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 Branding?
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?
One of the primary benefits of good branding is, of course, recognition.
With recognition comes familiarity, and with familiarity comes trust. When customers trust your business for reliability and quality, they become loyal customers, and loyal customers are the core of your clientele.
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.
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 among the competition. If a compelling story is 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.
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!