Branding is growth!
None of the adjacent brands grew to become unique and stood out with customized consumer experiences without some serious branding efforts. Apparently, the only way to grow your business, depite competition, is through branding?
Branding can make you or break you!
Branding today, is much more than just the look or the logo. It signifies an emotional reaction or “gut feeling” your business elicits from customers. Simply put, your brand is how people percieve your business. A set of collective actions taken to create that perception is a branding exercise.
Brand is a noun and intangible, but branding is a verb, a set of actions. Branding is happening when you are developing a brand voice, when you are designing your brand logo or when you are brainstorming an ad campaign. An action or a set of actions you undertake to create an amazing customer expereince, becomes impossible without branding. Branding is a set of expectations you create and deliver!
It is easy to understand now, that marketing and branding are closely knit.
Is branding critical to your business?
Stand out in the crowd
What is your USP? Does your brand rank as special? Why people or businesses buy your products? Are you creating awesome customer experiences?
* Tell your story
Creating a brand is about telling your story. To create a compelling brand, you need to tell people about how your brand arrived to where it is now. What is your business and how it creates value for them? Your brand is your business personality and stands for its ethos.
* Showcase personality
Your customers and prospects love seeing and hearing about people behind the brand, so show your personality. The more personable your brand is the better emotional response it will evoke, so a better connect with customers.
* Make it meaningful
Your brand should be memorable as well as meaningful to make it stand out. Create an emotional connect with the audience and makes a lasting impression. Emotions are equally essential to brand success, so ensure that your messaging carries the right ones, every time.
* Brand experience
Branding does not stop with a good logo. Branding is about triggering an emotional response towards your product or service. Your brand should focus on creating an amazing and a positive customer experience.
Creating customer experiences
Customer expereince will be the deal-maker going ahead. Creating consistent customer experiences across various touchpoints is critical to success.
* Customer experience is “the” differentiator
Customer experience will be the most important differentiator for your business in the future. Your brand will reap rewards, if you are willing to invest on customer experiences instead of advertising or press and media. Remember – 33% of customers would be willing to walk away from your brand after just one bad experience.
* Get paid premium
Customers are willing to pay an 18% price premium if they receive a great customer experience. Needless to say, it will also go miles in word-of-mouth advertising and finally the better return on your investment. Calculate!
* Customer loyalty counts
Almost 50% customers make impulsive purchases if they enjoy the customer experience your business provides. Over a loyalty period of 6 years, they will be making about 150% more purchases. Well, that’s a lot of revenue.
* Strategize customer experiences
With marketing, branding and sales running parallel, it is time that your business chalks out a customer experience strategy and inculcate it. This will drive repeat purchases and of course, the same customers will help you build your brand as well as your business, on auto pilot.
Build brand awareness
Are you searching or “Googling”? Do you order a burger or a “MacD”? Branding is creating a distinct style using impactful assets on a planned strategy.
* Provide excellent customer service
Customers have evolved, today they look to nothing less than exceptional after sales service and prompt turnaround times. The quality of customer service offered by your business can make or break the deal, especially in the online business niche. It is a part of customer experience.
* Be at the forefront of your market
Online, your business needs to keep reminding your customers “Hey, I am here!.” If you do not keep at it, customers can drift elsewhere. That does not mean you can spam, after all “out of sight is out of mind.”
* Provide value – walk the extra mile
Everyone delivers 100%, you do too. What, then differentiates your brand? Walk the extra mile, provide more value for the customer’s buck. They will love you and you will be the “go-to” business in no time. And, that’s a win-win, because it builds brand recognition and awareness.
* Write a blog or a book
Informative and entertaining blog posts go a long way in branding. Maintain a regular schedule and share your posts. This will help build better brand recognition ,in addition to a lot of SEO juice. Better still, you could write a niche book.
Brand recognition and identity
Your brand lives in the prospect’s psyche, not on paper. Branding helps create instant connect with prospects and customers without extra effort.
* Brand recognition
All of us recognise a BMW logo, the Nike logo or the Starbucks logo since we keep seeing them wherever these businesses serve customers, with consistency. Many small businesses do not care about such consistent identity. Remember, people recognise and recommend businesses based on the brand identity and the response it evokes.
* Myths cleared
Despite opinions, a brand is much bigger than just a logo. A designer does not create a brand, he creates a brand identity. A brand establishes credibility and trust through interactions. It is a commitment and sets expectations.
* Brand interactions are critical
Your brand interacts everyday with your customers and prospects and that includes images, messages, content on marketing collaterals and everything else, including your social media posts and even email messaging.
* Where is your brand?
Branding defines your business reputation by the way your products and services are portrayed, and defines the values of your business. A brand is in the onlookers psyche, not on paper. The final goal of branding is to build awareness and loyalty and through them, a successful business.
Elements to keep in mind
Vision and mission
Vision is the Heart, and Mission is the brain of your business. Expressing your heart using your brain should come across as customer-centric.
* Brand purpose
A brand promises certain expectations to all those who interact with it. So, a brand purpose is about creating those expectations and goes much deeper than just branding. Clearly, a brand purpose then, is entwined with the vision and mission of your business. Why are you in the business you are in – “Why” of the Brand.
* The “why” of your brand
A well built brand should tap into the idealistic motivations of those who interact with it. This is when the customers and other outsiders look at the deeper reasons for the existence of your business and that lies beyond making money. Every business gains from clarity once the “Why” is answered.
* After the ”Why” – Vision
After “Why” comes the “What” – something that your business has set out to accomplish as a result of the “Why”. You commitment to the brand purpose of “why” will define the outcomes of your business.
* After the “What” – Mission
“How” does your business achieve “What” it has set out to do. The clarity about “why” you are in business and “what” needs accomplished is necessary to understand “how” you will get there. The clearer the mission, the better is your growth.
Create your brand design
Designing a new brand identity for your business is a creative process. Create a design that represents both, the values and commercial appeal.
* Do your research
Look up and analyze the competition for their brand designs. Once done, narrow in on the goal for your brand. The need to fit into the right niche and looking relevant and superior to competition, could be a tall ask. Once you get your USP (how you will exploit the market differently) right, you are good to put pencil to paper.
* Narrow down the options
Draw out three logo options and then seek external opinion. Pay attention to brainstorming and do not commit emotionally to any of the options, keep your mind open. Get a fresh opinion after resting, pay importance to simplicity and interpretation. This is not about personal tastes, it is about what your audience likes and interprets easily.
* Think color
Go back to your research and check colors that your competition uses. Read up on color psychology and check how suitable colors and their effects could influence your prospects. This perception is important, do not ignore.
Choose the typefaces wisely depending on the niche your business is in, and they could give you a good brand identity. Many brands use multiple typefaces, research multiple fonts and come up with a few options before you narrow down and decide.
Brand style guide
Creating and Documenting a brand style guide is a great idea. It will help direct your marketing efforts as well as your decision-making with consistency.
* Accurate representation
All creativity that goes into assets representing your brand should be accurate and showcase your brand purpose. If your teams are large or strewn across the globe, this can get challenging without a proper brand style guide. Without a proper brand style guide, you could be playing hardball with your brand identity.
* Quality control
More often than not, all collaterals are created against deadlines. These collaterals are the foundation of your reputation. Disjointed and ineffective content can do irreparable damage to your brand and hence the need for a comprehensive brand style guide. Your reputation depends on delivering quality content.
* Enhanced comprehension
Crisp design and clear communication makes it easier for the reader to understand your brand better. Guidelines for colour use, typography and data visualization make for awesome content experience, and fulfilment of brand purpose.
* Consistent brand recognition
Following branding guidelines helps people recognize your content easily in addition to delivering a cohesive brand experience. Consistent deliver of high-value, informative content creates trust and long term relationships.
A website is a critical piece of real estate for your business. Using branding elements to create this customer experience is critical to your business.
* Get ready
If you want to build a big business, you will need to look the part. Your brand is how the world perceives you – about 90% people check your website before they meet you, 97% decide on doing business with you depending on your website and almost 100% admit that they left your website since it was poorly designed or found it difficult to use. Are you looking the part?
* Define your business
People cannot understand your USP, if you don’t. Describe your business in 5 words and then narrow it down to one. For Nordstrom it is ‘quality’ and for Nike, it is ‘leading’. Brainstorm it and start building your website, revolving your thoughts around the word.
* Build a simple website
Use a lot of white space and not too many words. This will make it look sophisticated when you add in some great pictures and splashes of color. Too much color is complexity and more work for eyes and the brain. Think “Google”.
* Market, market, market!
Use SEO, SEM, SMM and whatever it takes to keep announcing to the world about your website. Over time, you will be found online by customers easily. If you do not market your website or don’t keep it updated, there is no point having one and that is a BIG opportunity lost.