What is a brand?
It’s not uncommon for a “brand” to be thought of as a logo, a company name or tagline. While those are part of building your brand, there’s much more.
Very simply, a brand is the feeling people have or what comes to mind when they see, hear or think about your company. It’s the totality of experience with your company, including product, pricing, and service.
The logo creates a visual identity, while the “brand” creates a visceral feeling. Together they are your brand. Together they create the feeling customers have toward your company.
When most people think of Nike not only does world-famous “swish” logo come to mind, but also the feelings about the company. People recognize and like Nike the “brand”, not just its logo.
Then there’s Time Warner Cable. Most people have negative feelings about the company because of poor service, high fees and the company’s
unwillingness to remain competitive. It doesn’t matter what their visual logo is. People dislike TWC.
In these two cases, the logo plays a small part. The brand is based on the totality of customers’ experience. And that’s what building your brand is all about.
Defining your brand and creating a strategy
When defining your brand, you want to develop a brand strategy that not only includes your logo but also how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering your brand message.
Here are four questions you must answer when building your brand.
- What is your mission? That is, what business are you in?
- What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
- What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
- What qualities or attributes do you want associated with your company?
In order to build a strong brand, you must understand who your customers are and what they want. You must learn the needs, habits and desires of your customers and prospects. You need to think from the customers’ perspective, not yours.
Once you’ve defined your brand, how do you promote it? Here are six must haves:
- Get a great logo and show it everywhere you can.
- Define your brand message. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Everyone who works for you should be aware and support it.
- Extend your brand message into everything. Everything you do helps you in building your brand, including how the phones are answered, customer service responsiveness, how you sign your emails. Remember: everything is your brand.
- Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. This “voice”(Some call it the brand personality) should be incorporated into ALL communications. Do you want a professional voice? Friendly? Sophisticated? Fun? Whichever (voice or persona) you choose, keep it consistent in everything you do.
- Create a tagline or positioning. Create a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand. In a very competitive market, it can help separate you from the competition. And, keep you top of mind.
- Be consistent everywhere. Make sure everything you doing uses the same style, tone and elements. Some companies create a style guide so that everyone in the company knows exactly what to use and has access to templates and guidelines.
Building your brand is not easy. It’s not going to happen overnight. Brands that are well-known today took years to create. So you need to be patient, consistent and committed to building your brand.
Keep delivering on your promise one day at a time and one day in the near future, you’ll have a brand you can leverage and of which you can be proud.