Far too often I hear clients (and prospects) tell us: “If I didn’t have to spend so much time explaining what we do, we could spend more time finding solutions and increase our sales”
We often ask, Do your customers know who you really are and what you fully offer? Do they know what your company stands for? How would you describe your brand? After a long pause, we hear the following: Brand? I like our logo, I don’t want to change it.
Brands are not tangible, such as a logo or a tagline; they are emotional connections created in the hearts and minds of consumers. A clearly defined brand helps a business communicate what it offers to the marketplace in a clear, concise and easy to understand manner.
Good branding means defining the way the product or service of a business resonates in the marketplace. A brand is a promise that any business, small or large, uses as their internal compass to position and importantly differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
Bottom Line: The more effective the branding, the easier it is to sell a product/service or to obtain new clients.
Effective branding should convey the relevant information to clients/customers and prospects without long explanations or extensive research.
How many times have you seen a really impressive and well-designed web site or print material but struggled to understand what the business offers, what it does or why you would want to work with the company? These are the results of poor branding. It creates confusion in the marketplace and makes the selling process that much more difficult (and costly.) Businesses that struggle with poor branding typically have a perception issue in the marketplace. These organizations should look inward to understand the branding they have created. I suspect that these businesses would struggle with describing what they offer in a single sentence.
In closing, put yourself in the shoes of your customers. They are the reason your business exists. They determine if your brand (product or service) has value by their decision to choose you over the competition. Learn how they perceive your offering and find a way to align what you offer with your customer’s needs and expectations.
Many businesses are often focused on delivering their product, dismissing “branding” as a lofty goal best left to large corporations. We often see this in clients who do not understand what a brand is, believing it is something tangible, such as a logo or tagline. Branding is about the customer’s perception of your business. You already have a brand, whether you realize it or not; you just might not be in control of it.
The danger of not having control of your brand is that others — possibly your competitors — can dictate its direction. This puts you at a market disadvantage and makes it harder to attract new customers.
Here are the four factors that we here at Initial Design think are the most important to consider.
1. Identify Your Message
One of the first steps to establishing your brand is to identify and develop a clear message. What goals does your company have and how do they benefit the customer? What values does your business hold regarding customer service? How do you want your customers to experience your business? These are all questions to consider when defining your specific brand and business as a whole.
2. Build a Strategy for Each Communications Channel
There are multiple means of communicating with your customers, each one of which requires its own tactics and approach to convey your brand.
Your physical location is one such channel. When someone visits your location, how they are greeted by your employees, the cleanliness of your facility and the decor of your offices all convey your brand. A strategy for this channel might have employee training as a key success factor in communicating the right brand. In contrast, for the social media channel, such issues as timeliness of your Twitter feeds and syndicating the right sources of useful information might be central to your strategy. No single strategy can bridge all brand channels.
3. Be Consistent
Your prospects and customers respond best to positive repetition. It’s not enough that your facility is clean one time when a customer walks in the door, it has to be clean every time if you want people to associate cleanliness with your brand. Likewise, the content you push through social media should repeat the same set of benefits that you bring to your customers. Nothing destroys a brand faster than trying to push a “benefit of the month” to your prospects.
4. Always Look for Improvement
For your brand to be successful, you must constantly look to improve and continue to evolve your business. When possible, make changes that will satisfy or exceed your customers needs. Continually consider feedback given by your customers. By doing so, you are showing that you are a company that strives to improve itself, which is a key part of your brand.
By taking control of your brand, you are establishing who you are, telling your story and and not letting others define how you are labeled. Having a concrete brand sets the stage for growth and allows your business to stand out from competitors. Following the steps above can help in this process.