Branding is everything. We might all chant the mantra ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’, but consumer behavior shows that’s rarely the case when it comes to spending. And, if you’re a business, it’s worth spending time heeding this behavior. A strong brand evokes memories, drives customer loyalty, and allows people to build an emotional connection with your products and services. According to the The Globe and Mail, “the ways in which we build and express our personal brands are undergoing a revolution thanks to the Internet and social media.” But it’s not as easy as creating a twitter account and letting it rip. Understanding your own brand might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s shocking how often employees – or even business owners – lack clarity on the messages and motivations that underpin the ethos. In business, your brand’s ‘personality’ must be communicated in all that you do. And, in an increasingly crowded marketplace, it’s more important than ever to get creative.
Live Your Brand, Love Your Brand
John Williams reporting from Entrepreneur, says that “while company brand equity is certainly important, the significance of making yourself an integral part of your company’s brand shouldn’t be overlooked as a key to success.” The most successful businesses communicate their brand in all they do. Define your company mantra and live by it. If you can’t explain what your brand offers in a single snappy sentence, go back to the drawing board and get it honed. Keep it in mind at all times, whether networking, selling, interacting online or communicating with staff and peers. You’ll find that having that increased clarity in explaining your brand to others will help you understand it yourself and drive it forward in a passionate manner.
Pitch Your Personality
Don’t be afraid to be quirky. It’s unlikely your brand offers something completely unique, so do it differently – and do it better. Imbue your brand with a personality so that it resonates with the right clients and stands out from your competitors. Identify what’s important to your customers and bring your brand’s ‘character’ in line with their values. In a crowded marketplace where there’s an awful lot of corporate noise, an instantly identifiable brand ‘voice’ will be heard louder and clearer, and has the ability to drown out the rest.
Your branding should be visible on anything that provides a platform to communicate with your customers. Such a powerful tool must be well-designed and well-executed. Human beings are visually-led, so ensure your brand’s visual communications are knockout. Use focus groups and customer feedback to inform your choices and decisions.
You must never underestimate the potential power of everything from your font choice, to logo design, to the specific shade of colour you pick. If budget is limited and you’re confident of your own abilities, have a go yourself. If not, approach local colleges or universities and enlist a student with skills in the area.
Creative ways to be seen
Most companies, no matter how small, get their name or logo printed on some form of promotional material. Having something other than a business card to hand out often goes a long way to getting your business noticed. Will Thomas from Tuxedo Prepaid says that “when Sainsbury’s came to us for their Everyday Money Card, it was a thrill to see this big brand flex their creative muscles. Putting your name on a prepaid card is a great way to associate your business with the act of shopping and the satisfaction of spending. Whether you’re a corporation or small business, imagine the impact of having your logo seen every time someone reaches inside their wallet.” While getting your brand on a prepaid card might not be appropriate for your particular business, it shows that thinking outside the box will open new opportunities, that perhaps haven’t been used before. Think bigger and better than pens and magnets. Consider the items that surround your business and the life of your customers and ask yourself – ‘can we put our name on it?’
Social Media Stunts
Social media Twitter and Facebook allow you to interact directly with the influential people who could make or break your brand, be they high-profile celebrities or simply members of the public with opinions and buying power. As a brand, you want to build and retain a loyal online following. Make sure all your content is relevant and consider how you can add value to your customers’ lives – perhaps offering small and exclusive rewards for loyalty or sharing your brand news further.
SocialMediaToday published some staggering figures regarding the fight for attention surrounding London’s 2012 Olympics. According to the article, Nike stole the show from the official sponsors Adidas, with their clever social media campaign that got Nike “more than 16,000 tweets associated the word Nike with the word Olympic compared to 9,295 for Adidas. Furthermore, Nike attracted 166,718 new facebook fans versus Adidas’s meer 80,761.”
Keep abreast of how other brands are harnessing social media to cause a big splash and think how best you can create your own storm. If you dream up a winning idea that goes viral, your brand could go stratospheric, but even modest success with an online campaign or event can bring big rewards. Social media is one of the best avenues for building brand awareness for little or no financial outlay, and the most powerful brands harness its power.
Get out there
Get out of your usual company environment and literally do something ‘out there’ and unexpected. Announce a spur-of-the-moment sale or get-together online, hand out promotional goodies outside a local train station. If you have a retail shop or food business, hit the streets with a one-off promotional pop-up.
If you usually meet with multiple clients in an office environment, invite them for a company picnic in the park. Sign up with colleagues for a charity challenge. Whatever you opt for, make sure you’re taking the opportunity to build brand awareness by aiming for maximum visibility – put up posters, don company colors, distribute branded gifts and materials…and have fun with it.
Research people and businesses whose values and motivations match your own, but whose brands inhabit a slightly different area of your industry. Once you’ve pinpointed a few, brainstorm how you could collaborate creatively to bring mutual benefit for both your brands. It might involve having them use and endorse your products or vice versa; or working together on a common brief or project. Working with a partner could inspire innovation in your own brand’s future endeavors, and will open up and expose you to a wide new audience potentially receptive to your services and messages.
With years of writing about personal finance, Gavin Whittaker loves to take his knowledge to other areas of interest. Based in London, Gavin explores his love of finance through articles ranging from debt solutions to forex markets, sharing tips on budgeting, banking safety and new technologies along the way.