This article was adapted from The Basics of Branding, by John Williams: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/77408
Understand this critical business term and how to establish your company’s brand.
Branding. You know you need it. Whatever stage of your business’ scaling, you know that branding is one of your highest priorities. You know that from retail to B2B, your edge over increasing competition requires an effective brand strategy. But why? And what is branding?
Well, it’s your promise to your prospect, letting them know what they can expect from your product and service. Your brand sets you apart from your competitors. It’s who you are, who you’re becoming. Crucially, your brand is who — and what — everyone thinks you are.
So who are you? The innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can’t be both, and you can’t be all things to all people. Your brand should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.
Your logo is the foundation of your brand. Your website, packaging and promotional materials should integrate your logo and will thus communicate your brand.
Brand Strategy & Equity
Your brand strategy is everything about communication and delivery of your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy, as are your distribution channels and your visual and verbal communication.
Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, the added value brought to your company’s products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, so customers will pay more for its product.
Perceived quality or emotional attachment often adds intrinsic value to brand equity. For example, Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, the successful famous-athlete-attachment branding strategy sells the shoe more than the shoe’s features do.
Defining Your Brand
Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. You definitely need to answer these questions:
- What is your company’s mission?
- What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
- What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don’t rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.
Defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, so consider leveraging our expertise at Concept2Completion.
Once you’ve defined your brand, how do you get the word out? Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:
- Get a great logo. Place it everywhere.
- Write down your brand messaging. What key messages do you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should know your brand’s attributes.
- Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business — how you answer your phones, clothing worn on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.
- Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist.
- Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
- Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy; you do need to be consistent.
- Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you — or refer you to someone else — if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.
- Be consistent. This point involves all of the above and is the most important tip of all. If you can’t be consistent, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.
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