"Your brand is only as good as your reputation." - Richard Branson
Now that you know what a brand is and why having one is important for your business, it is time to start developing one. Remember to keep in mind that a brand is not just a cool logo, a great tagline or a large social media presence. While those are all important identifying components, they are not the brand itself. As Richard Branson puts it, “Your brand is your reputation.” The better the reputation, the better the brand will be received by the public.
The first step in branding is defining who you are, not who you want to be. Who you want to be is your destination, not the starting point. Like all journeys you have a starting point. If you don’t know where that is, it can be very difficult to arrive at your destination as you have no idea what direction to travel or where you are traveling from.
So who are you really? When someone goes to your website, what impression are you giving them? When they call your customer service team, how do they feel after the call? You must be brutally honest with the answers. Are customers excited and satisfied to be part of the brand team, are they disgusted and angry, or do they feel nothing at all? Understanding how your customers view you and your business is crucial to finding someplace to start.
Next, you have to decide if the impression your customers have of you is the one you want them to have. If yes, then you are on the right track. If not, then it’s time to determine who you want to be. Are you the reliable vendor who can supply the product they want, are you the cutting edge vendor supplying a product they need, or are you one of a thousand other possibilities? You must determine who you want to be and how you want to be perceived. Once this has been accomplished, then it is time to begin building your brand.
Your reputation and the brand it is associated with must not be something that is decided on because it sounds fun or edgy. It must make sense for the industry you are a part of. Being the edgy rebel may sound great, but if the industry you serve tends to be more conservative, then you will be less likely to resonate and more likely to fail. You need to be relevant to your customers and consistent in the message that connects with them. They need to feel like your business understands what they need and that you will be there for them consistently. If your brand or branding style keeps changing they may leave to find a “safer” vendor.
Once you have your brand set then it is time to start building it up. This is really where consistency really matters, because a truly successful brand is one that is built over time. Make sure that the products and services you are offering fit in with the style you are trying to present. If you are trying to present an image of concern for the environment, then offer products that reflect that image. If you promote your company as being friendly and helpful, make sure your employees are as well. Customers can easily determine if you are the real deal or just playing a game.
Now that you’ve determined who you are as a business and the message you want to convey, it is time to work on the visual aspects of your brand, the most important of which is the logo. The logo is what will ignite the feeling a customer has for your company when they see it. A good logo needs to be simple and uncomplicated. You don’t want to confuse people as to what you do or who you are. If you have a color scheme in mind, make sure that color is represented throughout the company. Email signatures, catalogs, flyers… anything that is communicated outside and inside the company must be consistent.
As we mentioned in the previous post, it is imperative to have buy-in from all members of your team. Everyone from sales and customer service, to shipping and production, must believe in the brand and what is being created. Ultimately, they will be responsible for making your brand a success, and if your own employees aren’t sold on the message, then how can you expect your customers to be?
In the next installment, we will look at how Trodat can help you with developing your brand.
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