What makes you pick a product over another? What drives your preferences and choices?
Why Kelloggs over store own brand? Apple over Microsoft? Rolex over Casio?
The answer is simple, Branding!
Each of these brands probably conjured an image in your mind. Good or bad. Cheap or expensive.
However for every amazing piece of branding there is a lot of awful branding. A LOT!
I have a theory about this.
I think it’s because people don’t truly understand what branding is and that when they establish their business they don’t spend enough time thinking about how they want to present themselves.
From there they quickly establish their work and begin their business.
That is usually where the branding exercise ends. Usually with some ideas tacked on and an organic process of evolution to a branding comes alive.
Over time this image in the customers mind and the image you present forms your “brand”.
This normally ends up being disjointed, ineffective, confusing, and conflicting.
With that it becomes harder to market yourself and as a result your brand becomes awful.
It’s all in the image and story
Your brand is a story at heart. It’s the story you tell people in the way you talk, the product you offer, the service you provide and so much more.
From there you have your imagery. What does your story look like?
Colourful, playful, and bright? Stylish, minimalist, and sleek?
Whatever you decide you should match your story with your image. And your image with your story.
Having consistency across your branding is the best foundation to make sure that your company is clear and recognisable to the consumer.
The first step
Positive image + Consistent story + standing out = An amazing brand
Combatting crap branding can be broken down into three steps:
- Think and lay out a brand strategy
- Establish a great brand identity
- Market that identity throughout all of your business
When you think about your brand you will need a strategy to go along with your identity.
How do you want be perceived? How do you want customers to think about you? What do you want your customers to say about you?
List out how you are different, why you are different, what makes you trustworthy/memorable/likeable.
Don’t forget to think about your competitors either. Think about how you will stand apart from them.
What do they do right? What do they do wrong?
A great exercise for discovering the deep purpose and core value for your business and it’s offering is the 5 Why’s exercise.
Answering these questions will help you to understand and convey your purpose, promises, and how you solve problems for people.
This is THE first step you need to take when creating a brand from the ground up (whether you are just starting or already established).
You wouldn’t build a home without a blueprint or plans, right?
It’s the same with your brand.
You can think of brand strategy as the blueprint for how you want the world to see your business.
You are also probably saying right now – What’s the point in all of this?
Do you think the stories or images you have in your head regarding Apple, Microsoft, Coca Cola, Red Bull, Kelloggs or any of the others happened by chance?
They happen because they reinforce this image and story everywhere and from that we begin to believe in their brand.
The same time and effort should be thought of in your own brand.
The brand building process never stops.
Your brand should be visible and reflected in everything that your customer can see, read, and hear.
Every single place your customer might interact with your business in any way should have a consistent and well thought out brand.
If a client walks into your office, or a customer walks into your store—your brand image should be on display both in the environment and with personal interactions.
Your digital presence such as your website and social media should all show what your values are and how you want to be seen.
Finally, anything tangible–from business cards to advertisements, to packaging and product. If they can touch it or have it handed to them it needs your branding (be it through colours, wording, or just appearance).
As a merchandise expert and branding consultant, that piece is particularly close to my heart.
What I see all the time is people leaving things like branded merchandising as an afterthought.
This needs to be part of your marketing strategy and given just as much time and care as your digital platforms and other marketing strategies.
What it all comes down to
The vast majority of the time what it all comes down to is having a little thought behind what you do.
Thinking carefully about your business and how you want to be perceived will pay off in the long run.
It only pays off truly however with consistency. Maintaining your brand image and keeping it consistent will in the end build familiarity, credibility, trust, and make your marketing and sales easier.
Applying this thought and consistency to all aspects of your brand and business will make it great. And maybe, just maybe, you can be as recognisable as the brands we’ve mentioned.