It’s not just big businesses that benefit from branding. Brand identity can help both small businesses and individuals find the success they desire.
Branding isn’t just about your logo and choice of colours; it’s about sharing the same values as your customers, being trustworthy and creating a positive experience. If you feel you need to brush up in this area, here are 10 branding tips to get you started.
Know what makes you different
What is your unique selling point (USP)? What makes you different from other similar businesses? If you have trouble answering these questions you may want to consider specialising in a certain area. For example, a pet groomer might specialise in a certain dog breed or a creative style of clipping. A vet might specialise in animal physical therapy.
It’s not just about qualifications though. You can set yourself or your business apart from competitors by the quality of your service, the way in which you communicate or level of professionalism.
Do your research
This shouldn’t be a rushed job. There’s no point in doing research for the sake of research. Come up with a list of questions relevant to your industry and that may impact your business and find the answers. Research your competition, but also research your audience. Know where they hang out. Build a profile of your target audience, as this will help you tailor your marketing and guide your brand identity.
Identify your mission
What drives your brand? A tagline is a great way to promote your mission or objective and encourage people to join your movement or to engage with your brand. Think of your brand as a person – what are its beliefs, values and aims?
Often brands and businesses might start out with a clear set of aims or a solid mission but over time these can change or the business runs off course. So don’t write these down and then shove them in a filing cabinet, never to see the light of day again.
Refer back to them at the end of each year to see how you’re progressing or frame them and hang them on the wall so they act as a constant driver and reminder.
Know your target audience
Make sure you have a clear concept of who your customer is. This way you can build a brand that will appeal to your target audience. This will likely impact your design and logo, where you advertise and even the platforms on which you communicate.
If you’re targeting the over 50s you’re probably not going to use Snapchat, for example, to promote your brand. But, if you want to capture the 20+ market, Snapchat might be a good bet.
Ensure your business name is clear
I don’t mean make sure the font is readable, make certain that your business name clearly reflects what it is that you do. Potential customers should be able to instantly identify what it is you do or what service you offer. In other words, forget using ambiguous brand names for the sake or being clever.
And if you can’t immediately think of a brand name, don’t panic. Take your time to find the best brand name for your business.
Look left of centre
Think outside the box. Consider how you can make your brand that bit different. Look for gaps in the market. Identify ways in which you can stand out in a competitive marketplace. Don’t just focus on the Australian market; look globally too – even if it’s just for inspiration.
However, don’t copy others you feel are successful. Differentiate yourself. Find your own diverse identity or tell a different story.
How we dress says something about who we are and our personality. Think about the ways in which you intend to promote your business. Will you be using digital and print marketing? Will you communicate via different social media platforms? Are you hoping to develop branded merchandise? Consider all the different circumstances in which your brand might appear and make sure that your design and logo are fluid enough to be used in different ways. For example, if you intend to have a stall at a dog show, will your logo be clearly read on a banner? Does it lend itself to merchandising?
Know your strengths and weaknesses
We all have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to business. Don’t try and do everything yourself. Hire experts to fill the gaps. Be it a copywriters, photographer or marketing professional, look at what you can confidently do yourself and identify the areas where you fall short.
Okay, so you might not be able to afford to hire a bunch of experts from the off but as the business grows look at where the gaps need filling to help you reach the next level.
Authenticity is essential for building a trusted brand. Even when you’re flying solo, for example you’re a professional pet sitter or dog groomer, it’s important for clients to get a true sense of who you are.
After all, no one wants to leave their beloved animal with someone they don’t know or trust. It’s important to be social and build connections with people.
Focus on the entire experience
It’s easy to concentrate on the product or the service and while these things are certainly important — they’re not the only parts of a successful business. Imagine going to a restaurant and having the most amazing food but the service is terrible and the restaurant itself is dirty. You probably won’t go back or recommend it to others.
Similarly, you might come across a veterinary clinic that hires the best vets in the business but the reception staff are rude and the waiting room is unpleasant.
Great branding is about the entire experience. Every aspect of the business should relate back to the core aims and company mission. So don’t get too caught up focusing on just one aspect or a single branding tip – look at the bigger picture.
Indeed, when you mention branding the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is logo. Yet it’s important to remember that this is just one aspect of a branding.
According to Forbes, ‘branding is about more than just recognisability. It’s about the impact that you have on a customer and how it sends a message.’
Branding tip 101: be thoughtful and be consistent. And don’t forget the old saying, which still stand true today – “first impressions count!”
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