Branding can mean a lot of things. A logo and a slogan are only two of those things.
Think of Canadian Tire. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me it rhymes with Happy Tire. That’s also branding. All the small things someone associates with your company, add up to an impression. Good or bad, that impression is part of your brand.
All you can do is try your best to create a brand that inspires good feelings in people. Here are five branding basics we’ve put together to help you make an impression.
1. Define your brand. Who are you?
It’s a simple question that goes deeper than your company’s products or services.
That means if you’re the only store in Ottawa that sells Vuvuzelas, and only Vuvuzelas, you still have to ask: What is it about your company that makes it…it?
What do your customers say about you? What would you like them to say? Once you’ve got these answers, refine them into a branding statement.
This can be a sentence that describes who you are as a company, what unique thing you have to offer customers, and how you’d like your company to be seen.
Write out the sentence. Then rewrite it (it’ll take a few cracks). Once you’ve hit on what could possibly describe your company only, you’ve got something to stand behind. This brand statement can then become a guiding principle of your company.
2. Define your target audience. Who are you talking to?
Vuvuzelas aren’t for everyone. So, who are the people that can’t live without them? Once you’ve got a picture of your customers, take it another step. What are their interests aside from creating a tortured sound with an instrument?
Maybe they’re also big hockey fans or play hockey themselves. Are there opportunities where you could meet their other interests, such as selling your Vuvuzelas at local hockey games or sponsoring a rink hockey tournament?
The more you know about who is buying your product or service, the better you can understand how your company can serve them better. And the stronger your branding.
3. Define your brand voice. How do you talk?
You’ve defined your brand identity. Now it’s time to sort out how your brand speaks. Would it be funny? Silly? More serious?
Think of your friends. Each one has a different personality and may have a defining trait. The same goes for branding. What single trait stands out for the kind of company you are?
Based on that trait, how would you communicate to your customers? It doesn’t have to be funny or smart for the sake of it. It only has to be uniquely you.
4. Define your logo. What do you wear?
You know your business’ identity and you’ve got a distinct brand voice. Now what would someone with these two things look like?
At this stage it may be useful to hire a graphic designer to help you create a logo and come up with your brand colours. There’s no special formula. All that matters is that your colours and logo are based on your company’s brand identity and brand voice.
Paisley turquoise with a hint of yellow? Go for it.
5. Be yourself
Okay. You’ve got a brand identity, a brand voice, plus a cool looking logo dressed up in some splashy colours.
Now the hard part: staying consistent with your branding. That means sticking to your brand with how you serve customers, how you talk with customers and what you stand for as a business.
Staying “on brand” can be tough. At some point you may be tempted to get new customers by appealing to them differently. This might seem like a good thing to do in the moment, but in the long-term it may hurt your brand.
Refer back to your brand statement again and again to remind yourself how your company is unique. Plus, get the added reminder that your branding helped your business get to where it is. This can help keep you on track.
We hope these tips have helpful. Good luck with your branding!