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Branding – what is it, and do you need it?

Branding – You Need It!

You DO need it!  Branding is the combination of things that you do to make yourself and your company a unique presence.  It’s your company story and personalityit’s how your customers perceive you.  It’s what triggers their emotions to NEED you.

This is the first of a four-part series, and you are going to want to tune in to my next two blogs for the MOST IMPORTANT elements of building your brand– things only a very few people truly “get”.  Just click on the category list to the right for the next blogs.

Photo of branded materials

Creation Visual Merchandising, Australia. Their company creates unique visual displays for modern retail spaces.

Here’s what makes up your branding:  your name, logo, tagline/slogan, and the colors and designs that you use, fonts, marketing, your uniforms, giveaways, plus any fun/interesting ideas you have to get people to notice you AND to remember you. Here’s the most important issue: how you get people to feel about your brand.

If you are a one-person company – meaning that you are marketing yourself, like an attorney, coach, psychologist, speaker, writer, etc – you not only need branding for your company image but for yourself as well.  That’s called “personal branding.”  I will have a posting on personal branding as the third element of this 3-part series (sign up on the right side of this page if you want to be informed by email when I post it).

So, how do you come up with branding if you don’t have any?  First, check out your competition to see what they are doing so that you can position yourself correctly to capture the customers you want. (Which means that you’ll need to know some basic demographics about your customers, of course.) Then, Adrianne Glowski of Technori says this:

Develop your message and differentiate     “… At the heart of every successful business is a unique way of solving someone’s problem or providing a service in a way that no one else can. That is what branding is about: making sure you set yourself apart from everything else that’s out there—and making sure people know who you are, what you do, and why they should care.

Branding Examples

Glass Wear – Contact Lens Makers
Note the look of purity and clarity

One of the first steps in the process is to figure out what your message is. This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out document; it can be one sentence if you’d like. What is the one feeling you continually want to convey? How are you different? You also have to decide how you want to position your business, products, as well as how your startup fits into the existing market space. Be sure to really think about this—it is the foundation for all other branding activities. Whatever you do, make sure your message is genuine. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.”

It’s not just your visuals. Your tagline and story and the essence of what makes your company different and great needs to be told consistently along with your visuals.  You and your employees need to be consistent in walking the walk – if you advertise “great customer service” or “lowest prices in town”, you must deliver it or your customers will feel betrayed.  That’ll mean continuing to research your competition so that you maintain your branding edge.

Examples of brandingYour brand may evolve.  Whether you’re a young company or an established one, you’ll constantly be “refreshing” your look to keep from looking tired or dated.  A slightly new take on something that you have been doing can mean that you catch your customers’ eyes again.

Some friends of mine started a company using forest green as their main web accent color, but recently they prepared a powerpoint and gave me a goodie bag, and their look has been refreshed and revitalized using a very upbeat new color–chartreuse—but still in the green family.  And they have added a little guy that makes their businesslike presentation more fun.

So think on these things:

  1. What is my competition doing, and how can I differentiate?
  2. How are my customers going to feel when they buy my product or service – (safe, pretty, happy, sexy)?
  3. What will appeal directly to my customers’ hearts and sense of style?  (Come up with the images that will portray you correctly–think message, colors, fonts, youth, conservative, jazzy, homey, romantic, hard-edged, masculine, etc) Remember, only take advice on this from someone within the demographics of your customers.  If you are NOT within the same demographics of your ideal customer, seek professional advice from people who are — why take a chance?  (Example:  male business owner of a women’s retail chain.)

Today’s post is just the basics of branding — the next three posts are going to give you some incredibly important information on branding that will reach out and grab your customers.  

To read other articles on branding:

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