It used to be that brands were the province of large, established companies and organisations, a hard to grasp concept that had something to do with their logo design and business ethos. Nowadays, most start-ups, SMEs and cottage industries are aware of the need for a brand strategy that creates a lasting impression.
What is a brand?
- It’s not just your logo, though that forms a part of your branding.
- Your brand is everything that your company stands for.
- When people see your name or logo they think of X, Y or Z.
For instance, everyone knows the MacDonald’s logo but what does it stand for? Fast, tasty food at a price you can afford? A place where all the family can go? You know what you are going to get when you go into a MacDonald’s because the operational processes across all its stores have been standardised; same uniforms, same menu, even a similar layout of their restaurants.
That’s the MacDonald’s brand.
How to Develop Your Brand
The bad news is that there is even more competition out there with the rise of the internet and the reduced cost of starting up a commercial business. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to develop your brand and get it noticed.
- Have a clearly defined and enforceable brand. If you are committed to excellent customer service or support then make sure you provide it, not every so often, but all the time. If you pride yourself in the innovation of your product then don’t rest on your laurels. If you innovate then innovate.
- Make sure your literature matches. If you use a particular font for your website, use it for your brochures too. If your logo is placed in a certain position, then make sure that stretches across everything. Have an easy to follow strategy for producing marketing goods that staff can refer to when they are producing new promotions.
- Have a distinctive logo that can be incorporated into all of your promotional literature, from corporate holiday ecards to business cards, emails and social media accounts. The logo is the visual representation of your brand and, if you can burn it into the mind of customers you are on your way to creating an enduring reminder of what you are about.
- But…be aware that logos aren’t as important as they used to be. It cements your identity but what really consolidates your brand is how you deal with your customers, both online and off. It’s no longer just about simply standing for something, you now have to cultivate your customers with effective and engaging conversation.
- Use social media to build brand ambassadors. Your greatest allies, especially on a limited budget, are the people you engage on social media. If you can get them on your side then they will promote your brand and, here’s the good news, they will largely do it for free – because they like you.
- Be bold, be brave. It’s difficult to find new and innovative ways to build your brand but for start-ups especially it pays to be a little more daring than your competitors and the larger corporations who are usually stacked with bureaucracy.
Creating an enduring and effective brand takes a good deal of work but it’s a vital part of business development if you want to be remembered. It involves bringing numerous strands together that work in harmony and begins with knowing what you stand for and should end with a business that has a solid reputation and more than a few hard-core followers.