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Defining Your Brand

What does your brand say about your business? It’s an important question that’s at the very heart of modern marketing. If you are setting up a new business or thinking about rebranding an existing one, the first thing to think about is what your brand stands for. This can be a complex, time consuming and often frustrating process. But getting it right can mean the difference between success and failure. Fortunately, there is a method to the madness. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

• What does your business stand for?
• What do you want to achieve
• What makes your company unique?
• Why should a customer choose you over your competitors?
How do your services or products benefit your customers?
• What do people think of your company?
• How would you like your business to be perceived?

Start with Research

Every successful brand starts with thorough customer research. Find out what your target audience loves, hates, needs and desires and you will quickly build up an understanding of what they expect from you. And never try and second-guess your customers. If you don’t know something, ask. People are more than willing to volunteer their opinion if they are made to feel valued and respected. If you don’t feel comfortable or simply don’t have time to do the legwork, you can employ the services of a professional market research company who can find out the answers for you.

Once you understand what your customers want and how you can provide it for them, it’s time to put your brand in to action. Here are eight top tips on how to give your brand a healthy head start.

Visual Identity

The most important part of your branding is getting your visual identity right. What do you want your logo to look like? What colour scheme best represents your business? When you have your new identity, use it everywhere. Update your website, use it on social media, redesign your business stationery, add it to staff uniforms, wear it on a lanyard around your next; whatever helps you spread the word about your business. For the best possible outcome, it’s a good idea to hire a professional designer.

Your Brand Vision

To help your brand succeed, every employee of your business has to be on the same page. That’s why it’s important to write down and distribute your brand messages. These are the fundamental principals that underpin everything you do. It may be something as simple as ‘serve the best tea and cake on Chorley high street’, but as long as your employees understand that this is what you are aiming for, you can achieve it together. And let your customers know too.

Branding Through and Through

The word branding doesn’t just describe what your business looks like, it runs through everything you do and say. Your products, service, staff, premises, the lanyard around your neck and even you are essential pieces of the puzzle that is your brand. Every time you step through the door, answer the phone or send an email, you are representing your brand. It’s vital to your reputation that each team member understands your business objectives and how they can help your brand grow.

Create a Brand Voice

What does your brand sound like? This may seem like a bit of a strange question, but your brand has a very real voice; and this voice has a big impact on your business. Every email you send, every advert you run, and every time your employees speak to a customer, your brand is saying something to the world. You need to make sure that what you are saying is positive, passionate and well informed.

Is your brand friendly and funny? Or are you serious and professional? Do you have an air of luxury, or are you a brand of the people? By establishing a consistent tone of voice, you can communicate with your customers in an authentic and engaging way.

Complement Your Logo with a Catchy Strapline

A strapline is a great way to let your customers know what you do and what you stand for. If your business name is something very descriptive like Tom’s Taxis you’ll want to choose a strapline that sums up your brand ethos; for example, it could be “luxury travel for professional people”. If you do something a little more niche, you may need a strapline that explains the service you provide. For example, you may run a digital marketing consultancy called Zest. It’s unclear what you do from your name, so your strapline could be something along the lines of “effective digital marketing solutions”. Choose something short and full of personality, and you will help strengthen your brand reputation. Your strapline should sit next to or below your logo and can be featured on everything from your signage to your staff lanyards.

Have Standards

It’s a good idea to produce some official brand guidelines to establish company wide best practice when promoting your business. It’s a simple way of helping your staff stay consistent and on message. These guidelines can cover everything from how and where to use your logo, which shade of red your uniforms should be, and the type of language to use in client emails.

Be True to Your Brand

In business, honesty is always the best policy. That’s why you should never make brand promises you can’t deliver. Your loyal customers will stop picking up the phone, and new customers will leave after the first disappointment. It will also severely damage your reputation. Just be honest about what you do and you will attract customers that are genuinely interested in the service or product you provide.

Consistency is King

The last but most important thing to remember is consistency. You need to ensure that every element of your business is moving in the same direction. If your brochures were designed using your old branding, get new ones printed. If your junior marketing executive is using off-brand language on social media, sit down with them and help them understand how to speak with the correct tone of voice. People warm to brands that they feel they know and understand. By being consistent in everything you say and do, you can encourage customer loyalty and significantly boost your profits.

Brand Identity