How is your brand working for you? Is it generating the response you want from your customers? Is it carving out a healthy piece of the marketplace? Do you know for sure?
Your brand is the most powerful tool in your toolbox. No matter how good your products or services are, if your brand — the promise you make to your customers and the feelings they have about it — does not inspire confidence, your sales will suffer. Whether you’re a small start-up or an established company looking to enhance or even re-invent your brand, success begins with preparation. The following tips can get you started on the right foot.
Research — The first step in any branding process is to find out as much about your audience as possible. Who are they? What do they buy? What are their priorities? If you have customers already, what are their impressions of your business? Every piece of information will help you build your identity and promotions to resonate with the people you are trying to reach. Do similar research on your competition. What do they do well? Do their brands work? What can you offer that they don’t?
Name your product or company — Call it something memorable and unique. Don’t do the same thing as your competition (consider law firms, for example — can you tell one from another?). If your company is well known in the marketplace, do not change your company name!
Establish key messages — What is your vision? How does it differ from the competition? In today’s cluttered media market, you don’t have anyone’s attention for very long. What clear, unique value can you communicate to your audience in just a few seconds?
Come up with an effective visual identity — A picture is worth a thousand words. Your logo, stationary, business cards, and other collateral are key memory triggers about your brand for your audience. Your image should be visually attractive and it should say something clear about your brand. Use colours. Keep it simple. Take a look at the logos you see every day, from major corporations to the small business on the corner. What do their visuals communicate?
Plan, plan, plan — You’ve done your research, identified your audiences, come up with a clear vision, and built a visual identity to express it. What now? Create a marketing plan to communicate your brand to your audiences. Make your messages consistent, repetitive, and available to your specific target markets.ï¿½
Remember, brands are about feelings. Small investments of time, planning, and thought can help you create positive feelings for your customers about your brand, and positive feelings for you about your bottom line.