Developing Your Brande
After coming up with a brilliant idea and going through the legal motions to set your business up, you are left at ground zero with high hopes and aspirations. It’s time to let people know about your product or service. When potential customers hear the name of your business, what will they think and feel? This is the purpose of branding—it gives your business a personality for people to relate to.
What is a Brand?
A brand is a name, sign, symbol or design that conveys an identity. It is the distinctive characteristic of a company. When competing with direct competition, it is the brand that tips the scale and woos the customers. An effective brand will portray a sense of credibility and will create customer loyalty.
Take McDonald’s for instance. How many of us think of their golden arches with fondness? When you see that symbol, do you automatically sing “I’m lovin’ it” in your head? Regardless of how society feels about the nutritional value of fast food, everyone knows the McDonald’s brand.
The good news is that a brand can be built, and it will grow over time!
Develop a Mission Statement
To begin building a brand, start with a concise mission statement. Going forward, the mission statement is something that is going to give you perspective on your business. It should be the one constant that you can look to when needing to remember why you’re in the business that you’re in, and what makes it special.
While some people have a natural ability to design, most of us need outside help to create a quality logo. That is where a graphic designer comes into play. Since a logo is a brand’s most prominent identifier, it’s worth paying for quality. That being said, there are plenty of graphic design students who are equipped with the knowledge and tools to offer quality work, but may be more reasonably priced while they’re working on building a portfolio.
Discuss the product/service with the designer and make sure that they offer no less than three revisions.
It’s not absolutely necessary to create a slogan to go along with your logo, but it doesn’t hurt. Referring back to McDonald’s, the slogan “I’m lovin’ it” helped to revamp the brand after the 2004 documentary “Super Size Me” had hundreds of thousands of Americans turning away from their food. They needed a new image to go along with their famous arches. Slogans supplement a brand’s image.
Use Social Media
The best way to introduce your brand and to get honest feedback in a natural setting is to venture into social media. Social media allows for user-generated content, which will help in a business’ word of mouth campaigning. The internet provides you with countless networking opportunities and should be taken full advantage of.
Sign up with the most popular social media sites first:
- • YouTube
If you find that you’re not entirely comfortable with setting up social media sites, there are many freelance social media experts that can be hired for a reasonable fee.
Every successful brand has one quality in common: trustworthiness. How do you get the public to trust you, though? If they have not sampled your product or service, is there a way to draw their attention and entice them to take a chance on you? Yes!
Once you have been set up with social media sites, you have a platform to “show vs. tell”. Give the public a look behind the curtain and show them that your company is run by real people who are just like them. Use descriptive words when posting updates in order to paint a picture. Most importantly, ask the followers of your social media sites for their input. When a company talks to potential customers, rather than talks at them, it proves that the company respects the individual people who give them their money.
Blogging is another way to use social media and transparency to a company’s benefit. Think of it as a company diary. A blog gives an in-depth look at the goings-on of a company. Daily posts can not only highlight important events such as sales, but can drive extra traffic to the main website and accompanying social media sites.
How to Know if Your Branding is Effective
Inside the box– Look at the numbers. Are sales steadily increasing? Are site views up? And more importantly, when looking at these statistics, how long are people staying on your sites? Invest in an analytics reporting program to give this data on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. These numbers speak volumes and will point you in the direct of the areas that need extra attention.
*Google Analytics is a free and user-friendly resource.
Outside the box– What are people saying? People include customers, potential customers, and those who oppose your product/service. What are their praises? What are their complaints? More importantly, are they even talking about you?
*Twitter is a magnificent domain for businesses to create and maintain relationships. Use hashtags (key word searches) to find out what is being said about your brand.
- Secure business through legal channels
- Create a mission statement
- Come up with a logo and/or slogan
- Create social media profiles
- Start a blog
In time, you will see how each aspect of branding actually helps feed the next. Branding is an ongoing process that, when nurtured properly, will continue to pull customers from competing markets into your business’ realm. People love to have brand pride, and will spread the word once they trust in you.