We are not big proponents of brand marketing for the sake of getting your brand seen more. In fact, most brand marketing is a waste of money when compared to the practicality of direct response marketing for most small businesses.
That said, branding can still be important for reinforcing ideas that prospects and customers already have about you. Your brand helps build “top of mind” awareness and trust, both of which lead to higher long-term sales. Here’s how to build your brand to get these benefits…
Identify Your Brand’s Feeling
A brand is about the feeling you want your customers to experience when they think about or use your products or services. Ask yourself these questions:
- What emotions do my products or services naturally evoke?
- What emotions would I like my customers to feel when using my products or services?
- What emotions are important to my audience?
- What emotions do my competitors’ brands evoke?
- Which emotions are a good fit with my product, services, company culture, and overall business?
Here are ways to determine which emotions are important to your audience:
- Brainstorm. Sometimes common sense tells you which emotions are appropriate for a product or service and which are not appropriate.
Let’s suppose you’re selling baby products. It makes absolutely no sense to create a brand based on a feeling of power, as most people don’t associate this feeling with babies. Common sense tells you that emotions such as joy, love and security are a much better fit for baby-related products.
- Ask your customers what they think of or how they feel when they use your product.
Note: the key here is to be sure you’re asking open-ended questions that aren’t skewed in any way. In other words, you don’t want to create leading questions. Oftentimes people who take surveys tell you what they think you want to hear (they’re people pleasers), or they’re simply susceptible to suggestion. You want to make sure your questions are neutral/unbiased.
- Let me give you an exaggerated example. Imagine if you created a question like this: “Many customers feel joy when they use this product. Do you feel joy too?”
This is a leading question, because you’re going to have a higher-than normal percentage of people saying yes because they want to conform and be like others who feel joy.
Instead, you can simply ask: “What sort of emotions do you experience when you use this product?” or, “How do you feel when you use this product?”
That way, you aren’t leading people to a specific answer.
- Eavesdrop on your prospects. Read their product reviews, group discussions, and blog comments to get a sense of what’s important to your broader audience.
- For example, let’s suppose you’re selling fitness-related products. You might read reviews on Amazon for similar products. Perhaps you’ll discover customers talking about feeling healthier, more attractive, or even happier when they’re using the products.
- You can also go offline to learn more about how people feel. For example, if you’re selling fitness equipment, then you might go to a gym, workout alongside your market, and casually talk to people who’re using the equipment. This will give you some insight into how they feel or how they want to feel.
Here’s the next step in building your brand…
Illustrate Your Brand
Once you know the feeling you want your brand to evoke, then it’s time to illustrate this feeling with colors, a logo, and a slogan.
- Designate colors to reflect your branding. These colors will appear on your logo and throughout your business.
If you’re not sure what colors work to reflect your branding, then look around at other well-known brands. For example, if you’re looking at how to represent decadence/indulgence, then check out a company like Godiva. Or if you’re looking at how to represent love/security, then check out companies like Pampers (which sell diapers).
- Design a logo that reflects your brand. Hire a professional logo designer for best results.
TIP: To find a designer, you can search Google for “logo designer.” You can also post on a freelancing site such as upwork.com or freelancer.com. Or you might try a specialty site such as 99Designs.com, which lets you run contests that get multiple designers competing to create your logo.
- Draft a slogan that captures your brand’s feeling. Your slogan should be succinct and compelling by sharing a main benefit. Once again, it’s a good idea to turn to a professional if you struggle with this step.
Note: for inspiration, look at popular real-life slogans both past and present. For example:
- We try harder.
- Fly the friendly skies.
- Mountain-grown coffee.
- Better ingredients, better pizza.
- Develop your branding. You may want to test different branding strategies to see which ones your audience responds to the best.
- A focus group or survey will give you some insight into what your audience wants. However, the best way to determine what really works is by letting your target market vote with their wallets. This means running a/b split-tests to see which branding gets people taking out their wallets more often.
- For example, you might set up two identical sales pages for a product, with the ONLY difference between these two pages being your branding (colors/logo). You can then see which branding your audience responds to the best. Now the next component of building your brand…
Integrate Your Branding
Once your branding is complete, then you’ll want to build brand awareness by integrating it throughout your business.
- Design your website with your branding in mind. Be sure your web developer is well aware of your branding so that he or she can create a design that best reflects your business.
- Install your branding into your product packaging. In other words, use your colors, fonts and logos within your product shots, ecovers, etc.
- Train customer service staff to reflect your branding, where appropriate. For example, if your branding is based around making people feel special, then be sure your customer service staff treats every prospect or customer as if they are the most important customer.
- Include your branding on your social media pages. This includes posting your branding in your cover or profile photos, as well as mentioning your slogan in your “about” blurbs.
- Reflect your brand (where applicable) into all your social media posts, blog articles and other content.
For example, if your brand is built around sharing cutting-edge information, then your content ought to reflect the latest advances in your niche.
Another example: if your branding is built around quick solutions for busy people, then be sure your content is succinct so that it doesn’t take much time to consume. In addition, you’ll also want to be sure you offer the quickest, easiest solutions that will provide great results for your target audience.
Special Note: If you employ outsourced writers to create your content, then be sure you brief them on how to properly reflect your branding in every piece of content they create for you.
- Inject your brand into your advertising campaigns. Your branding should be reflected in both your advertising graphics (such as banner ads and videos) as well as in the content itself, where applicable.
Again, if you’re hiring copywriters, graphic designers or other third parties to create your content, then be sure these freelancers are briefed on the best way to reflect your branding.
- Create business cards, flyers, advertising specialties, and other physical items with your branding. For example, you might attend a niche expo and hand out ad specialties such as pens that include your logo, colors, and branding.
- Develop products that fit with your overall brand. Let’s suppose you run a business selling software. If your branding is based around using technology to make people’s lives easier, then your product planning phase should include determining if a product idea will fit in with this branding.
- Host webinars that integrate your brand. If you create a slide presentation as part of your webinar, be sure the slide deck includes your branding. If you do a screen-share, then you might want to change your computer wallpaper to your logo.
- Brand videos and other materials with your logo, slogan, and colors. For example, if you create slide presentations for SlideShare.net, then be sure your template integrates your branding. And, as always, be sure the content itself is reflective of your branding.
The point here is to make sure your branding seeps into every part of your business. Even when all you’re doing is jotting off a quick email to your mailing list, you want to check that it reflects your branding.
Take note that your branding shouldn’t be limited only to the places where your prospects and customers will see it. Your branding should be deeply integrated into your business so that everyone is aware of it. This includes:
- Reflecting your branding when you’re talking to marketing partners, such as strategic or joint venture partners.
- Integrating your branding into your physical office space. If you’re the only person working the business, that’s okay – integrating your branding into your office space helps you keep your branding at the forefront of your mind. However, it’s especially important for your branding to be visible if you have employees working out of your office and/or you have customers visiting.
However, one instance where you’ll want to avoid reflecting your branding is in your market research, such as customer surveys. That’s because your branding could skew your results.
Invest time in developing your branding strategy, as this effort will pay off over the long term.