Branding business is more than developing a logo. Branding encompasses all of the brand experiences from how it looks and sounds, to what it offers, and how it handles customers. Everything – yes, everything – your company or blog does is branding. So you really need to define your company branding if you want it to be at least a bit successful.
Why do you need to define your company’s brand? There are a few reasons:
Consistent branding evokes a sense of trust;
Would you trust a person who is clearly confused on what they do, what they believe in and what they stand for? Especially if you meet this person for the first time and they ask for your money? Didn’t think so.
It creates a feeling of brand community;
When your branding is strong and evident in everything you do, your brand becomes much more aligned with your audience. Your audience now sees and feels that you do understand them, that you are, in fact, one of them. When they feel they can trust you AND that you understand their needs, they’ll happily give you their money.
It makes you a much more effective storyteller;
Again, once you’re clear on your branding and your brand story, you become much more effective in telling it and conveying a sense of authenticity.
It helps you navigate through the business world and make better decisions;
When you know what your brand stands for, it becomes that much easier to weed out projects and offers that do not align with your company’s goals or values. Anything that will serve as more distraction instead of strengthening your company will be automatically sent to the bin.
It helps you sell more (yup!).
When you know who you serve and how you help them, and are effective in conveying this message, you sell more. People just feel that instant connection with everything you do.
Now, let’s go through the questions that will help you brainstorm your branding strategies and create a strong brand presence without the need to pay up upwards of thousands of dollars. This list is divided into two major components of branding startegies: defining your business and defining the perfect target audience for it.
What am I good at?
It is only natural that you will succeed in something you are good at. Don’t start a business to be mediocre. Start a business where your potential will truly shine and where your talents will be used.
What do I do better than anyone else?
While, on the surface, these questions are similar, think about what you are good at versus what you’re really truly amazing at. Also, think about talents and skills you have versus what people love about you. It may be your storytelling abilities, your abilities to make someone feel special or uplift anyone’s spirits with your sense of humor.
What are my aspirations with this?
Think of the reasons behind why you want to start this specific business.
Who are my role models and why?
Do you have role models in the business world, or even, this industry? Think of why you admire them. What it is about their brand you love and trust?
What am I driven by?
You need to have an immense drive and passion for whatever it is you’re doing. The going can get tough and it’s only your drive that will propel you to move forward.
How can I market this?
Think about how you can best market your skills and expertise.
What should my product (line) be?
What products can you create based on these skills and knowledge? Is it tangible, informational, service-based or some combination of all three? For example, coaching is a mix of information and service-based business.
What is the common theme underlying all of my products?
There has to be some sort of theme or aspect that unites all of your products in a cohesive line.
What struggles / issues / needs does my product solve?
No one wants to buy anything that is not useful in some way. Think about what types of needs, wants or struggles your products can solve.
What’s the value that my offerings bring?
Let’s be honest, there are lots of similar products offered in almost any industry, any part of our lives. However, we have a tendency to choose the brands we use by associations and values we assign to them.
Who are the products for? Who is in my target audience?
No product serves any good without an audience. There has to be buyers and consumers for your products or services in order for your business to thrive.
What their demographics look like?
There is no such target audience as “everyone.” Even the products all of us use every day have their respective target audiences. So, define their age, location, interests, needs, aspirations, etc.
Does my product align with their needs and values?
This is important because people choose products based on what values they see in them.
What is their ultimate goal?
People in your audience strive to achieve something, whether it’s financial freedom, prosperous life or love. You need to understand their drives and desires.
What are their blocks in getting there?
If they haven’t achieved their goal, there has to be something in their way that acts as a block, whether mental, financial or physical. Identify what those blocks are to understand their struggles.
How can my product help them overcome these blocks?
To appeal to your audience, you have to tell and show them how your offering will help them overcome their blocks and, finally, achieve their goals.
How much would they be willing to spend to resolve blocks and issues?
The larger the block, the more money they are willing to spend to remove it. Another aspects to take into consideration are urgency, importance and alternatives.
What kind of experience should I provide?
Clearly, the brand experience has to be customer-centric, but what does it mean for each individual? It can encompass lots of sides, such as quick responses, throughout technical support, lenient return policy, courteous staff, easy setup, etc. Define everything that goes into an experience you’d like to create.
How is this experience different from everyone else in the industry?
This is what will set you apart from competition. Apple might be selling computers, just like any other tech company, but their buying experience is unique. Virgin Airlines are not the only airlines in the U.S., yet people get excited when they talk about Virgin. Starbucks might not be selling the best coffee in the world, yet they created an all-encompassing branding that cannot be confused with any other coffee shop.
Now we can put it all together into a visual identity for your brand:
What are the basic building blocks of my brand?
Think color palette, fonts, imagery, logos and slogans.
What kind of language, wording does my audience use when talking about their needs and values?
This is important because you have to talk in their terms and words to truly align yourself with them. When people read a solution to a problem that is stated in exact words as they’d put it, they instantly know they found the right solution.
How can I incorporate it in my branding? How can I show my understanding of their needs?
Again, every aspect of your branding has to show them you get them. Language, wording, humor and imagery – everything has to speak directly to them.
How can I strike up a conversation with them?
Think of what would get their attention. It can be a question, a striking image, a challenge, or a simple “we get it” message.
How can I show them that I am with them? How can they relate to my business?
Hopefully, this has been achieved with the right messaging, but focus on those details that truly drive a feeling of community and brand loyalty.
What is the mood of my business presence?
Some businesses have to be serious and somber, while some companies can get away with a little humor. Some companies appeal to its audience with playfulness and flirt. Others have to show their sense of style, glamour and hipness. Yet, other companies will not win any customers over if they are not progressive and forward-thinking enough.
What kind of aesthetic do they find appealing?
The mood of the business and its target audience will dictate aesthetics of your brand presence. Financial companies rarely find value in pink-colored websites and unicorns on their homepage. At the same time, companies who target hip urban youth would not want to use flash website that were trendy in 90s.
Where can I target them? What channels do they use and how I can take advantage of them?
To reach your ideal audience, you have to know where they are. You have to know what channels they use to get information and what types of content they prefer. You should also know which channels they trust the most.
How can I stay consistent across all channels?
This is a very important consideration to always have it in the back of your mind. Remember that confused person on a street asking for your money in the beginning of the post? Do not disqualify all of your hard work because your social channels, your website and TV commercials do not tie in into a cohesive image.
How do I know if it’s working? Define success.
Finally, to know where you are going and what you’re trying to achieve, define success. What will successful business look like? What level of sales do you expect? Will your product serve a small but exclusive niche of people or will everyone in the nation and their cat use your products? What will people say about your company? Think of all of this, because this will serve as a benchmark for your activities to see if you’re moving in the right direction.
As Seth Godin defines, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”
How do you define branding? How did you go about creating your brand identity? What questions would you add or omit? Share in the comment section below!