You have a brand new idea for a small business and the funds to start it off right. Good for you! The next step is to cultivate your brand from which all other decisions will flow. Brand consistency, brand identity, and brand persona or personality are all terms we hear being thrown around, but what does all of it really mean?
Simply put, you devise your brand based on the answer to one question – who are you? When you know this, you can begin to put the answer into action.
Of course, branding is more than just a name, logo, and catchy slogan. Your brand identity is really all about customer perception. You can cultivate a positive image of your company in people’s minds by answering the following questions. Ask yourself…
What Do You Do?
Really give your product or service some thought. Why did you develop it? Was it because you feel that you are very crafty or skilled in your trade? Was it because you wanted to help people? Was it because you saw a need?
Figuring out the motivation behind your product or service can help you to determine its value and express that to others.
Who Are You Talking To?
Say you offer the softest and most ooey-gooey cookies on the market. They’re an everyman kind of treat, and your grandmother would have been proud. That’s wonderful, but who’s buying them? Are they cookies for kids? Are they an indulgent treat for busy moms? Are they a sinful, romantic sort of cookie?
Determining your audience delineates everything else about what you’ll do and how to do it. You wouldn’t put lace and pearls on a package for a punk rock superstar, and you wouldn’t put leather and studs on one for a pretty little girl with pigtails.
Stereotypes aside, your ideal market has a set of preferences that your brand would be wise to adhere to.
What Are You Shooting For?
Is your product or service innovative in its field, or do you merely offer a cheaper, easier, more luxurious, faster, smarter, prettier way of doing something that’s already being done by others?
If your brand really were a person, how would it interact with the people you are speaking to? Perhaps your brand aims to educate the world on a given topic, or it wants to entertain, help, or simplify. Does your brand add ease or excitement to the world?
Choose the criteria that most closely apply to your product or service, and the message will travel further along.
What Do You Believe In?
Everyone is taking a stand for or against something, even if it’s only against body odor or a call for quality plumbing services. What is your brand all about?
If your brand could donate $1 million to support any cause, what would it be? How does your brand handle big issues that surface in the news (or does it)? Does your brand avoid conflict or fight for causes that matter?
Exposing Your Brand
Once you answer the big questions and figure out who you are, what you do, who you’re talking to, what you’re trying to do in the world, and why it matters, you can begin to work on letting other people know. There are three primary styles of communication – the 3 Cs – that govern brand deployment:
The 3 Cs of Brand Deployment
Get the word out. Send an email blast to every list of generated leads you can. Start your social media profiles off right and spread the word there daily.
Blog continually and begin to follow other companies and individuals who are like-minded or interested in companies like yours. Create a video that introduces your brand or product and share it everywhere you can. The idea is to reach people who are reaching people.
It’s essential that any communication going out into the world sounds as though it is being delivered from the same “person” – in other words, your brand persona. Whether it’s a Twitter post or a billboard, your communication should be spot-on with the tendencies your brand would lean toward.
Your customers want to be able to understand and familiarize with your brand quickly and easily so they can see if you’re something they want to buy into and boast about. Make sure that the color schemes of your website and logo are congruent with your message.
Choose and purchase a domain that represents your brand professionally and effectively.
Once you’ve been noticed and customers are beginning to interact with your company and brand, invite feedback. It’s very useful to know whether your target market is being reached or you need to retarget a bit for an older/younger/different gendered age group or a different location.
Try to ascertain whether the perception you’re trying to create is the one that customers had on their first impression. If not, adjust accordingly.
Creating a consistent brand identity and becoming a household name requires effort. With the right identity and maintained customer engagement, your brand can quickly become notable and widely shared online.
Brand Photo via Shutterstock
“Who Are You Talking To?” is a question that many of my clients struggle to answer quickly when it really needs to be something that you know by heart. It should permeate all your messaging, packaging, marketing, etc.
Most people stop with connective communication. They don’t know that it must be cohesive and collaborative as well. In fact, I think the gem is in collaborative feedback because people are now more engaged with the brand.
A lot of businesses play the numbers game and try to connect with as many customers as possible. But if you’ve established what you stand for, who you are trying to reach, and are collaborative in your marketing efforts, you’re more likely to reach out to those who have the best chance of believing in your brand.
A really handy post on branding, must say!