When it comes to building a successful brand you have to look beyond a cool logo and funky website design and instead, turn your attention to the bigger picture.
Most companies fail when it comes to building up a successful brand. This is because most company owners are simply clueless when it comes to what it takes to build a successful brand and often struggle to create and maintain a clear vision.
Most business owners also have the mistake of viewing branding as being simply visual. They work hard to create a great logo, stunning website and attention grabbing ad copy, but they forget that the most important part is focusing on the less tangible aspects of their brand.
This includes your brand’s culture, your team, your employees, what you stand for and how your brand operates.
Having a successful brand is more about having a voice that can convey and communicate what your brand is all about with very little effort.
In fact, creating a successful brand is about aligning how your customers see you with how you want to be seen. When this is out of alignment, many businesses fail or struggle to generate sales and customers.
Creating the ultimate brand is truly about creating a solid vision and having your customers understand and resonate with that vision.
If you want to assess the quality of your branding strategy or you are looking to establish your brand, here is how to begin….
1. Assess How People See You
The only way to effectively determine whether your brand strategy is working is to ask others how they perceive your brand.
As founder and chairman of the matchmaking firm PCBA, Paul Brunson states-
“The interesting thing about your personal brand is it is never what you say it is, its actually what everyone else says it is. Therefore, the first place to begin in the building and growth of your brand is to know what people think of you.”
When you are first getting started, it can be hard to know what other people think of you, but try looking at what you have created and see what theme or feeling it may convey.
Assess the colours, font and copy of your website, look at the images you use. All of these elements may give you some idea as to how others may perceive you.
If you have an established brand, try googling your brand name or asking your employees or friends to weigh in on how they perceive your brand. If it matches with what your goal is, then you are on the right track. If it doesn’t you may have to reconsider your message.
2. Develop Your Company Culture
The branding of your company truly starts internally. This means that the way you hire your staff, the environment you operate in and the way you delegate things to your employees is all going to shape the culture of your company and brand.
Just look at the popular American retail chain, “The Container Store”. Their company culture has become part of their brand as they pride themselves on offering their employees high salaries and excellent working conditions. This has helped to turn their brand into a trusted and respected store that people feel good about shopping at.
On the same token, you have a store like Walmart. Even though it is one of the most lucrative retail chains in the world, the employees often complain about being treated badly and are paid a measly wage. This has caused many people to boycott the company and this too has created part of their branding image.
Popular tech companies like Apple and Google also have a strong company culture that is infused into their brand and while this may take years to create, it is better to start sooner rather than later.
3. Build Your Brand Online
Even if you have a brick and mortar store, building your brand online is really where it is all at. If you don’t have an online presence, people are less likely to trust you and are less likely to even know you exist.
When it comes to building your brand online, there are many things to consider from your website to your social media posts and everything in between.
This is where visual branding is important and will help to create the tone and essence of your brand. While this includes thinking about the colours, fonts and images that you use, it is also about knowing where to focus your attention.
As digital strategist, Jeff Bullas states-
“Build your own online platform such as a blog or website that you want, then amplify your content and engage with your audience on social networks. Use LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, or even Pinterest and Instagram. You have options find what social network resonates with you.”
Depending on the type of branding image you are creating, it may not be necessary to be on certain social media platforms. So think about what image you want to create before starting on any social media sites, or before running any social media campaigns.
Content marketing is also extremely important when it comes to creating the overall feel of your brand. It may work for your brand image to offer long, detailed blog posts or it may work to offer easy to read infographics. Either way, you need to focus on your vision and stick with it.
Using an authentic and unique voice when it comes to your copy is also important, along with creating a memorable tagline and mission statement.
4. Be Consistent and Stay Connected
Your brand is like the DNA of your company and should be infused in everything you do. This means that everything your company does should be consistent and harmonious with your branding image.
If you are a personal brand, this includes ensuring that everything from the clothes you wear to the choices you make in hair product should be aligned with your brand. For other brands, this includes ensuring that everything from your blog posts to your marketing campaigns contain some essence of your brand.
For example, Amazon weaves their branding into everything they do by shipping Amazon branded boxes, to offering Amazon branded subscription services and Amazon branded products. It is all of this combined that helps customers to know that Amazon is a trusted online retailer that can deliver things quickly, safely and efficiently.
As Hannah Fleishman from Hubspot states-
“All of your communications and marketing assets should tell your brand’s story.”
5. Create Value in Everything You Do
Having a killer brand can go a long way in helping to drive sales, but you also have to ensure that your branding efforts convey the value of your products or services as well.
This means that you need to weave the benefits of what your company offers into your branding strategy. For example, take Apple. They have created a lifestyle around their products, however consumers also know that their products are state of the art, ultra modern and the latest in technology.
Even walking into their stores, seeing their displays, Tv commercials and website, Apple is able to convey their branding message as well as convey the benefits of their products.
In order to do this for your own business, think about-
- What sets your company apart from your competitors?
- What is the main point of value for your customers?
- What is the main feature of your products or services?
- What value does your brand offer that is different from your competitors?
- How do your benefits appeal to your target audiences emotions?
These questions will help you to infuse the benefits and value of your company into all your branding efforts.
6. Associate Yourself With Other Strong Brands
The people you surround yourself with not only shape part of who you are but also reflect on who you are. Business is the same, and the brands that you align yourself with will also play a role in how you are perceived.
As CEO and founder of Marketing Zen, Shama Hyder states-
“Your personal brand is strengthened or weakened by your connectio to other brands. Find and leverage stronger brands which can elevate your own personal brand.”
A good example of this comes from the driving app Uber, who has teamed up with BMW to offer passengers a free ride in one of their luxury Series 7 cars.
By teaming up with BMW, Uber is able to convey the message that they can offer a unique and luxury experience while still offering a common convenience at a reasonable rate.
Another way to team up with other brands is to reach out to influencers in your field and allow them to promote your products or services. The influencer that you reach out to will have their own brand, and coupled with yours, this will help to create a powerful image.
Influencers can also have a strong impact on brand loyalty as well. According to Jay, Heinrichs, a best-selling author-
“If you like someone’s opinion you are more likely to follow it. Influencers can have a huge effect on brand loyalty. Even if you are a small brand you can significantly increase the size of a small audience by finding relatively small influencers.”
7. Seek Help from a Professional
When it comes to running your business you can’t expect to be good at everything. Branding takes time and strategy to build, so perhaps consider seeking professional help if you are stuck or unsure of where to begin.
Remember, companies like Nike, Target and Lexus have strong brands because they have spent the money to create them. They came from small beginnings just like any company does, but were able to rise up due to the fact they had a strong brand that was able to speak and resonate with their customers.
If hiring a professional is out of your budget, you can create a simple strategy to start off with. This includes working out:
- How your company is different from your competitors and what sets you apart
- Who your target audience is and how you can best cater to their needs
- What your personality in your industry will be
- The trends in your industry and what your competitors are doing
- The expectations you have for your brand as a whole and the people working for you
- Your customer satisfaction policy
- Your mission statement and what your company stands for
At the core, a good branding strategy will highlight one to two of the most important elements of your products or services, describe your company’s ultimate purpose as a whole and will define your target customer.
Coming up with a slogan or tagline can also be a great place to start when it comes to evolving your brand strategy. To help you with this, think about some of the popular slogans from existing brands. For example, Nike’s is “Just Do it”, Apple’s is “Think Different”, and so on.
8. Be Patient When it Comes to Brand Building
Building a solid brand takes time, so be patient with your efforts and don’t be afraid to tweak things along the way.
Try new strategies, continue growing and building upon what you have and see where it all leads you.
Part of building a brand is also about building trust, and this also takes time to establish with customers, followers and clients.
9. Build Brand Awareness
Building brand awareness is about educating your followers and reach about your company, what you stand for and what you have to offer.
There are many ways to do this, but some of our favourite strategies include-
- Using a referral or rewards program
- Creating different content styles to appeal to a wider audience (eg. slides and infographics)
- Offering a free trial, free sample or a freebie of some kind
- Offering something of value such as a blog, ebook etc.
- Partnering with similar businesses or influencers
- Advertising in your community or where your target audience frequents
- Running a promotion or giveaway
- Using branded hashtags
- Hosting a podcast or webinar
All of these strategies can help to build brand awareness and over time, will help your brand to get increased exposure and recognition.
10. Focus on Goals Not Tools
The final step when it comes to creating a truly successful and awesome brand is to focus on your ultimate goals rather than the tools you have available.
This means that at the heart of all your strategies and campaigns, you are ensuring that they serve a higher purpose and are helping your company to achieve an ultimate goal.
To create a brand that is focused around your goals, it is important to think about-
- Defining your business and what your objectives are
- Ensuring that your team is working together, is on the same page and is passionate about your company
- Developing a strategy that is actionable and geared to help you succeed in any situation
- Empowering your team for success and helping to build a strong corporate culture
- Learning your industry and what your customers really want
- Creating value for your customers by offering them what they want
- Sharing your ideas, blog posts and content with your community and followers
- Networking with others in your industry to achieve common goals
- Building and fostering growth by acknowledging your customers
- Measuring and analysing the success of your campaigns and strategies in how they measure against your goals and vision
Once you have started to build your brand and shape the vision for your company, you will slowly see how all the pieces start to fit together.
In order to create a successful brand you also have to keep boosting and tweaking things when it comes to building your brand.
To help you with this, we have a great checklist of ways to boost your brand that you can use at any stage of your brand building process.
31 Ways to Boost Your Brand
- Ensure that you make a good first impression every time
- Be Consistent
- Listen to your customers and encourage feedback
- Design a great logo and tagline
- Be transparent and honest always
- Print your logo everywhere (boxes, letterheads, emails etc.)
- Highlight the benefits of your business
- Establish trust internally with your staff and with your customers
- Convey a clear message
- Display your brand’s colours on all marketing material
- Become a genuine authority in your field
- Have a long term vision
- Stand out from your competitors
- Include your employees on the vision of your brand
- Grow your brand together with your business, not independently
- Define your goals and ensure you stick to them
- Create a great pitch when it comes to what your company stands for
- Be flexible and keep testing
- Repeat your message over and over again until it sticks
- Make your company focused on your target audience and customers
- Offer a back story to your brand or business
- Be instantly recognisable across all social media platforms and ads
- Make regular contact with your customers
- Use social media in a way that benefits the building of your brand
- Create a professional looking website
- Establish relationships with other brands
- Offer your followers promotional giveaways and freebies
- Integrate your branding strategy across everything you do
- Network at events in your industry or community
- Continue to learn and grow
- Promote your achievements as a way to build trust and authority
These ways to boost your brand are simple and will help you stay on track when it comes to building a successful company.
Finally, the last part of this guide is going to include things to avoid when it comes to building your brand.
8 Things to Avoid When It Comes to Building Your Brand
1. Not Investing in Branding to Begin With: spending time and money into building a signature brand identity is going to help you generate sales and develop a strong company in the long run. Even if you don’t have the budget, it is important to at least have a branding plan.
2. Not Using Your Own Voice: if you want to be an authority in your field you have to use your voice when it comes to writing your blog posts and creating any copy for your site. When you use your own voice you not only help to build your brand but you also attract people who are going to resonate with you and what you have to offer. In the long run this leads to happier customers and more loyal clients.
3. Having a Clear Target Audience: this is going to help you ensure that you are catering your marketing and branding vision to the right people. In the long run this will help your target audience turn into paying customers.
4. Waiting to be Perfect: nothing about your brand or business is ever going to be 100 percent perfect, there is always going to be room for improvement, so don’t wait! Get started sooner rather than later.
5. Being All Over the Place on Social Media: stick to 1-2 platforms and do them really well, rather than getting caught up in being on all of them. This will also help to ensure that your branding is cleaner and more relevant to your audience.
6. Worrying Too Much About Your Competition: you want to stand out from your competition but you also want to be unique and offer who you are as well. Getting a combination of this works best. Don’t sacrifice your own vision just because someone else is already doing it.
7. Partnering with the Wrong People: who you choose to surround yourself with can definitely impact on your business and the success of your brand. You want to ensure that your team is just as dedicated and passionate as you are.
8. Not Believing in Yourself: when you believe in yourself and your brand, it gives you the momentum and energy to move forward and actually create a business and brand that you are proud of.
Building a successful brand is so much more than just a bold logo. By following this guide, you will be well on your way to ensuring that your brand is one of today and the future.