When ambitious men and women with limited resources start a business, the focus is usually on ensuring a quality product or service, and acquiring more capital to keep the business running.
What is set aside is the just as important process of branding. A business without a clear identity will not be successful no matter how much money is poured into it, or how good its product or service is. If people do not understand what a certain business is for, how can they trust it enough to give it their hard-earned money?
Proper branding takes care of this issue by communicating what exactly a business’ purpose is to those interested, whether they are potential customers or investors. It can give these important stakeholders a good idea of the company’s products, services, or even ideology. So if the brand is strong and consistent, it can easily inspire loyalty and foster excellence as the standard in the entire business.
Define Your Brand
So how does one go about learning how to brand a business properly? That can be answered by first asking two questions.
- What is the business’ specialty? What must first be understood are the products and/or services that the business offers. It is also important to know whose needs and interests the company is catering to.
- What does the business stand for? The business must have a clear mission that can be accomplished and founded on solid values.
Based on the answers to these questions, the business can then build a consistent identity for itself, and see if that identity jives with that of its target market. From there, the creation of the brand can come easy. It helps to treat the process as if creating a celebrity’s onscreen persona, where he or she knows how to amplify his or her strengths and improve upon his or her weaknesses to get people’s attention.
Here are four important tips to keep in mind:
1. Design a good logo that is easily recognizable and memorable.
First, it is important to distinguish a logo from a brand. The brand is the all-encompassing identity of a business, while the logo is the actual image, picture or symbol that is used to represent the company.
The logo must facilitate easy association and recall, making consumers easily or automatically recognize what company or product the logo represents. It can be a picture, the company’s name in stylized typography, or a mixture of both words and images. While it has to be unique and original, it is advisable to keep the logo simple. Details such as size, shape, color scheme, and typography must also be considered, and all these must combine into a cohesive whole.
2. Write a brand message with strong impact.
Right after the logo comes the message that gives people a bigger and deeper understanding of the business, without bombarding them with too much information. It can be a tagline that accompanies the logo or a slogan that appears in advertisement.
It should echo the mission of the business in a brief but striking manner, whether it is something that is already a reality or something that the business aims to achieve. Like the product or service being offered, it has to be something that stands out from the rest of the competition
3. Be true, and stay true.
Once the brand has been established, the business must continue to unfailingly deliver what it promised. If the core values are manifested in the brand message or logo, the actual business practices must also reflect these.
When a business is faced with a crisis, knowing its identity will help direct it to which stance it has to take. It should also be able to accept responsibility to keep the trust of its customers and investors.
4. Be consistent with your brand.
Once you’ve chosen a brand, stick with it. Inconsistency can cause people to be confused and could get in the way of memory and recall. It is harder to remember an identity that is ever changing.
Advertisements and other marketing campaigns, the products, services, online and other media portals (i.e. websites and social media accounts and pages), the culture of the workplace, and how the business communicates with its market must all be in line with the branding. Even small things such as company letters and letterheads, giveaways and uniforms, among others, must contain the business identity through the logo, tagline or slogan, theme or colors.
Building a brand, from the conceptualization to the execution and maintenance, requires time and consistent effort. No brand can stick into people’s minds overnight. What with the hundreds and thousands of businesses, products and services out there, how can a small business establish its own spot and make a lasting impression?
Thankfully, the emergence of the new media or the Internet solves a lot of problems, even for small businesses. With its wide reach, lower cost and easy accessibility, it almost evens out the battle ground for businesses, including those that can hire marketing professionals to do the job and those that cannot.
Here are a few proven online branding and marketing tips for businesses:
1. Use varied forms of media.
Writing precise and memorable copy is well and good, but it has its limits. Using more visual forms like photos and videos can engage the audience more. Podcasts can deliver in-depth discussion and analysis of the business and its products.
2. Maximize the power of social media.
Facebook, for instance, can be used as the media center for a business. Diverse content such as photos and videos can be shared, and users can leave their comments and feedback regarding products or services. This is an automatic online feedback and customer service mechanism that can also give consumers a sense of community.
Twitter, on the other hand, can be used for disseminating news and updates regarding the business. It also allows cross-posting with Facebook so this should be taken advantage of to create synergy throughout all platforms.
There are many other social networking sites that can be penetrated for online marketing and branding, each with its own special features and mechanisms. Most of them are free to use.
3. Foster relationships through various means.
Partnering with other businesses can expand the audience reached by the product and/or service.
As the audience grows, even more people will be interested in the business due to the phenomenon of social proof. More interest snowballs to more customers.
To prove the power of branding, here are five businesses that thrived because of memorable, engaging and consistent branding in various forms of media.
This delicious chocolate cream-filled cookie brand utilizes Facebook to keep its 19 million fans constantly involved. One of the fun practices in the Page is giving the spotlight to one fan for an entire week if he/she can have an Oreo product displayed in an amusing manner on his/her profile picture.
Using Pinterest, this grocery delivery service brings attention to its entire process through pictures uploaded on the site. The store’s transparency helped foster the customers’ trust, eventually ensuring its lead as the largest American grocery delivery service.
Promos and giveaways are regularly held through Facebook, Twitter and Google+ while handy tutorials are uploaded on YouTube by this online printing company. From vinyl banners to custom business cards, UPrinting manages to provide all printing needs and additional content to thousands of connected users.
The world’s most famous coffee house chain also makes good use of Twitter, stimulating its 1.5 million and more followers with various interesting facts on the many kinds of coffee throughout the world, accompanied by pictures. They also promote discussion by asking followers their opinions.
Google+ is where this international clothing company makes its fashion statements. More than 500,000 users who have “circled” the brand get access to fashion tips and news as to the latest styles. It is consistent with daily picks of the hottest attires, and it lets its fans speak their minds on what they find fashionable.
The path to success for businesses is directed by branding and the subsequent marketing, but these require a complete understanding of the business’ identity. Once this has been made clear, it can create a loyal following that could very well expand at an exponential rate.
With a concise and consistent message delivered in multiple fronts through honesty and familiarity, the brand can take a life of its own in people’s minds, equating something as simple as a logo to incredibly diverse and ultimately beneficial products and services.
Image © N-Media-Images – Fotolia.com