Brand is a favourite buzzword for marketers. But don’t think it only applies to large companies. Every business, from the smallest to the largest, needs to understand what brand is, and most of all, how to establish your own brand and how to keep it strong.
Many people think that brand is about your logo or the design of your website. This is only partly true. Think of brand instead as the “personality” of your business. In other words, your “brand” is your image as seen from the outside. It is who you are – your strength, your integrity and your reputation. Brand is not simply how your logo is displayed, but rather the emotional and intellectual response your logo elicits from your target audience.
Consider Starbucks, for example. Several images instantly come to mind when you see the Starbucks logo: designer coffee, expensive but good, casual café atmosphere, friendly, urban, green, knowledgeable. These images flood your mind so quickly because Starbucks has such a strong and recognizable brand.
How do you know your brand?
When you have a quiet moment, write down 10 positive characteristics that apply to your business. Ask others for their input. Some characteristics may be ones you wish you had – that’s okay. Underline them as ones you are going to work on in order to make them stronger.
Now match your brand to everything you do
Now compare everything your business does against each characteristic and ask yourself, “Do these match our brand?” For example, if “quality” is listed, is everything you do, from products to service, represent quality? If “friendly” is listed, are your sales staff approachable? Is your website friendly-looking and easy to use?” If “efficient” is a brand quality, do you make it easy for people to buy from you, to fill out forms, or arrange for delivery?
Often a business lists a brand characteristic but the brand quality isn’t represented by how that company acts. Be honest with yourself about where you need to improve. Delivering on your brand consistently, day after day, is how you’ll build loyalty with your customers.
Brand as it applies to your entire business
Brand should be reflected in every aspect of your business
- Design including your logo
- Written messages
- Your tag line
- Sales staff behaviour
- Attitude and behaviour of company owner/leader
- Technology, how easy it is to use
- Community outreach, if you are “community minded” , do you act on what you say?
When you brand your business well, you take control of its image. The next time your name comes up with a prospective customer, these images conjure up the brand qualities you created. Your customers choose your product or service because they trust your brand. That’s the power of branding.