“Oh, it’s my logo.” I hear this all the time when I ask a business to tell me their brand story. While a logo is an important part of your brand identity, it isn’t your brand. Poor branding causes many businesses to fail, as customers can be confused about what you do or how you do it doesn’t match their customer experience. Your brand should promote your business, connect with your customers and differentiate you from your competitors.
As stated by Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos in his famous quote, “your brand is what people say about you when you aren’t in the room.” This basically means that how you make people feel is more important than what you sell. It’s your reputation.
Brand identity is the way you want customers to perceive your business. It focuses on your logo, tagline, language/tone and aesthetic style.
Brand image is the ways customers actually perceive your business. It focuses on reputation, emotion, impression and belief.
Good branding brings identity and image together.
When customers feel they share the same values as a brand, they become loyal and encourage their family and friends to support it. This leads to higher sales and can even protect your pricing as customers are willing to pay more to support their favourite brands. Just look at Apple, Nike, Lululemon or even Starbucks. I fully admit to spending six dollars on coffee mainly as I know no matter where I am in the world, I will get the Starbucks quality and experience.
Customers aren’t always rational; emotion plays a large part in buying decisions.
Even as a solopreneur I have a solid brand strategy as I work with designers, photographers, videographers, etc. and if I can’t articulate what my brand is, how will I get the best work from them? My website, headshots, social presence and all marketing materials reflect my brand. As I am the product (and service provider), prospective clients can determine who I am, my work style and my why based completely on my brand presence. This makes it easier to determine if I would be a good fit for their project.
Creating a brand strategy
- What is your purpose? This is the first question to ask when developing a brand strategy. This is basically why you do what you do. Why do you wake up every morning and head to your office or store? Is it to make money? Or to do something good in the world? What problem are you trying to solve? Whatever the answer, it will become a major part of your brand.
- Brand model. When working with clients who don’t know or understand their brand, I have them work through developing a brand model. A brand model builds a vision, inspires storytelling, builds trust and provides a fresh perspective on your business.
Based on the image below*, fill in the brand model for your business
- Do you have a clear “why we do it”?
- Do you feel that how you want to be described is how your customers describe you? How can you change it?
Providing consistent communication and customer experience is the key to a successful brand. Your brand is you and every employee within your organization. It includes everything you say, post, write, pin, photograph, like, tweet, comment, and do. That is why your employees are your greatest advocates. Ensuring you have the personnel that reflects your brand and providing them the skills and resources to best showcase that brand to customers is imperative.
Branding doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process but will result in long-term relationships with your customers as your customers are your greatest salespeople.
*credit: Simon Sinek “Start with Why” TED Talk 2009