In the midst of the stress and excitement of establishing a new business, many owners make the mistake of forgetting to give some of their focus to branding. More than any single marketing campaign, sales strategy or viral product, a company’s brand is what will build customer loyalty and ensure its longevity. Few steps in the creation of your business will be more crucial than establishing your brand.
Branding is much more than choosing a logo. It is the look, voice and values of your company. Your brand should both express who you are as a company as well as create commonality between you and your ideal customer. There are many important steps to successfully branding your business.
Identify Your Customer
No product or company will appeal to everyone. Before you can begin choosing your logos, storefront, social media presence, or anything else, you must decide what kind of customer you want to attract. If you don’t, you risk a generic presence in the commercial world that might not turn anyone off but simultaneously won’t draw anyone in. In business, you never want to be generic.
There has been a flood of new, smaller cellular providers who have had to find a way to differentiate themselves from the established market giants. They have chosen to brand themselves as the funny, hip, young and economical alternative. They use a casual voice, cute mascots and a lot of humor in their marketing. They also maintain their brand consistency throughout their media presence, online persona and product delivery. In this way, they can compete with larger companies and have become a significant threat to them in many key demographics.
Be True to Your Values
You want customers to relate to your company just like if it were another person. One of the clearest ways to achieve this is through consistent values branding. Many newer companies that want to appeal to younger generations take social and even political stances that they share with their customer base. This sharing of ideals and principles creates a strong bond between a business and consumers.
Many businesses that currently market to younger generations make political action or social justice a theme in their marketing content. From clothing lines that focus on ethical sourcing of their fabrics to specialty ice cream manufacturers who make the fight against climate change central to their identity to iconic sports shoe companies that take a public stance on social justice, values branding is a tool used by some of the most successful companies today. This kind of branding is powerful and can create high levels of brand loyalty between a business and its customers.
Regardless of your product or ideal customer, it is imperative that once you have chosen a branding strategy, you maintain it. Remember that branding is a long-term strategy. You want your company’s branding to not only be powerful but to be so consistent that it becomes immediately recognizable. Building that kind of recognition takes patience, time and stability.
Although visual branding such as logos can be updated, complete overhauls should be avoided. If you change your branding too drastically, you may find that you’ll have to begin back at square one in building brand recognition. Values branding is very difficult to change without old customers feeling betrayed. Better to try to broaden your appeal rather than changing it.
Branding is a much broader process than most people realize. It includes your logo, color scheme and font choices, but goes so much further. Branding is about communicating who you are to your customers. Because changing your brand completely is dangerous, it is important that you get it right the first time. Start with making sure you know who you want to appeal to and what culture you want to build. You’re not likely to pull in seniors and 20-somethings at the same time. You can’t be edgy and family-friendly simultaneously. Be bold and make a choice.