We all recognise the importance of branding, but do we really understand what it is?
Essentially, a brand is the way a company or product is publicly seen and the associations people make with it. It can be expressed as a logo, a slogan (“the real thing”, for instance), or the abstract feeling of confidence that makes us pay more than for another identical product. It can even be something as vague as a combination of colours.
The Ingredients of a Brand
- Unique selling point — The questions at the heart of any brand. Who are you and why do you exist? What is it that makes you the only solution to your target customer’s needs and wants?
- Values — What do you believe in? It could be superior service, ecological responsibility, or selling your products as cheaply as possible, but it’s vital people associate you with the values your brand expresses.
- Vision — Whether it’s Microsoft’s “a computer in every home” or making your company the go-to supplier for your niche, you can’t have a confident brand unless you know where you want to go.
- Personality — What sort of company are you? Punctilious and formal, or relaxed and friendly? The way you want your customers to see you is an essential part of your branding.
What Do Your Customers Want?
All marketing and selling comes down to finding out what potential customers want and providing it for them, and this applies to creating your brand as much as to making a sales pitch.
What do people want from you? Use research and surveys to find out, and put that at the heart of your branding strategy, from your logo design to your slogans.
Make the Right Associations
A big company can create positive associations through sponsorships or advertising campaigns with celebrities, but that’s beyond most of us. What we can do, though, is to create memorable images that will make the associations we want in people’s minds.
The choice of colours is important, for instance. because specific colours tend to evoke specific emotions. A logo is a way of showing who you are. What appears on the logo must be instantly recognisable, and instantly associated with you and no-one else.
The most important thing about branding is that it should be ubiquitous. Use your logo and your colours everywhere, from your website to staff uniforms. If you have a slogan or catchphrase, use that too.
The whole aim is that, wherever your brand appears, your target customers immediately think of you. And they remember how much they need you.