Today we are on information overload. We are constantly bombarded with news, information, and advertisements everywhere we turn. So, how do you make your company or yourself stand out from the crowd? Branding. “But, I have a logo,” you say. Good start, but that is not branding. It is just a piece of the larger pie. Let’s take a look at the 5 steps to branding.
First, let’s begin with what branding is not. Branding is not tactical. It is not a logo, or a tag line, or a color scheme, or even a message. Those are all great things and will help you brand yourself, but they do not constitute your brand. When we say that branding is not tactical we mean that it is not a tool that is employed some of the time, a means to an end. Think about your messaging. It can change your message depending on who your audience is. Some audiences respond to different aspects of your message than others do. However, they should all respond to your brand.
So then, what is branding? The American Marketing Association defines it as “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” A more interesting explanation comes from dictionary.com: “kind, grade, or make, as indicated by a stamp, trademark, or the like; to make indelibly.” To make it indelible is a great way of explaining it. Branding is strategic. It embodies your company’s essence. That one thing that you do that differentiates you from everybody else, that is your essence. That is what you want to tell everyone. That is your brand. Your brand is completely unique to you. It is your product. It is the way you do business. It is the way you conduct yourself. It is always happening. It is what you do, just because, that is what you do. Well, now that we know what branding is how do we go about it?
5 steps to branding
1. Understand how you are viewed
This takes a little bit of soul-searching. This is where you find that essence that makes you, you. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask what differentiates me? Ask your clients, “why am I different than my competition?” Ask your employees (I guarantee you each one has a different response if you are not well branded), “what separates us from our competition?” Once you know what differentiates you, you have found your essence, your brand.
2. Communicate your brand
You have done the hard part, finding your essence. Now you need to tell everyone about it, the physical branding of stuff. This is where you can do some of the fun creative things with your identity system i.e. logo, website, business cards, letterhead etc. Great design can help communicate your brand in a clear and concise manner through your identity system. You want your identity system to do the heavy lifting. You want everything to tie together in a way that as soon as someone sees a part of it they will know that it is from you.
3. Leave an endless impression
This is where the idea of “to make indelible” really comes into play. Chances are you will not be there when your client will actually need your product or service. So, you need to make sure that they think of you when they do need it. In order to make sure they remember you, you have to constantly remind them that you are available. You have to leave an endless impression with them so they will think of you the moment they need a product like yours. Doing all the little things to build your brand will help. Things like thank you notes after a purchase. Random check-ins just to make sure everything is ok. Occasional freebies. These will all help you stick out in the client’s mind.
4. Be consistent
Like that poppy jingle that you cannot get out of your head, you want your clients thinking about you in the same way. Yes, even if it is a little annoying. When you use the same branding over and over again it becomes recognizable. The more you use it, the more your clients become used to it. This recognition helps creates loyalty. When all of your trucks have your logo or all of your employees have the same email signature your brand becomes consistent. Using it over and over again will show your attention to detail and help reinforce your brand in the client’s mind.
5. Personally brand
Clients like to know that they are heard. The more personal the communication the more trust and loyalty is built with your brand. This is where employing a little social media can help. Communicate with your clients. Let them know what you are up to, ask and answer their questions, but be consistent. Developing a brand is not an easy task. It takes work, consistency, and time, but if you follow the steps and stick with it you should develop a brand that will gain client loyalty and recognition. This will make you stand out from the crowd.
Insert shameless plug, at Zynk 30 thinking strategic is our essence. We have helped companies of all sizes with their branding. From helping name start-ups to rebranding a 90-year-old company, we understand the challenges. This is where you email us, or pick up the phone and call us so we can help you with your branding.