What is your brand?
A strong brand gives you a major competitive edge in your market. But what exactly is a brand?
Your brand is simply your promise, to your customers, to your employees and to the community. It tells each of these groups exactly what they should expect from you, and it differentiates you from your competitors.
Some people will say that your brand is all about your products and services, but it is really so much more. Your brand represents who you are, who you want to be and how your stakeholders perceive you.
For example, do you want to be recognised as an innovator and pioneer, or as more conservative, experienced and reliable? Are your products in the high-cost, high-quality category, or the affordable, high-value category? Are you focused on your employees, your profits or the environment?
These are just some questions you will need to answer in the process of designing, developing and maintaining your brand.
At the centre of your brand is your logo. This symbol will underpin your brand and represent your business, to your customers, the market and the community.
Once your brand and strategy has been designed, you will need to develop the collateral to communicate this to your audience. This collateral will include your website, packaging and promotional materials, social media channels, sponsorships and events.
What is your brand strategy?
Now that we’ve discussed the brand, it’s time to discuss your brand strategy. Your brand strategy defines the how, what, when, where and to whom you will communicate your messages.
Each area must be carefully considered, planned, monitored, evaluated and adjusted throughout the life of your brand. A strong brand strategy, executed well, will result in a huge return on investment by developing brand equity. This brand equity means more customers will approach you to procure your products and services. You will compete more effectively in your market as your customers now relate your products to reliability and quality creating an emotional attachment with your business.
Where do we start?
Developing your brand is a detailed and involved process. It can be challenging and time-consuming, but ultimately rewarding once implemented. As a start point, you should answer the following questions:
1. What is your mission?
2. What sets your products or services apart from your competitors?
3. What does the market think of your company today?
4. What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
Now that you have framed your brand what do you do next? We have developed the following tips to help get you started on the road to brand equity stardom.
1. Design and develop an amazing logo and use it everywhere.
2. Develop your core messaging and plan how you are going to communicate these messages. Start by sharing your core messages with your staff. It is really important that your team embraces your brand attributes from day 1.
3. Create a tone of voice for your brand. Your tone of voice will be applied to all of your communications, formal and informal alike. Are you relaxed and conversational? Technical and informative? Formal and professional?
4. Support your logo with a strong tagline. The most challenging three to seven words you will probably ever write, capturing the essence of your brand.
5. Integrate your brand throughout the business. This may include changing the way the phones are answered, branded shirts, office layout, interior design and administrative collateral.
6. Develop your style guide, including design templates, writing standards, approved colour usage and logo use rules for your communication activities. Consistency is the key to a successful brand.
7. Commit to your brand. Your brand is your promise and you must deliver on that promise.
The brand of your company will evolve over time, but at its core, what you design today will be with you for a very long time. As such, the final tip is probably the most important of all:
Take your time, use the right team and be authentic to develop a sustainable brand that will help you achieve the success you are looking for.