1. Discover what your brand should actually look like.
Notice that I said ‘discover’ your brand – not create it? You’ll discover your brand attributes through examining your offer, your mission and your culture – don’t try and create something that isn’t real. Understanding what differentiates your business from competitors and how you can communicate this to your customers can make a world of difference. You MUST get across your business character and personality in your brand!
And whatever you do – think it through and keep it real. As Richard Branson says, “Too many companies want their brands to reflect some idealised, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character and no public trust.”
2. Put a strategy in place
Not only is a clear strategic position needed to differentiate one brand from another – it’s imperative to have this strategy in writing as your roadmap to follow. Nothing will get you off track faster than NOT having a plan! Having your defined brand in place is required before you even begin marketing/advertising plans – as it becomes the source of what your business will be about, and how it will be perceived.
Your branding strategy should include your brand logo, brand elements, keywords and key messaging, marketing collateral and communication tools – all designed to represent your brand, and reflected in marketing tactics to reach your target audience. This strategy step is one area it might benefit to get some outside Marketing Strategy help!
3. Engage with your audience
Social media is one of the most effective platforms to grow your customer base and engage with your audience. Your audience can become the heart your business by becoming R&D, brand evangelists, and so much more. Another perk of social media is that it becomes the voice of who you are and what your brand stands for. Gone are the days where branding communication went one-way through print ads and paid TV advertisements, now you can let your audience take an active role.
Or as Scott Cook, Founder of Intuit shares “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.”
4. Take yourself out of the brand
Whilst it is important to build your personal brand, you shouldn’t focus too much on yourself. It’s less relatable, can be perceived as irrelevant to customers, and can also muddy the waters of what the brand should look like. This can be a difficult one for small business owners and startups, where the core business idea is their “baby” and they feel a big part of the brand. There’s no reason why your business can’t be reflective of your personal values, but try to remember it’s about the brand, not about you.
Build the brand you need before you build the brand you want – for SMEs, resources are generally limited. When it comes to branding – invest in things you urgently need (logo, website, business card) before you invest in things you want (e.g. promotional pens, branded coasters).
5. Be Consistent – be your brand at all times
As the old saying goes... keep doing what you’ve always done and you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.
So if it's time to take your business to the next level, get in touch with Lisa O'Keeffe at Marketing Eye.