Business Branding: Everything You Need to Know
If you own a business, putting some effort into branding is a great idea. It can help set you apart from your competitors, attract more clients, and provide a range of other benefits.
One great thing about branding is the amount of time and money you spend on it is completely scalable to suit your situation. There are lots of ways to start creating a brand without much investment.
In this guide, we are going to look at what branding is, why it’s important, and how to do it.
What is a Brand?
A brand is what your customers think of when they hear your brand name. It’s like your company’s unique identity. It differentiates you from competitors and gives customers something to relate to.
For example, consider what comes to mind when you think of these brands:
- Tim Hortons
- Louis Vuitton
When you hear their name or see their logo, you probably don’t just think about their products. Instead, these brands can bring to mind certain values or ideals, like family, national pride, or luxury.
For a specific example, consider Coca-Cola. When you hear the name, you probably don’t just think about a soft drink. Coca-Cola has created one of the most famous brands in the world that often makes people think of values such as happiness, sharing, and tradition.
So how do these companies evoke these ideas, and how can you use it to help your business? The answer is effective business branding.
What is Branding?
Now that you know what a brand is, you may be wondering what goes into creating one. Here’s a simple branding definition: the process of creating distinctive features around your business that establish an image of your company in customers’ minds.
It can include many aspects of your business, such as:
- Company name
- Customer experience
In fact, it can include anything that affects the way customers see your company.
Why is Branding Important?
There are many benefits to effective branding. Here are just some of the things it can help you accomplish:
Stand Out from the Crowd
Company branding helps your business stand out in clients’ minds. As opposed to seeing your company as just another generic business, a brand can give customers a sense of your personality and value.
Once your brand is established, customers will be able to immediately recognize your brand at a glance. This helps differentiate your company from the pack and can help make your marketing efforts more effective.
Effective branding can also help your company stick in people’s memory. As opposed to relying on remembering the exact name of your business, a great brand and logo can help jog their memory.
Over time, a brand can create a sense of familiarity and begin to foster loyalty from customers.
Having poorly-designed, inconsistent, or non-existing branding can potentially hurt your business. For example, if you have a weak logo, it can lead a potential customer to scroll right past your listing and opt for a competitor.
On the other hand, the most successful companies put a lot of effort into their branding, and it shows. So having well-designed branding provides an air of professionalism that you should use to your advantage.
Make Employees Proud
Besides helping to attract customers, a great brand can also provide benefits within your company. For one, a recognizable brand can help make employees proud to be associated with it. Also, it can help you attract talent when you’re hiring.
Lastly, similar to your mission statement, having a brand can help guide your business. When making decisions about your offering, marketing, or business development, you can ask yourself, “does this fit with our brand?”
How to Build Your Brand
As you’re building your company brand, here are some things to keep in mind. These considerations can help guide the overall aesthetic and feel of your branding.
Find Your Audience
Always keep your target audience(Link to upcoming article) in mind. For example, the design of your website would probably vary greatly depending on whether your target audience was young professionals or retirees.
One popular exercise that can help is creating buyer personas. That means creating generalized representations of some of your ideal customers.
It’s useful because it involves taking an in-depth look at your customer demographics and what’s important to them. Once you create some buyer personas, it can help you better relate to your customers and personalize your marketing efforts to different segments of your audience.
Show Your Value
Your value proposition can help guide you in building a brand. Think about what your business’s strengths are. What do customers like the most about your business? What do you aim to do for your customers?
Keep this value proposition in mind as you build your brand, and try to convey it through things like your slogan or your website.
For example, think about Mastercard’s slogan: “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.”
The company has been using that slogan around the world since 1997. And it’s not just catchy. The slogan does a good job highlighting Mastercard’s universal acceptability.
Consider Your Company Culture
Think about the personality and culture of your organization. This is another thing that might set you apart from competitors and can play an important role in your brand.
Aspects of your company culture like the work environment and your company’s vision can help guide your branding.
Take a look at Starbucks. It has become known as a socially ethical company due to things like responsible purchasing practices, charitable initiatives, and giving employees a range of benefits. These aspects of its culture have become an important part of the Starbucks brand. So keep your company culture in mind.
Here are some specific examples of the many things you can use to build a brand.
- Company or brand name: (Once you have a great one, don’t forget to register your business name!)
- Logo: It should be simple yet memorable.
- Slogan: Choose one that accurately represents your brand and is easy to remember.
- Colour scheme: The colour scheme can be applied to all types of things, from your website and business card to product packaging. It might just be a single, unifying colour, or a number of complementary colours that make up the pallet for your designs.
- Product offering and pricing: How much you charge can say a lot about your brand. Think about the Stella Artois ad campaign that boasted how the beer was “Reassuringly Expensive” vs. Wal-Mart’s slogan that promises customers they can “Save Money. Live Better.”
Promotion and Resources
- Company website: Extend your branding to include the website design, images, content, and tone of voice.
- Charitable initiatives: How you support your community can play a role in creating your brand.
- Advertising: to get the most out of advertising and social media promotions, stay on brand with content, style, and message.
- Voicemail greeting: Even your voicemail message should reflect the tone of your company branding.
- Staff attitude and dress: Ensure your staff is on board with your business branding through training sessions or written guides.
- Signage: Your brand can extend to things like the signs at your location to make the style and typography consistent.
- Décor: As always, keep your colour scheme and target audience in mind when remodelling your location.
Important Tips on Building Your Brand
Here are a couple of crucial tips that will help you create effective branding.
This is one of the most important aspects of building a brand. Once you decide on things like a colour scheme and tone of voice, you should try to keep it consistent across everything that customers see.
That’s because inconsistencies can look unprofessional or confuse the message behind your branding. For example:
- If your advertising has a casual and conversational tone, but your voicemail is very professional and business-like, it can be jarring to customers.
- If your website has a completely different colour scheme than your promotional materials, it can look shoddy, seem outdated, or make customers wonder if they ended up on the wrong site.
Consistency makes your branding more effective because it hammers the message home, and helps build that sense of familiarity that you’re aiming for.
Use Content Marketing
Content marketing can make an excellent addition to your company branding. It’s a low-cost way to help establish your brand, attract customers, and become known as an expert in your industry.
So what is content marketing? It means creating content that’s valuable to your audience and distributing it as a way to market your business.
That could include things like how-to videos or interesting blog posts. The key to content marketing is that you’re providing something that your audience wants.
For example, take a look at the H&R Block website. It includes an online tax calculator, a “Tax Tips” blog, and a tax deduction checklist. These useful resources are exactly the type of thing their target audience is looking for, and they’re available for free right on the website.
Spend Time on Your Logo
Logos are more important than you might think. A logo can say a lot about your brand, and it’s not easy to create a great one. So it’s something you should put some real effort into.
Just take a look at the logos for Nike or Apple. They might seem simple at a glance, but make no mistake — they are expertly designed. They are great examples because they show many of the traits that make for an effective logo, such as:
Keeping the considerations from above in mind, you may be able to create your own logo if you have a good eye for design. But if you’re not confident in your design skills, don’t worry.
There are lots of affordable options for getting design help, and some that are appropriate even if you have a very small business on a tight budget. One website worth checking out is Upwork, as it makes it easy to find affordable freelance designers who can take your logo to the next level.
Focus on Customer Experience
Customer experience is such an important aspect of your brand that it is something you should put a lot of focus on.
To see how important it is, think about it this way. If you have developed a great brand in every other area, but the customer experience doesn’t meet the same standards, you may be able to attract customers—but they won’t stay for long.
So put some extra effort into things like employee training, customer relationship management, and technical support.
Budgeting Your Brand
Since branding affects so many different areas of your business, it can be hard to know how much it will cost. But here are some tips on how to plan your spending on branding.
Let’s start with what to include when calculating how much time and money you’ll need to spend.
Research and Planning Phase
An effective branding strategy needs to include some market research. Doing some research will help with:
- Differentiating yourself from competitors
- Getting inspiration from successful companies
- Learning more about your target audience
And once the research is done, you’ll need to spend some time planning your branding before you get started. So don’t forget to include this initial step in your budgeting.
This phase includes the creation of all the different elements of your brand identity. This is the phase where most of your branding budget will go.
It can involve the design and production process for:
- Product packaging
The reason it will account for the bulk of your branding budget is that it often involves bringing in experts such as designers.
Once you have your branding strategy and the various parts of your brand identity, it’s time to put them to work. Thankfully, this step should not require a lot of resources or professionals. At this phase, you can simply incorporate your branding into your existing marketing program.
For example, that can include:
- Following your brand style guide when promoting on social media.
- Spending time to ensure employees understand the brand.
Scaling Your Branding
Here are a couple of tips on how to gauge how much you should spend on branding.
Branding becomes more important as the reach of your business grows. For example, if you run a small business with a local clientele, you might deal with all of your customers yourself.
But if you have a larger business, branding becomes more important. That’s because your brand is what represents you to the clients and prospective clients you’ve never met. If that’s the case with your company, you should be willing to put more time and effort into business branding.
Another factor that can help you gauge how much to spend on branding is the competition. Are there a lot of competitors in your space? Are you going up against some well-established brands? These are questions to ask yourself, and if the answers are “yes,” you should be ready to invest more in your branding.
Now Build Your Brand!
If you follow the tips in this guide, you should be well on your way to creating a brand that will help your business excel.
As a final word of advice, once you have that great brand in place, it may be a good time to register your trademark. This helps protect all the hard work you’ve done because it can protect your branding from being imitated.
So get started and try out your new business branding knowledge!
Ready to start your business? Ownr has helped over 15,000+ entrepreneurs hit the ground running quickly – and affordably. If you have questions about how to register or incorporate your business, give us a call at 1-800-766-6302, Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm EST, or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
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