Your brand is one or your business’ most powerful assets when it comes to sales whether your business is small, large, local, national, international, business-to-consumer, business-to-business, brick and mortar, or online. A strong brand can give your business a competitive edge that is hard to beat. However, before you can develop a powerful brand, you need to understand what a brand actually is and how it can help your business.
To fully understand what a brand is and how to develop a brand, simply review the fundamental elements of the BEST brands provided below and apply them as you create your brand.
B = Basics of Branding
Your brand is a promise to consumers. Your brand creates expectations from consumers for what they’ll get every time they purchase a product or service with your brand tied to it. Your brand also differentiates your product or service from competitors’.
Before you create a brand, you need to determine what you want your brand to promise to consumers, how you want to position it against competitors’, how you want consumers to perceive your brand, and what you want them to expect from your brand. You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to take some time to define what your target audience wants and needs from a business like yours. Then create a brand promise that fills those needs and delivers on customer expectations.
Basics Quick Tip: Your logo design is the foundation of your brand. All of your marketing materials, packaging, signage, social media profiles, websites, promotional materials, ads, and so on should include your logo design to communicate your brand promise again and again.
E = Equity of Your Brand
Brand equity is the added value (which might be intangible) that your brand brings to your business, products and services and allows you to charge more for your brand than similar products in the market can charge. To demonstrate how brand equity can help a brand, consider your own buying habits. Are there certain brands that you’re willing to pay more for rather than choosing a generic alternative? Do you pay more for Tylenol than you would if you bought the generic equivalent?
Brand equity, that added-value, is built over time as consumers’ perceptions of your brand as better than alternatives develop or as their emotional connections to your brand evolve. Emotionally involved consumers are typically loyal consumers, so brand equity translates directly into sales.
Equity Quick Tip: Social media marketing offers an excellent opportunity to build relationships with consumers and cultivate emotional involvement and brand loyalty.
S = Strategy Behind Your Brand
The strategy behind your brand provides the definition of the who, where, when, how, and what of your brand. Specifically, it provides the roadmap for you to follow to communicate and deliver your brand messages. Once you define your brand strategy, you can begin putting together a plan of tactics to get you through that roadmap and arrive at your short-term and long-term destinations (meaning, your goals).
Your brand strategy helps you develop a complete marketing plan with advertising, promotions, distribution channels, and so on as well as specific messages you will communicate visually and verbally to further your business along your strategic roadmap.
Strategy Quick Tip: Remember, strategy first, tactics second.
T = The Definition of Your Brand
What is your brand? Now that you understand the basics of branding, how a brand can add equity to your business, and why you need to develop a clear branding strategy to be successful, it’s time to determine what your brand definition is. This is not a definition that you’re likely to determine in a few minutes, hours, or days. Instead, take time to do your research and evaluate all aspects of your business, industry, competitors, consumers, and so on to ensure you establish a brand definition that will work for the long-term. You should never assume you know what consumers think. You need to know what they think, so go out there and ask them.
To get started in defining your brand, ask yourself the following questions:
• What is your company’s mission and vision?
• What are the perceptions of your business that existing and prospective consumers currently have?
• What perceptions of your business do you want consumers to have about your business?
• What benefits does your business offer to consumers?
• How does your business benefit or help consumers better than your competitors do?
The Definition Quick Tip: Consider publishing a question on LinkedIn Answers asking branding experts what they think your brand definition should be. You might get some great advice!
Bring Your Brand to Life
Once you’ve worked through the elements of the BEST Brands for your own brand and have your promise, definition, strategy, and so on established, it’s time to create the visual identity of your brand, a logo, and launch your brand to the world. Following are several steps you can take to jumpstart your brand in order to quickly and effectively bring it to life:
• Create an amazing logo design. Make sure your logo is on everything you produce. There are a lot of places to find great logo ideas that fit your company needs. Look at other competitor logos and get an idea of what is our there for your company logo.
• Create a tagline for your business. A tagline (also called a slogan) is a short phrase or sentence that communicates your brand message and image. It can be used as a companion to your logo or separately, and it helps to remind people what your brand promises, particularly when you’re in the early stages of building brand awareness and recall.
• Create brand identity guidelines, standards, and templates. Your logo and tagline will be used in many ways and in many places. Therefore, it’s essential that you develop clear guidelines so all employees use your logo and other brand identity elements consistently at all times. Your guidelines should include rules about logo placement and colors as well as templates for printing business cards, letterhead, invoices, and other company documents.
• Make sure your brand is integrated into all aspects of your business. Your brand shouldn’t be used only on marketing materials. It should become a part of your business identity. Include it in email signatures, in greetings when employees answer incoming phone calls, and everywhere else you can think of.
• Define the appropriate voice (tone) for your business based on your brand promise. Is your brand highly professional, technical, or friendly? Are you a brand for children, teenagers, business people, women, or another demographic group? The voice and style used in all communications and imagery should match the expectations consumers have for your brand.
• Share your brand messages. Start to create internal brand advocates by ensuring your employees fully understand your brand messages and begin spreading those messages outside your company on your marketing materials, website, blog, Twitter profile, Facebook page, and so on.
• Deliver on your brand promise. If you don’t deliver on what your brand promises to consumer, they won’t come back. They also won’t tell anyone else about your business, or worse, they’ll tell other people not to do business with you. Don’t let that happen.
• ALWAYS be consistent. This is the most important aspect of the best brands and all powerful brands. They are always consistent in message, image, voice, and look, and they consistently deliver on their brand promises. If you’re not consistent, you’ll undo all the work you’ve done to create your brand. Consistency is critical to brand success.