Branding is essential for the success of any company. It gives you more exposure and ensures that people will remember you. But what would happen if you make crucial mistakes in the creation and implementation of your brand? It could cost you your business, so pay close attention when we point out the most important aspects of branding.
What is a brand?
There are various descriptions for a brand, but I always liked to describe it as an experience. When you offer clients a certain service or product, you offer them an experience as well. This is what branding is all about. One good example of branding is the Coca Cola Company and their campaign to ‘share a coke with…’ This campaign made people experience togetherness, family and made people associate coca cola with a good time. This is basically what you try to invoke with your clients to.
Rely On Your Customers
The most common mistake many entrepreneurs make when they create their very own brand is assumption. They assume their target group will like or even love certain aspects of their brand, but after some time it usually becomes very clear they couldn’t have been more wrong. In order to avoid this type of problem, it is essential to connect with your target group and ask their opinion.
Asking the feedback of clients can be quite easy if you have a walk-in store, however, it becomes a lot more difficult if your business depends on e-commerce or similar platforms. People don’t like to be spammed with emails, surveys and the least of all phone calls. So how can you get the feedback of your clients on branding?
It is true, sometimes you need to be a little aggressive to discover what people think and need. However, in doing so you might jeopardize your good name or even the success of your company. There are less intrusive ways to ask the opinion of your target group without upsetting anyone.
The most cost-effective way to ask the opinion of your target group is by implementing a poll on a website. However, this can be a very slow process and not everyone has the time or interest to answer certain poll questions. The best way to go about it is by using a paying survey. There are many companies where you can post your survey for a specific target group, the only downside is that you’ll have to pay for this valuable information. What you get in return will be more than worth the investment though, because this valuable info can make or break your company.
Figure Out Your Business
Your business is the basic building block of your brand, so you’ll have to understand it perfectly in order to implement it. Unlike any other, you know the competencies of your business and what you can achieve for your customers.
When you are determining the core values of your business, it is best to ask the feedback of your clients again. This is very easy to do when you have existing customers, because they can give you valuable opinions on the current state of your business. Are your clients finding your business reliable, luxurious or maybe caring? Whatever your returning customers have experienced, might be the angle to use for your business.
Determining Your Brand Identity
Once you have contacted customers and determined the core competencies of your business, you can start determining your brand identity. No matter your brand identity, someone will have to lead it. If you are not as comfortable in the spotlight, it might be worth considering another person to lead the brand to success while you work in the background. This person must also represent the values of your business and must have a certain creditability. Remember, you are trying to convey a certain message to potential customers that will only be received if conveyed correctly.
When you determine your brand identity, you must also ensure that it does not contradict itself. For example, your customers experience your business as personal, reliable and high quality. However, during discussions you have decided to go with quick and cheap, which does not reflect the opinion of your clients. Coming out with a brand identity that is very different from the feedback of your clients, may even cost you existing customers. New customers will also experience something different than what was promised to them, causing them never to return again. It is therefore crucial that you avoid this common mistake at all cost.
Creating Your Brand
When your brand identity has been established, the actual brand can be created. You have determined the competencies of your business, its values, quality and how you will communicate your message to customers. Now it is time to process this message into everything your potential customer hears and sees before he or she even enters your business.
The brand already starts with any content you write, this can be content on the website or even in advertisements. All content must reflect the business values and competencies you previously determined in order to be successful. Do not see branding as a one-time advertisement tool, because it is much more than that. Branding is a total picture that must add up in every aspect of your company, online as well as offline. If you are planning to release some advertisements, check them for consistency before you release them so that the brand stays intact.
Staff also plays a vital role in the creation of your brand, because they convey the message when conversing with clients or whenever they come into contact with a potential business partner. Informing your staff about your brand, its competencies and its values is therefore an essential part to maintain your good name.
Area Of Effect
After you have created your brand, it might take some time before it starts to catch on. Your brand will increase in strength over time, as long as your business conveys the same message the brand indicates.
In order to make your brand strong, you’ll need to utilize your staff to its maximum potential. Your staff needs to believe in the message you want to convey and there is little to no room for error. People tend to care more about a certain brand when their opinion is asked, so asking your staff for frequent input is definitely a good idea. Their suggestions can also be a valuable tool to spread your brand further.
When your brand has been running for some time, you can ask for the most valuable opinion of them all, the opinion of your customers. Take into account that not all feedback will be positive, because every single business has to deal with certain complaints. Even if a complaint is very minor, it is worth looking into in order to improve your brand.
However, many business owners often make the mistake to only listen to negative feedback and build from there. This type of strategy can lead to a clouded brand and is never a good idea. In order to avoid this type of problem it is necessary to look at the positive as well. Discover what your clients find good about your business and use it as another building block on your branding pyramid. When people are happy about a certain aspect of your business, it is very likely they will return.
A successful brand can make your business grow like no tomorrow, but there is always a danger here. When you have room to expand, you will start thinking about new products or services you can offer. Many entrepreneurs make a huge mistake here by introducing a product or service that does not fit the current brand. This mistake can cost them dearly, because it makes the brand identity less strong.
For example, coca cola recently released a green bottle of coca cola. However, the response has not been as positive as they would have liked. This has much to do with the brand of coca cola and how it is represented by a consistent red colour in their designs. The green colour was less recognizable in stores and therefore sold less than intended.
The same thing goes for your company when you are thinking about a certain product or service. Ensure that the new product or service that you offer lies within your brand and ensure that it is possible to still convey the message you want to deliver when you implement something new.
Creating a brand might look easy in theory, but when it comes to budget it can become a lot harder. However, it is essential to incorporate a budget plan for brand creation, apart from your advertising budget. This is the building block of your company and will require the necessary funds.
First of all you’ll have to take into account the time and the cost of staff training, especially when the implementation of a new brand is involved. Staff need time and training to become familiar with the brand, the products and the competencies of your company.
Then there is also the matter of personalised correspondence. A successful brand should be supported by personalised stationary, packaging and even merchandising if there is enough budget for it. Nowadays there are many great deals you can take advantage of and you can get these things quite easily from the start.
Many entrepreneurs also create a separate budget for advertising, but this actually belongs in the budget for branding. Advertisement is a part of your brand delivery, so that is how it should be treated. Take into account that online advertising may seem cheap at first, but that long-term running costs may increase quite rapidly. A budget estimation for online advertising is therefore no unnecessary luxury.
When you have no experience whatsoever with the creation of a brand, it is a good idea to leave some room in your budget for a branding agency. They can work out the brand for you and determine the best possible strategy for your business to be successful.
You might already have some brilliant ideas for the creation of your brand, but it needs to be said that it is better to concentrate on one general brand and not creating a brand for each of your products.
The same principle applies when you bring out a new version of a product, for example the iPad2. It is more likely that people will refer to their product as an iPad, and not an iPad2. This means that you can stay within your general brand if you decide to go with a second or even third version of a certain product.
In some rare cases it might be worth reconsidering your company name. This has everything to do with URLs and recognisability. For example, a local plumber, Jeff Branson, has called his plumbing business ‘Branson’. However, this is not a good name since people have no idea what this name stands for or that this company offers plumbing services. If Jeff would change the company name to ‘Branson Plumbing’ it would be that much clearer for potential customers. It also isn’t advice to go for a company name that is too long. Short and sweet is more powerful than a name that nobody can remember.
Before you actually decide on your brand identity and even your company name, it is a good idea to take a poll with people connected to the business. The majority of votes can deliver a much better result and will take into account multiple viewing points. If you do not like the decision, you still have the final say as the owner, but in order to ensure success you can always come up with an alternative.
Last but not least it is essential to protect your brand. You might have created the best possible brand for your product or service, but when it isn’t protected by a trademark, somebody might take it away from you and leave you with nothing.