Branding is more than product recognition or a simple logo. It is the overall intellectual and emotional impression people have when they think of your company and its product. It is a strong and consistent message about the value of your business.
A memorable and trustworthy brand reinforces customer loyalty. It helps them remember that your business provides the perfect solution to their problems. Therefore, to succeed in branding you must understand your customers’ needs and issues.
Brand building is an ongoing business strategy that has an easy-to-measure cost in time, money, and effort. Its value, on the other hand, is harder to establish because it involves measuring emotional associations that may not immediately translate into revenue. Branding is an essential element of success, however, and it should be reinforced during times when business is booming and when sales are slower. You want customers and potential customers to maintain a positive association with your company and its services.
You control the messages you send out through marketing, advertising, customer service, and your Internet presence. Branding is a combination of everything your company uses to present itself. Here are a few key elements to analyze and enhance in your branding strategy:
Professionally designed marketing materials (logo, stationery, ads, and the like): These tell customers your company is strong, confident, and credible. Your marketing materials should reinforce your company's image and positioning over and over and over.
Consistency in advertising: Develop a tagline to succinctly describe your company - and use it! Develop a campaign that can provide different messages, but is recognizable as your brand.
Excellent customer service - always! Make sure your entire staff positively represents your business image.
A strong and professional Website: It must be easy for viewers to navigate and understand. It should let visitors know what your company does and why they should care. Provide compelling, easy-to-understand, and interesting content. Make it easy for visitors to make purchases.
Differentiate your brand: Make sure your customers and potential customers understand why you are different from the competition. You want to establish a superior benefit with you target audience that encourages long-term loyalty.
Branding is not what you say about your company and products; it's about your customers' perception of your company and products. To strengthen your brand, make sure you can answer the following questions: What do you do that is different from anyone else? Why do you matter to your customers? If you can't answer these questions, you don't have an effective brand.
ACTION ITEM: Take a good look at your company and product/service strengths. Determine your primary strengths and benefits and then make sure your branding strategy (marketing materials, advertising, sales, customer services, logo, etc.) reinforces this. Simple, eh?