Your brand is more than your logo, your motto, and the colors you choose for your website. It's how you represent yourself. It's how others see you. It's the lens through which you operate. It's your promise to your customers. It's the heart and soul of your business.
Branding isn't just for big corporations. It gives small businesses an edge in a competitive market. A strong brand can do a lot for your company. It can solidify your identity, attract the right fans, and create customer loyalty. Here are a few steps you can take to develop a powerful brand for your business.
Know Your Company: Your brand might be the heart and soul of your business, but your mission statement and core values make up your spine. Before you can develop a brand that works for your company, you have to have a good sense of what you offer, how you provide those things, and what group of people you serve. If these aspects of your business aren't already well-defined, here are a few questions you can ask yourself: What do I have to offer?
- What sets my business apart from my competitors?
- What's the most important thing I strive for with every product or service?
- What aspects of my business really matter to me?
- Who am I serving? How would I describe those people?
- What type of experience do I want my customers to have?
- How will customers benefit from doing business with me?
- What type of work environment do I want to create?
- What type of experience do I want for my employees?
- How am I helping to make my community a better place?
- How am I making a difference?
Develop a Company Personality: Now that you have a better sense of who you are and what you do, you can start to give your company a personality. This personality could be similar to your own personality, but it might not be. Your company personality should take into account your company's values and the people it serves, as well as what's missing from your industry. Think of your industry as a group of friends. Where do you fit in? Are you the know-it-all who strives to educate your customers? Are you the class clown who wants to give your customers a laugh? Are you the passionate type who inspires that passion in others? Maybe you're more laid back and prefer your customers have a relaxed, casual experience. When defining your company personality, it might help to imagine your spokesperson.
Picture someone you know or make someone up. The more you can visualize your company as an individual with thoughts, feelings, and characteristics, the easier creating a powerful brand will be. Keep in mind that just like the personalities you meet in everyday life, they're more appreciated when they're original. Don't try to mimic another company's personality, especially if they're a major brand or another company within your industry. Consumers will catch on and they will not be impressed. Try to hone in on all the unique characteristics that come together (your values, your target market, your customer experience) to make your personality special.
Give Your Company Personality A Voice: Once you've identified a person who represents your company, it's time to give that person a distinct voice. Here are a few questions you may want to consider:
- What type of mood is this person in?
- What level of education do they have?
- What kind of vocabulary do they use?
- What do they like to talk about?
- Do they talk a lot or a little?
- Do they speak loudly or softly?
- What does their voice sound like?
Everything you do from here on out (your website copywriting, your social media updates, your blog articles, your advertising, etc.) should all be expressed through this voice. It's very important that this voice remain consistent across the board. Let's say you've established a company that's known for its wit and sarcasm. That wit and sarcasm is going to be expected everywhere. Imagine your customers' confusion and/or disappointment when they email your company's customer service department and instead of receiving a touch of humor in their reply, they get a highly formalized email that looks like a generic template that could have been sent from any other company.
Now may also be a good time to look at things like your logo, images, color use, and website format. While these components don't define your brand, they're still an important aspect. Your goal is to make all of your visuals to look like they came straight from the desk of your imaginary spokesperson.
At the end of the day, customers want to feel like they know your business well. They want to see you as someone they can count on. They want to be a part of the community you've created. Having inconsistencies in your voice (written or visual) can draw in the wrong market, push the right market away, confuse customers, and weaken your brand overall.
Establish A Good Name For Yourself: Most people have had the experience of being drawn to someone's personality for one reason or another, only for interactions with that person to demonstrate they aren't worth the time. The same holds true for your company's personality. You could have an intriguing brand that loops customers in, but you'll never create customer loyalty if you're not providing a positive overall experience. It's crucial that you pair your strong brand with an equally strong, if not stronger, reputation. You can do this by being fair with your pricing, responding to inquiries, giving great customer service, providing products and services in a timely manner, making quality a top priority, and being reliable. Caring for your customers like the people that they are is the biggest branding statement you can make, and regardless of what type of brand you have, it will always be appreciated.