While there are a ton of great companies in the Upstate, there are much fewer recognizable brands. Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. But what exactly does “branding” mean, and how does it affect your business?
Your brand tells your potential and current buyers what they can expect from you: Are you the leader in innovation of your industry, or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option?
Although it is not everything, your logo is the foundation of your brand. Your website, packaging, brochures, sales presentation–all of which should be based on your logo and communicate your brand promise to the customer.
Brand Strategy & Equity
Your Brand Strategy is the How, What, Where, When and to Whom you plan on communicating and delivering your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. How much, or how little, you advertise is part of your overall strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.
Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company’s products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products can command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product–and customers will pay that higher price.
Defining Your Brand
Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming, uncomfortable, and it requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:
- What is your company’s mission?
- What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
- What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers, and don’t rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.
Once you’ve defined your brand, how do you get the word out? Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:
Get a great logo. Please, do not try this at home.
Incorporate your brand into everything. Yes, everything. A great brand extends to every aspect of your business from how you answer the phone to what your salespeople wear on the job site. Inevitably, your culture will overtime reflect your brand.
Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and integrated into the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it high-end? Be more formal.
Develop a 15-30 second commercial (Elevator Pitch). Write a repeatable and meaningful statement that articulates the essence of your brand.
Create a brand standard for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t have to be fancy, just consistent.
Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you—or refer you to someone else—if you don’t deliver the promise you made with your brand perception.
Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.
This content was published by Business Black Box, the Upstate’s business magazine, based in Greenville, SC. Any replications or use of this content must be attributed to Black Box or Showcase Publishing.