Brand development is one of the most important investments you can, and should make in your company. People often think about branding from a number of different perspectives. Is your brand your logo? Your company colors? Your tagline or your company message? Is it the uniforms that your employees wear, or is it their lack of uniforms that speak to who you are as a company? The short answer is, yes. All of those things (and so much more) are integral parts of your brand.
The best way that we’ve heard branding described is this; Your brand is your promise to your customers.
From your mission statement all the way to your products or services, your branding informs people who are and what they can consistently expect from you whenever they interact with your company. It’s important to think of your brand as a blanket over your whole operation, not just from the design perspective. Yes, your logo, brand colors, typefaces, websites, apps and advertising pieces help explain who you are, but they all stem from what you have decided (or need to decide) you want your customers to FEEL when they think about your company.
Remember that no one knows your brand better than you. Once you’ve built the visual base of your brand with your logo, your color palette, typefaces, taglines, etc., it’s important that you use those pieces to cover all of your branding bases. You decide what the best way to spread your message is. You decide what the best way to reach your customers is. Developing a cohesive brand message and brand identity is the foundation of any successful company, no matter how big or small.
The Secret Sauce
1.) Take Ownership
Far too often, companies relax their standards when it comes to their branding. Unfortunately, these minor slips here and there can lead to landslides. Instead of looking at your branding as a small piece of the puzzle, assume that every piece of your brand is YOUR branding, and no one else’s. If you chose a specific blue as part of your color palette, then you should assume that no one else has that blue. Conceding that “This blue is close enough” is the first step to a brand falling out of order. The more you own your brand, the more effective you will be at communicating your company message to your customers.
2.) Be Diligent
When it comes down to it, your brand is one of the few things that is not subjective. Your products or services are given value by the consumers, but YOU give value to your consumers with the promise of your brand. Take the time to seek out the best tools available to connect with your customers. If a do-it -yourself website is the most effective way to command your corner of the internet, then that’s what you should use. If your customers are on Twitter, tweet. If they’re on Pinterest, pin. Just because someone tells you “You should be buying ads on Facebook”, that doesn’t mean that it’s the most effective tool you can utilize. How you communicate is as important to your brand as your logo is, so be diligent in what goes into your branding toolbox.
3.) Keep it Simple
Being able to concisely explain who you are and what you do is crucial to developing your branding. You should be able to tell anyone in a sentence or two exactly what your brand is all about. Often this statement will make up a tag line for a brand, but it’s so much more. Even the biggest of companies with multiple arms have a simple core message. This message not only makes it easier for consumers to understand your brand, but it allows people who work for or with you to understand how best to apply your message in their work.
4.) Stay Consistent
Developing a brand is about building trust with your customer. The more consistent you are with how you portray your brand, the more that your customers will get the sense that they know what to expect from you. It is always better to start small with your promise, which means that you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself in trying to flood the market with your brand. Start by how you use your logo, your colors, or the types of imagery you use to portray yourself. Let your customers grow with you, so that when you’re at your most successful, those same customers will still be right there with you.
5.) Don’t Be Afraid to Evolve
You’re not stuck to being the same company when you were when you started, so neither should your branding. If you’ve worked hard to gain the trust of your customers, they will welcome, if not expect something fresh from you every now and again. Maybe it’s an updated logo, new brand colors, or a new website that you add to your branding, but it gives your customers the sense that you’re paying attention. Don’t be afraid to constantly question whether the core message of your company and the tools that you are using are the best things for you at the time. Brand refreshing is a great way to reinvigorate your company.
Brand development is a crucial part of building your business, but it can also be the most enjoyable, most efficient part. A solid brand foundation can help you get your new marketing efforts up and running faster, more affordably and more successfully in almost every application.
There are thousands of examples of successful brands, and 99.9% of them have something obvious in common. Their visual identity may be easily recognizable, but they will evoke a feeling of trust in their product or services. Target is still going to be Target with or without the bullseye because they have built trust in their brand with their customers. Investing in developing your brand is investing in building trust, and customers will invest their money in brands that they trust.