As a session host for an upcoming Brighton Chamber event I was recently invited to write a short article for the Brighton Independent, to share some tips for building a winning brand.
Close to twenty pages of initial notes were gradually whittled down to ten succinct points, however the information that didn’t make the cut has spurred me to create a series of blog posts about branding.
So here it is, ‘The what, why and how of branding’, the first of many in a series of new monthly articles on branding.
“An introduction to branding”
What exactly is a brand?
If you have a great name, logo and strong visual identity then you’ll have a great brand, right? Well nearly but not quite. You’ll have a badge. You’ll have something to help people identify your product or services in conversation or by sight, but you’ll be missing a vital part. The part that answers the question ‘’What is this and why should I buy it from you and not from someone else?’
Branding is also your reputation.
Why is branding so important?
Branding is what you say and what you do. It is how you market yourself and what other people think of you. A brand occupies a corner of someone’s mind.
Good branding can help you win and keep customers. Good branding can help attract the right employees or investors. It can even help engage communities and bring about positive change.
How do you build a strong brand?
There are many great books and articles out there to read on branding. Some have a strong design focus and some are heavier on the marketing side. Having had experience working in both of these areas I have created my top 11 tips for marketing your business and developing a successful branding program.
1. Get your product and service right
Try to beat the competition from day one by offering something meaningful to others that truly differentiate you from the competition. If you don’t deliver what people actually need or deliver what you promise, no amount of promotion will build a strong brand.
2. Keep it simple
Too much choice is overwhelming and dilutes the power of your message and your brand. People are attracted to specialist because they presume the quality will be higher, so aim to be known for being the best at one thing and then focus on marketing that one thing to the people who need it the most.
3. Pick a brand name that stands out
Most marketing is still by word of mouth so try to have a name that stands out in a sentence and try to keep it short to one or two words i.e. ‘Vimeo’ is a much better brand name than the more generic ‘Videos Online’. Also check the name isn’t used elsewhere before investing in design – just because you buy the domain name doesn’t mean you own the brand name. Consider trade marking.
4. Know your customers likes and dislikes
Personality is the mysterious force that attracts us to certain people and repels us from others. Start off by knowing your customer personas (archetype customer that represents a group type). What are their likes and dislikes? What characteristics do they like to be associated with? How do they like to be addressed, formally or in a really laid back and friendly manner?
Understand your customers first before investing in a professional logo and brand identity and pick someone who can demonstrate an understanding of how colour, image, tone of voice and other characteristic all influence our decision making process. The aim is to look successful and attractive to your specific market. Design is your silent brand ambassador, it should be opening doors for you and not closing them.
5. Be consistent and professional
Invoices, headed paper, email signatures etc. everything that is customer facing should look professional and have the same logo and general feel to it. Inconsistency at best suggests laziness at worst suggests amateur, both attributes that might compromise the integrity of your brand.
6. Add oomph where there was on, and on, and on
Today people seem to have less and less time so try to sell benefits through great content such as photography, case studies/storytelling, testimonials and visuals like info graphics. Visuals stick in people’s minds and help build that valuable reputation.
For example: A long paragraph about how ceramic hair straightners work is unlikely to grab attention, as quickly as a before and after photo of someone with frizzy hair and then sleek shiny hair. In less than a second the photos says ‘You stand for sleek shiny hair and making them look and feel good’ – sell the dream succinctly!
Investing in quality photography, graphics and videos content will be vital in helping to build your brand – remember too that this type of content is also very shareable on social media channels, as part of your inbound marketing strategy to build your reputation online and direct traffic to your website.
7. Surprise and delight
Everyone knows the phrase ‘under promise and over deliver’ but also think about surprising and delighting people. Being happy is addictive; it releases dopamine in your brain (in fact it is the same chemical rush as cocaine or falling in love). Go the extra mile with customer service or create a fun and delightful user experience and people will keep coming back for more, and in between will no doubt sing your praises to others.
“People don’t buy what you do.
They buy the difference you make in their life”
- Simon Sinek -
8. Network, Network, Network
Engage with your customers on and offline, get to know people in your community and industry. Contribute and get involved. Word of mouth is still the best way of building your brand and its reputation, people prefer to get recommendations from people they know, this now extends to the internet, hence the power of review sites and social media.
9. Publicity, publicity, publicity
Befriend the press by helping them fill their pages with interesting stories, tips and case studies! Befriend bloggers and do the same! Run campaigns and offers to attract people to try your brand or come to your event. Establish a reputation for being helpful and people will help you… it’s called karma!
People have launched successful brands with little or hardly any paid advertising; some have had big budgets for advertising and not done any publicity, and have flopped as a result! Adverts to notify people of up and coming events and offers can be used to attract new business. Opinion makers talking about your brand in the press, online or in person is what will build trust and build your reputation. The general rule of thumb is that publicity builds brands and advertising maintains brands. Use your budget wisely.
10. Make happiness a part of your culture
Everyone in your company is a brand ambassador. You can hear when someone is smiling on the phone and in the age of the internet people know when employees love, hate or are indifferent to the brand.
Make it part of the recruitment process that you hire people who share the ideals and values as you, the founder of the business. You want your employees behind the values of your brand from the very start. Make time for your staff to ensure that they feel that their contributions to the business is appreciated, they really are the back bone of your business, and your success.
11. The art of ‘Thank You’
Make an effort to say thank you to people who praise you but also say thank you to those who criticise you. Make listening to feedback and learning from your customers and staff your company culture from day one, it will help you to constantly deliver excellence. Involve people in your journey and show thanks for how they have helped you to deliver excellence, it will win you loyal fans and set people on the path to falling in love with your brand.
With branding don’t expect overnight success. Reputations take time to build. Whilst you’re in the thick of it you often won’t be able to see the woods for the trees… so occasionally take a step back, and have a look where you were a few years ago. Reward yourself (and those who have helped you) for how far you have come and carry on staying true to your brand values – and keep following the dream!
19TH MARCH 2015 I will be exploring all this in more detail in the up coming Ride the Wave session for the Brighton Chamber. The session will be adapted to have a strong focus on the unique needs of the Social Enterprise. For more information on this session and other events visit www.businessinbrighton.org.uk/events
COMING SOON! MARCH - How colour, image, tone of voice and other characteristic all influence our decision making process. APRIL - Adding oomph in communications.