Any successful business needs to provide a high-quality product or service as a foundation. However, to establish and maintain a presence in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, you need something more: brand identity.
To stand apart from the competition and build a loyal customer base, brand identity (or branding) is critical. If your business lacks a persuasive and distinctive identity, it may be modestly successful, but it’s not going to reach its full potential.
What Is a Brand?
Many people think that logo and brand are the same thing, but that’s a misconception. A logo is a huge part of your branding, but it isn’t all.
Simply stated, branding is your company’s persona. A good logo provides instant recognition and reminds people about what you do, but your branding does more than that. What are your missions and values? What unique experience do you provide? What’s your story?
In effect, your brand identity distinguishes you from the rest of your field, and that’s why branding is so powerful.
What Are the Benefits of Effective Branding?
While it may seem like enough to simply provide a great product or service, your business is also going to need to create a really great brand if it is going to succeed in the marketplace. Here are some of the benefits effective branding can provide.
Increased brand recognition. One of the primary benefits of good branding is, of course, recognition.
Credibility. With recognition comes familiarity, and with familiarity comes trust.
Customer loyalty. When customers trust your business for reliability and quality, they become loyal customers, and loyal customers are the core of your clientele.
Better word of mouth marketing.Loyal customers aren’t just beneficial to your business because they continue to generate sales. Their loyalty makes them more likely to recommend your business to other people, and they’re also more likely to share the word about you on social media. Therefore, loyal customers help you expand your reach and your clientele, and it starts with branding.
A positive company culture. Branding is not just a benefit in terms of customers and sales. The identity branding builds can instill pride in employees who feel that they’re a part of something that matters. As a result, you’ll see higher morale, improved retention, increased productivity, and better customer service. Bonus: those employees may also promote your business to others, helping you reach a larger audience the way loyal customers do.
How Can I Create Effective Branding for My Business?
There are several steps you can take to develop and project your branding.
Get To Know Your Audience
Who are your target customers? Think about age, values, interests, and more. Knowing your audience helps you develop branding that appeals to them.
Establish Your Company’s Personality and How You Are Different
A business can have a character or a theme. Language and imagery reflecting that create persona and voice, individualizing your company from the competition. If a compelling story is a part of who you are, remember to share it, as it will help form a connection between your company and your audience. Also, let people know how your product or service provides a better value than your competitors do. Tell them what makes your business unique.
Watch What the Competition Is Doing
Understanding your competitors’ branding helps you make your own different or better.
Create Your Logo
Although we’ve already covered the influence of your logo, we want to add that your logo isn’t just on your product and your website. Your company’s image is also going to be in your advertising, on your business cards, and, if you have a brick-and-mortar presence, there as well. Your logo has to be something eye-catching that people will remember for the right reasons.
Strive for Consistency
Whether it’s your ads, emails, social media presence, or your website, using consistent messaging, templates, and tone is important. It helps customers know what to expect, and it helps prevent confusion.
Make Effective Use of Social Media
You can promote your brand on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms as a way to regularly connect with existing and potential customers directly. This organic process also encourages sharing. Doing this effectively means knowing which platforms your audience uses most and the times of day usage is heaviest. That helps you avoid wasting time and money reaching out to people who aren’t even there.
Don’t Commit Unforced Errors
Mistakes always happen, but a lot of them are avoidable given some foresight and planning. For example, always be clear. If you’re confusing people about what you’re providing, they’re going to look somewhere else. People like authenticity, so don’t try to be a knockoff brand, which might also spare you some expensive legal issues. If you have both online and in-person presence, make sure branding is consistent for both.
Monitor, Monitor, Monitor
Successful branding is a constantly ongoing process. You can monitor the effectiveness of your branding online in a number of ways. On your website, you can track which pages are getting the most traffic and which ones have higher bounce rates. What’s your feedback like? Keep up with reviews, surveys, and direct communication on a regular basis to know how customers are responding. Also, stay on top of the way your branding is going on social media. Constant monitoring is definitely committing, but it lets you make adjustments in a timely manner so that you don’t fall behind the rest of the field.
Branding Mistakes to Avoid
We’ve gone over some of the things you can do to start creating an effective brand, but let’s look at some of the mistakes companies make when creating their brand, so that you can avoid a branding disaster.
Chances are, you’ve seen bad branding yourself out in the wild, perhaps in the form of terrible signage, or a truly bad logo. Maybe you’ve second-guessed the credibility of a company whose messaging is all over the place. Sometimes we notice bad branding without even realizing what it is; all we know is, we don’t want to do business there.
Here are some branding mistakes to avoid.
Underestimating the importance of a good logo. Yes, we say this all the time, but a good logo can make or break your brand. It is the face of your company, and it is your first impression 99.99% of the time (okay, not an official statistic, but we’re pretty sure it’s correct). If you don’t have a logo, it is worth agonizing over this to get it right. If you do have a logo, but haven’t updated it in a while, consider revamping it to keep your brand fresh. However, it’s important to resist the temptation to change your logo too frequently or too drastically, as this can harm the integrity of your brand.
Having a sloppy site that is riddled with mistakes. Nothing breaks a customer’s trust quite like spelling errors or broken backlinks. It’s worth taking the time to go over your content with a fine tooth comb on a regular basis to ensure that your information is correct, functional and free from spelling and grammar errors.
Ignoring customer service. The experience of your customers should be just as much a part of your brand as any marketing strategies you’ve employed. Under no circumstances should you simply let things take their course when it comes to customer interactions. Every aspect of customer relations should be overseen by your brand and company strategy. Building a strong and consistent customer service culture should be one of the foremost goals of your brand.
Not paying attention to feedback. As tempting as it may be to ignore negative comments or unfavorable public opinions, this type of feedback needs to be taken seriously. Sure, there may actually be some trolls out there just looking to get under your skin, but most likely, people are communicating real, honest opinions about your brand. Ultimately it works in your favor to listen and respond to them. It may be that you truly need to make some changes to your branding that could save your business.
Rebranding in an attempt to save face. One example of this branding mistake was attempted by one of America’s most hated companies, Comcast. Knowing that they had developed a reputation for having some of the worst customer service known to humankind, their solution was to simply rebrand. Perhaps the idea was that folks wouldn’t know they were dealing with Comcast if they changed their name to Xfinity. Naturally, this didn’t work, at least it hasn’t so far. People are not so easily fooled.
Veering too far off course as you expand. No matter what direction your brand goes, it’s important to keep your messaging consistent. This reassures your customers that your company remains the same as they’ve always known it to be. Take Facebook’s recent rebranding attempt, for example. Not a popular move, and it remains to be seen how it will positively affect their brand going forward, but it is certainly not reassuring the public that their motives toward them are true and honest.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but we hope we’ve helped you understand the importance of effective branding, and given you some great tips on what to do, and what to avoid.
Without effective branding, a business struggles to stay visible, relevant, and competitive. Successful branding establishes identity, builds trust and loyalty, and expands a business’s reach. It’s a lot of work, and none of it’s easy. If, though, you think about the ways branding works for highly successful companies (Nike and Starbucks are two great examples), you can see what a powerful tool branding can be.
If it all seems overwhelming, don’t worry. Professional marketing firms that specialize in branding and logo design are ready to work with you every step of the way. You’re not in this alone!