Branding is the emotional response your business evokes in its audience. It is more than a logo or a series of advertisements, it encompasses all the accumulated interactions your business has with customers. A brand is the core identity of your business and can be a powerful tool in ensuring your customers return, as well as recommend you to their friends and family. Successful branding is about capturing the hearts and minds of customers and turning them from people who use your product to advocates who go out of their way to choose you over a competitor. This loyalty is the foundation of many successful companies, from Apple to McDonalds, Coca Cola and many more.
You don’t need the budget of those companies for branding to be important. There is no formula to guarantee success, but there are few guidelines to help send your business in the right direction:
Define your brand – To make customers understand your business, you need to understand it yourself. Write down what your business stands for and what it wants to achieve. You can then work backwards to develop a plan to get your brand out to the ideal audience. Being vague will make your business forgettable, which is the worst thing any brand can be. Be definitive with what your business provides and why it is the best choice for customers.
Be consistent – Once you’ve decided on the function and values of your brand, don’t compromise them. They can of course develop and evolve, but bear in mind that every time a brand adds a new colour, or changes its font, or alters the way it deals with customer service, it is diluting the image it worked hard to build. Ensuring customers can rely on and trust your business to treat them right and be what they want is important for recognition and loyalty.
Aim for the long term – Customers have more choice than ever and are quick to change brands if they feel they aren’t getting value or good service. Aim for long term retention and build your brand on a solid foundation of client-focused service and quality. Short termism might generate some fast cash, but your brand won’t be worth anything if it can’t build relationships with consumers, which will affect the long term feasibility of your business.
Innovate and be bold – With an increasingly crowded marketplace, to stand a chance of being seen your business must distinguish itself from the competition. It is becoming hard to compete of price in a number of industries, making service and trustworthiness important for retaining customers and attracting new ones. Work on your unique selling proposition, whether it be a certain standard of service, or something more concrete. The Iconic is a perfect example, with their return policy and super-fast delivery.
An ongoing process
Branding isn’t a set and forget solution. To succeed, it relies on constant refinement and work. This can mean a comprehensive and active social media campaign, participation in community events, or a whole range of tactics designed to increase brand visibility. Keeping your brand foremost in a potential consumer’s mind is important to ensure your business is the one they think of when the time comes to make a purchase. This is the major goal of effective branding, creating future opportunities for conversion through consistency, reliability and visibility.