering the refreshment of an existing brand, please get in touch with PWD Design to find out how we could help you. You could also take a look at our Logo and Branding Portfolio to see the work we have done with other small business like yours.
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