Branding – no doubt the word conjures up certain images. An apple with a bite out of it, the Golden Arches and the Loki Cola font letters that make up the name of the world’s most popular soft drink all spring to mind.
Big brands have a lot of money to spend on their branding. They can hire teams of branding experts and designers who create an image, spending weeks mulling over tiny variations in shades, font colours, imagery and how it can be used. They will put together brand guideline manuals with precise and detailed instruction on how to use the branding – and, just as importantly, how not to use it.
For smaller or medium enterprises without the budget (or time to read a 140-page manual on brand guidelines) what lessons can be learned? What’s worth doing and what isn’t?
In this era of over-saturation of marketing messages, branding is more important than ever before. It’s what will make you stand out in that ever increasing crowded marketplace. So how can you help customers recognise you and know what you stand for and what you do?
You might well have your logo and a definition of what you do. But you’ll need more than this to create your brand. Here’s the low down on what you need to do today:
This helps to establish what is behind your brand.
That sentence sounds more pompous than it actually is. But if you are a good employer and you offer a great service or product, then making brand ambassadors out of your employees will be easy.
Your employees are often the ones doing frontline work and they will be knowledgeable about your product and business. They will know all that your business stands for, its values and what it can provide and that will come across in their dealings with your customers. So keep them motivated, engaged and informed.
Take advice about how, where and when you display your branding. Where you are seen can often be as important (sometimes more so) than what you display, so take care when choosing your advertising mediums or event venues, perception is everything.
You also need to pay attention to small details, such as the paper you use to print your marketing collateral on, or even the vehicle you signwrite and go to meetings in – all of these things can have a huge impact to your brand. For example, if you’re an environmentally conscious brand, then you might want to use recycled paper, or an electric car to help support your key messages.
A well designed website, great content and regular social media updates are crucial to any modern business – as is the clarity of your messaging. Your website visitors will judge your business in seconds, so make sure you grab their attention quickly, by having a ‘sticky’ website. This can be achieved effectively through prominent key messaging and the right imagery. Not sure what’s working well? Check your website analytics.
All online and offline communication should remember all of the points above. What is my business? What does it stand for, what are its values and what makes it unique – this the information you must portray at all times.