Branding is simply the way others view your company. Although there are things you can do to shape the vision, you only have so much control over the way others see you. The reason why focusing on branding is so important is in the way it shapes your company values. Strong branding changes who you are at the core and makes a lasting impression.
In an Edelman consumer survey, 81% of people said they have to trust a brand before they buy from it. Branding helps you know who you are and present a consistent message. Consumers are more likely to trust you if you remain the same across platforms and ads.
Your brand strategies impact everything from marketing efforts to customer service. Focusing on the way you want the outside world to see you can even impact the causes you embrace and how you treat your staff.
Fortunately, you can incorporate branding into everything you do. Here are some top tips to get started.
1. Choose a Motto
What is the core value system of your business? Your motto should tie into your deepest beliefs. Look at the reasons you wanted to start the company in the first place. Perhaps you wanted to help single parents or fulfill a need in the community.
Your motto should describe what you do and the benefit to the customer. Think it over carefully, because it also needs to be short. Every word must count.
2. Revamp Your Office Space
Does your office space show your branding to employees? When you reinforce your values, your staff will be more focused and feel a sense of purpose. There are many ways of accomplishing a branded work environment.
Add sayings to the walls to motivate. Add displays showing big goals you’re seeking or have already met. Have some employee sayings, such as that the customer is your number one priority or your workers are like family.
What types of things might best motivate your workers? If your brand claims to have a great company culture, does the layout reflect the statement? Do you have spaces for employees to gather? Perhaps you add a free coffee station in the lobby.
3. Embrace a Cause
When you understand what your company stands for, you’ll also know which causes you believe in. If you pride yourself on being a green company, then local conservation may be at the top of your list.
You can reinforce your brand personality with the things you invest your time and effort in. For example, you might let staff volunteer at a local animal shelter, adopt an office feline, and run a local marathon to raise money for the rescue organization.
4. Create a Strong UVP
There are over 31 million small businesses in the United States. No matter what industry you’re in, you likely have others in your sphere of influence. One of the best ways to stand out against your competition is with a unique value proposition (UVP).
Look at what the competition claims for a UVP. How are you different? You should consider what your customers care about as well as what makes you stand out. Once you have a UVP, use it in all your marketing messages, on your website, and to shape your customer service philosophy.
5. Start with the Inside
Brands with strong name recognition tend to have a solid foundation. You have to understand who you are and what demographic your customers fit into in order to shape your company.
Start by creating buyer personas. You must understand your audience to see how they view you as a company. Create your brand’s style guide. Choose colors based on emotions you’d like to evoke in your clients. Set some standards, so you create a consistent look and feel for your brand.
Make sure your company culture is positive and drives your employees to go above and beyond for consumers. Make sure you’re healthy on the inside, so the outside of your business glows.
6. Get Active on Social
The majority of adults in developed countries are on one social media platform or another. If you want to drive your brand’s growth, you need a plan for your social media presence.
Use the same brand strategy you use for your website and in-person promotions on social. Take the time to engage users. Target a specific audience you know is likely to respond to your efforts.
You need a mix of both organic and paid exposure on social media. Create content your followers want to share while reaching new clients through well-placed ads.
7. Be the Expert
What expertise do you bring to your industry no one else does? Take the time to cultivate specialized knowledge. Share it with others via articles, infographics, videos, and webinars. The more people see you as the authority on a topic, the more likely they are to think of you when they run into an issue and need a solution.
Think about the pain points your target audience deals with. What are the emotions behind them? How can you fix each issue for your users?
8. Fix Past Mistakes
When you want people to see your company in a particular light, it is frustrating to discover your brand image might not match the way you’d like people to think of you. In the life of every company, mistakes happen.
Part of your branding efforts should include fixing any past mistakes. Learn how to improve customer service, repair product mishaps, and refine your message. If necessary, hire a reputation management firm to help you clean up poor reviews and do better going forward.
Focus on Your Vision
While you can’t completely control how others see you, it is possible to set some goals for your brand. Think about the brand image you want to put forward. Make sure every aspect of what you do ties into your vision.
Paying attention to your branding helps shape everything you do. If you want to be seen as a customer-centric company, your branding will drive your messaging, and the messaging will change your training. You may even find you attract like-minded candidates to jobs. Branding takes a lot of time and effort but should be at the core of everything.
About the Author:
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the director at a marketing agency before becoming a freelance web designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.