Who’s Minding the Brand?
Branding is a word commonly referred to by advertisers and marketers. What does it actually mean? How can you get it? More importantly, how will it benefit your business?
In the battle for business, companies, big and small, are fighting more than ever to deliver their message. As companies launch all kinds of advertising and marketing campaigns to attract consumers, it becomes more difficult for one message to stand out. Add to that, the increasing cost of marketing a new product or service, and it becomes critical for a company to come up with an efficient strategy to promote its business.
There are many different definitions of a brand. The most effective definition is that a brand is a name or symbol that is commonly known to identify a company or its products and one that separates them from the competition.
A brand is a company’s face to the world. It is the company’s name, how that name is visually expressed through a logo, and how that name and logo are extended throughout an organization’s communications. A brand is also how the company is perceived by its customers – the associations and inherent value they place on your business.
A brand is a kind of promise. It is a set of fundamental principles as understood by anyone who comes into contact with a company. A brand is an organization’s reason for being and how that reason is expressed through its various communications media to its key audiences, including customers, shareholders, employees and analysts. A brand can also describe these same attributes for a company’s products, services, and initiatives.
The overall ‘branding’ of a company or product can stretch to a logo, symbol, and design features (such as fonts and colours, illustrations – The Apple logo is a great example) that identify the company and its products and achieves that immediate connection.
A good logo design should be your starting point for developing a firm footing for the brand development of your business, but it shouldn’t stop there. Good quality brand development, and your logo design itself as the icon behind the branding, will give you the competitive edge.
Growing your brand doesn’t need to eat into your budget!
Despite the fact that most small businesses and non-profits may not have sufficient financial resources for branding campaigns, there are other options available to help them develop a high quality brand and, in turn, benefit from the perception of the value of that brand. Here are some basic tips to create brand awareness for less:
Company logo : Would you choose Bing or Google as your preferred search engine based on their logo? Probably not, but having a nice professional logo would certainly help direct attention to your business or as the “go to” site, and click with your target audience almost immediately. That’s why it’s important to carry your company logo on every piece of marketing collateral, from business stationery to POS materials, ads, newsletters, signages, etc.
Make it work! : These days, it is not cool to just have a website – you have to make it work for you. Your website must reflect your brand image. If you’re known for your creative skills, then your website should reflect the same. If you put your name out there or if someone recommends you, your potential customers are bound to tap your website as the first tool of reference. And if they like what they see – then that’s half the battle won! Your website design and content (history, clients, expansion) should be updated at least every two years to stay current and hold interest.
Get On-board : Social media can grow your business and enhance its visibility on multiple levels. Offering valuable content on a regular basis via blogs will position you as an expert in your respective business field. The use of tags will help to make basic search engine optimization easy. When you think about it, blogs, twitter and facebook are great platforms for conversation. By facilitating a two-way dialog, social media is proving to be much more valuable than dumping your collaterals on customers – which more often than not, end up getting binned! So get smart!
Get noticed : You can also launch a direct mail or email campaign, sponsor a charity event, or highlight awards or recognition. These are just some ways to get noticed. You’ll have to find the best combination to meet your strategic goals. A one-off effort will not work; you need to expose your brand more than five times to get noticed or you’ll just be wasting your time and dollars.
The KISS principle : Develop a simple one-page corporate flyer that you can leave with potential client(s) after a meeting. Keep it simple with short sentences and paragraphs that allow for a quick read. An eye-catching design and layout will go a long way in capturing the mindshare. The one-page overview should include your value proposition, target client benefits, previous experience and success. Don’t forget to include your contact information!
Generalist or Specialist? : People are quick to relate to something they can understand and appreciate. Don’t try to promote yourself as a Jack-Of-All-Trades. For instance, if you are graphic artist, don’t try and sell yourself as a photographer or you’ll risk confusion and attract no one. If you’re a specialist in a niche area, you are likely to be seen as an expert in the field. At the end of the day, people are always seeking experts, not generalists – a good thing to remember!
For sure, there are other ways to become successful in any business endeavour but there is nothing more certain than having a recognizable, appealing and unique brand that customers and clients can easily associate themselves with. The importance of having a brand is the key to having a successful business.