What’s in a name? The answer depends on what you’re naming, and why you’re doing it, of course. The best brands are ones that help their owners stand out from the crowd, creating easy-to-remember and easy-to-understand associations between themselves and the products or services they represent. Here are some practical steps you can take to build a lasting brand that represents your business well and helps it stand out from the crowd.
The Importance of Brand Management
No matter how great your products are, if people don’t know about them, you won’t make any money. You might have a stellar product line that rivals other brands—but if no one knows about it, your business will go nowhere. The same goes for your personal brand—if people don’t recognize you for who you are and what you do, then you won’t get ahead in business or life.
Brand management is vital to success in any industry. If you can properly manage your reputation, then you can build upon it so that others want to work with you. Of course, there are ways to tarnish or sully a reputation as well. So always be conscious of how others perceive your brand (and try not to give them reason to start dissing you).
Establishing your brand
What makes you different? What will your audience see, and instantly recognize, when they see/hear/read about you? Make sure every brand touchpoint—your logo, business cards, websites, social media pages—reflects those values and really stands out among competitors as authentic. Once people understand what you stand for, they’ll be more likely to come back for more. And that’s what it’s all about!
When you nail down how you want to represent yourself (and stick with it!), think of how much easier marketing becomes. You have a clear vision for who you are and what your brand is about; now, simply share that message with potential customers. Be consistent across platforms—tell them why they should love you (as if there were any question)—and watch as things take off from there. Your job is simply to stay true to your mission and provide something valuable in exchange for their time and loyalty. If a particular project doesn’t resonate with these goals, don’t force it!
Maintaining your brand
Once you’ve started building your brand, it’s important to keep tabs on it. After all, as a business owner you never want to lose sight of your vision and values—and a weak identity can result in that happening. So if you’re not certain what your brand represents or what makes it unique, try writing out its mission statement. It may be helpful to take some time thinking about how others see your company too.
The easiest way to do that is by taking customer surveys or interviewing people who interact with your business regularly (customers, employees etc.) Who are they? What do they think about what you offer? Take note of their feedback and use it along with existing resources like advertising campaigns or website content as input for how you should think about maintaining your brand moving forward. Look at other businesses in your industry and think about whether their brands are similar to yours. Even within small niches there are often distinct sub-categories; make sure yours fits into one nicely. If necessary, spend some time planning new marketing strategies that will help strengthen your position within each category.
The Do’s and Don’ts
Here are a few things to keep in mind while developing your brand:
Do – Be unique.
Don’t – Don’t try to be everything to everyone and also, don’t change your identity just because a new trend comes along.
Do – Make sure that you have a story or some history behind your brand and can illustrate why people should choose it over others.
Don’t – Overcomplicate your branding!
Good brands become great when they find their own special niche. Think Nike and Apple. Are they great because of how different they are? No, they’re great because of how consistent their brand is, how closely tied together all their products are. Also, there are no hard rules here; sometimes it makes sense to take risks with brand direction, but do so knowing full well what you’re getting into. Taking risks doesn’t necessarily mean trying something bold and new; maybe simply shifting priorities so your image becomes stronger where before it was weak will do wonders for your company.
Always keep in mind, “Branding is more than creating a name, logo, and slogan—it’s about creating an experience from which value emerges.”