Branding has become something of a buzzword now. We are all brands now, not people.
Well, it’s sort of true, but let’s break it down further and try to understand what it is and how to build one.
You brand is not your logo or the layout of your websites. You don’t need to spend a whole lot of time on perfecting either. In time, it might be worth upgrading both in order to better convey what you want you want associated with your brand. Honestly, no one cares about your logo or how your website looks. It should be easy to move around and have some nice images, but the rest is just flash.
Your brand can be described as an identity
How is it an identity you might wonder, so let’s break this down further.
An identity has a three main components.
What your business offers.
This can be thought of as your products and services as well as your knowledge and expertise. These are the things you provide in the customer-business relationship. They are the foundation of your brand. How you present your products is important too since it reflects on your brand. Take good photos, and present your visitors with a smooth website that makes sense. Don’t make it overly cluttered. Write articles that are high value.
Give them information they need. Even better, anticipate what they need and deliver it before anyone else thinks to.
Accomplishments and credentials.
These are the authority you give your business. It might be experience, or training or certification. Some are very important, others less so, depending on the field. For a doctor or lawyer for example, passing the bar and medical boards are extremely important. For a private tutor you can be very knowledgeable in a certain field and very good at conveying the knowledge without formal degrees, but the time you have developed your practice and the success of your students is great selling point.
The core story.
Treat this loosely, not all “stories” follow a typical plot outline. These can be your stories, your customer’s stories, your employee’s stories, or anything else that describes your brand directly or indirectly.
This is the emotional heart of your business. This is something you can change and grow as your business does. You can reinvent the story if you need to, or focus on a new aspect of it. What sort of emotions do you wish to cultivate?
A great example of this is Delta’s marketing campaign during Breast cancer awareness month. They had current employees describe their breast cancer stories which they posted online and linked to in twitter posts. This has nothing to do with their primary business, flying people around, but instead it builds the story of the business, it puts a human face on it, and says look we care about the people that work for us and we put the money you pay us to good use helping people. And the unsaid message is that they will take care of you too when you are on their planes. If you were buying a ticket, would you chose an airline that you believe cares about people over the one with cheapest flights? Or if price were equal which would you choose? And notice too, what they have accomplished without needing to say, we are a compassionate business. It’s indirect, and very effective.
The core story behind your brand can have a real impact on a customer’s decisions to buy from you over someone else. So make your story part of your brand, but think carefully about what you want that to be. Consider what your target audience is most likely to respond to.
These three points are behind branding which plays into all your marketing efforts. In other words, branding is the centerpiece of your marketing strategy which will influence all your decisions in how you present and sell your business.
When you begin, you definitely want to make some branding decisions about these three points and how you will address them. Know that your brand is not a static thing. It evolves with you.
No one talked a lot about branding when I started my creative business, and I didn’t think about it much. I gradually took on an identity that I created slowly as I saw what sort of designs I created and how people reacted to them.
There were various points when I made conscious decisions to evolve my brand and what I wanted it to represent. I thought of it as evolving myself too, pushing myself to offer higher quality products that also showcased my skills and things I value.