What Is A Brand?
Do you know what defines a brand? We all know brands, especially famous, internationally-known brands such as Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Google. But do you know how to build and develop your own brand into one just as effective and memorable, if not quite as famous? The easiest way to conceptualize a brand is to think of the impression your clients walk away with after doing business with you – it essentially represents the heart and soul of an organization.
What Is A Brand Message?
A brand is more than just a logo; it’s the message that your logo conveys to your customers. When it comes to branding, it’s important to develop each element of your brand, including your brand elements, by focusing on how you want to make your customers feel and the overall message you want to convey about your business. This message must also present an honest portrayal of your business, as it ultimately represents the total experience of doing business with you – from the moment the customer comes into your life until they finish working with you. It is the feeling left in their mind about your business, and if you intentionally misrepresent yourself with your brand, your customers may feel misled and even betrayed. No matter how big or small your business or organization may be, if you do not take control and develop your own brand, your brand will be left to be defined by your customers.
What Is Brand Strategy?
A brand, even an effective and memorable brand, is much more than its colors, fonts, and images. To truly make your brand work for your business, it’s important to develop a comprehensive brand strategy that will bring it to life within your business and motivate your employees. Brand strategy is the creation of clear and specific plans and actions. By seeing your business from an outside perspective and analyzing the ways your customers interact with your employees, your website, and other facets of your business, you can create an experience worthy of your brand. Make sure that your brand experience communicates your passion for your industry and what makes you unique. Once properly developed, these plans and actions will ultimately allow you to improve your competitiveness and boost your position and reputation in the marketplace.
Making your brand come to life in the digital world can be a challenge. The centerpiece of your online brand must be a persona that fits your brand strategy, connects with your target market, and is perceived by your target market as authentic, honest, and trustworthy – in other words, human! This is accomplished by developing a consistent narrative on your website, including your images, colors, fonts, words, and headlines. What you say and how you say it, and more importantly, how you make your visitors feel will be the true test of whether or not this persona is both authentic and an accurate representation of your brand.
Here’s a few tips and things to think about when brainstorming about what you need to do to create your online brand.
SHOW your company culture
- Your company stands for something, and that should be conveyed when developing a website or interacting with your customers. Communicating your company values helps humanize your brand and demonstrates to your customers that you care about more than just closing sales and making money.
- Use words, images, and a brand voice that is consistent with your in-person customer experience, and vice versa. Your employees should be conveying your brand values to your customers with each and every interaction.
PROVIDE the information and solutions your potential clients are looking for
- Your customers are seeking answers and solutions to a problem, but what exactly is that problem, and do you have the best and most useful answer? Make sure you have those answers and show you understand your potential clients.
- Be sure to have relevant and useful information readily available as your customer looks for solutions.
COMFORT and INSPIRE your customers as they search for answers, let them know you understand them!
- Use words and provide information that helps to predict your potential customer’s questions, even if they’re not cognizant of the exact questions they should be asking!
- Keep them on your website and engaged as long as you can!
- Provide different ways and methods to provide the answers they’re seeking, especially if your target market is not technologically savvy.
ENSURE your site uses the right technology
- Make sure your website is usable and aesthetically pleasing on a wide variety of screen sizes and devices.
- Ensure that your website is fast and reliable.
- Check the usability of your website, and make sure that vital information such as your phone number, address, and hours of operation are readily available.
HUMANIZE your business and build TRUST and CREDIBILITY
- Don’t be too modest or shy – prominently display the logos of organizations and industry credentials associated with you and your business on your site.
- Share customer testimonials and reviews.
- Personalize your site with photos of your staff, your products, and your shop. Your brand will be much more effective when customers can see a human side to your business.
- Be sure to connect and prominently display links to your company blog and social media accounts and pages to your website, and ensure that your accounts are regularly updated with new content that is interesting and relevant to your target market!
- Develop and implement social engagement rules as part of your brand strategy, which will ensure that all updates and posts that go out on your blog and social channels are consistent, regardless of who is managing the channels.
- Be very specific about DO’s and DON’T’s for social media posting – even one unprofessional or erroneous post can “live forever” on the Internet.
- Last but certainly not least, create a set of rules and guidelines for bad reviews and posts. It’s absolutely vital that you do not allow your personal emotions to cause your professionalism and brand strategy to break down in the face of negative or even defamatory comments on your company pages or on external review sites.