A mere whiff of the word branding is enough to drive fear into the hearts of many business people. News stories come to mind of global corporations blowing the GDP of a third world country on redesigning their logo only to have it look just like the old one, or to change the colour of their store fronts because, “green is so ‘90s”. However, branding’s bad press is largely undeserved. In fact, it’s a vital element of any business.
Branding might sound a bit vague, but it’s not rocket science. The term originates from the days when farmers would brand their livestock with a red hot iron to let them and everyone else know which animals were theirs. In some ways not much has changed. Today businesses brand any visible element of their company so that their customers, partners and suppliers recognise them instantly, and half the hard work is already done. Think of any successful company and the chances are you’ll know what their logo looks like, what their corporate colours are, and probably a bit about what they stand for (or what they would like you to think they stand for, anyway). In today’s competitive environment, without a consistent brand it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to succeed.
So how do you go about building a brand that works? Here are 10 tips to help you.
Keep it simple. Focus on a small number of your key selling points and values and stick to them.
Be consistent. Make sure every aspect of your business has one look and feel.
Think about your customers. Make sure your branding matches what your customers are looking for.
Take control. A brand can lose its focus if too many people are involved. Assign a person or team to manage the brand.
Communicate your brand. Every time you get in touch with your customers, by post, email or face to face, make sure your branding is consistent.
Be honest. Branding can be useful for focusing on certain elements of your business but stay true to your core values.
Think beyond the logo. Branding is more than putting your logo on all your marketing materials (although this is important). Think about how your communications with your customers reflect your company and what it has to offer.
Be flexible. Your brand should be versatile enough to evolve with your business, while still being recognisable.
Involve employees. A brand only works if the whole company understands it and believes in it.
Live up to your brand. Every time you don’t, your brand becomes weaker.
Above all, make sure your brand reflects how you want your business to be perceived. If you know your company’s selling points and understand what it is your customers really want, you’re already halfway there. The rest comes down to good design.