People are increasingly being bombarded by advertising messages. Which means it’s going to take something rather special for a brand to stand out among the clutter. Tracey Dooley aims to help you just do that — regardless of whether you are just starting out or want to give your brand a new lease of life. If nothing else, it should help you really think about what you want to achieve over the next six months…
Now that it’s officially spring (meteorologically speaking; astronomically, it’s not for another 10 days) and the sun has finally arrived, many of us have turned to ‘spring cleaning’ our homes. But when was the last time you took a long, hard look at your branding?
What’s that you’re saying? Branding is just for big corporations? Rubbish! It’s vital for ALL businesses. Really, every business, no matter how small, MUST have a recognisable brand. (Yours probably does; you may not just know it does.)
Moreover, it’s important to evaluate your brand from time to time give it a ‘spring clean’, so to speak. And with the UK economy just about intact (albeit a little fragile at the time of writing), now is the time for us all to consider sprucing ourselves up with a bit of fresh branding if only to let people know that we are still here . . . that we are surviving these challenging economic circumstances.
Now, before we go any further, let’s just get one thing straight: Your logo is NOT your brand. Rather, it is just ONE element of your overall branding.
So what exactly is branding?
Simply put, a brand exists in the ASSOCIATIONS your clients or customers have with it. And branding is about getting your prospective customers to see you as the ONLY one that provides a solution to their problem, want, need or desire. That means making sure everything you say, do or write supports that objective.
Here are six ways to help your business on the way to becoming a successful brand — whether you are re-vamping your current branding or just starting out:
1. Are You Conveying REAL Value? Is your brand ‘promise’ resonating with prospects and customers? Is it delivering the way you want it to? In other words, does the customer experience equal their expectation?
You need to make sure what you are offering and what you stand for are enticing enough to differentiate you from the competition. Think about what your target customers want from your product or service and that your competitors can’t provide. Then make a compelling claim about whatever it is and BACK IT UP to create brand trust and brand loyalty. And always, always deliver on your promises.
2. Are You Making the Best Use of Your Words? If you can clearly and compellingly communicate your value to prospects in fewer than 20 words, then skip this part. If not, read on.
Your words those that you use on your website, in your brochures and for other branding materials should establish a relationship with prospects by relaying the benefits of your product or service. These benefits can be emotional, functional or self expressive. So instead of simply stating you’re a life coach, for example, focus instead on what unique benefits you provide. It might be that you specialise in self-confidence coaching, or perhaps your USP (unique selling proposition) is that you also offer nutritional advice, thereby offering a distinctive holistic approach.
3. Are the Visual Aspects of Your Brand Making the Right Impression? Because the consumer mindset equates quality promotional materials with a quality product or service, it goes without saying that quality materials speak volumes about your business. It is not accidental that ‘posh’ or big-name restaurants have fancy signs, business cards and even menus; all reinforcing the same message of supreme quality. It would be difficult to sell a high-quality dining experience with homemade flyer stapled to a telegraph pole. In that vein, the look and feel of your branding materials should consistently, accurately and effectively reflect your brand and give it ‘life’.
NB: Before you change the entire direction of your design, take heed of an advertising adage that says by the time you are tired of your ‘look’, other people (including your prospects) are just starting to notice it. So don’t drastically change things. A simple logo change, but keeping the same colours, or modifying your slogan, may suffice in making your brand feel fresh without losing its original appeal.
4. Are You Up to Date? It makes sense to ensure all product information, pricing, ordering procedures, delivery policies, etc, are up to date. But you’d be amazed at how many out-of-date materials are out there. This morning, I followed a link to an elapsed (by two years!) limited-time offer being advertised. That sort of oversight can do more harm than good for a business brand.
5. Are You Being Consistent? Consistency is one of the best ways to establish trust in any marketplace. So make sure all your marketing materials convey the same look and feel that includes your core messaging and the tone of your wording. Of course, they don’t need to be a complete match, but when viewed side by side your stationery, website and other materials should form a cohesive ‘family’. One that preferably has an appealing image and so is able to evoke the desired emotional response in your prospect’s mind. Remember, awareness and recognition are key drivers to a growing business.
6. Are You Social Enough? Studies showed that the adoption by businesses of social media more than doubled during 2010-2011, and this year looks set to continue the trend. Have you a consistent, relevant and distinctive presence on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? I personally find Twitter to be one of the most effective ways to build my brands. With no less than almost 200 million ‘tweets’ or messages created every day and approximately 100 million active users [sources: Twitter, eDiscovery], you really should give it a go before the revolution is over.
Twitter enables you to easily monitor what is being said about you and your business via its inbuilt search engine. So if you come across inaccurate or negative information about your company, you have the opportunity of redress. And remember, everything you say and do on social media sites BECOMES your brand.
Many companies are increasingly using Twitter for creating or raising brand awareness, as well as reaching prospects by providing valuable links and information. If that sounds like your competition, why aren’t you doing the same? If you are, then perhaps it’s time to assess what is and isn’t working or even start something new altogether.
Branding is an essential tool in delivering company profitability. By periodically reviewing your branding, as well as your other marketing strategies, you should create a strong ‘personality’ that gets the right message to the right audience … which can ultimately lead to sales and business growth.
By Tracey Dooley, Copywriter | Editor | Proofreader
Got your USP nailed down but having a difficult time marketing it? Then consider a ‘power coaching’ session. I can give you everything you need to know in order to create a compelling USP, positioning statement or marketing message that will appeal to the best customers for you — plus LOTS of other crucial techniques to help you fill your sales pipeline. You can read more about my marketing consulting programmes — including one-off sessions — at:
(Why struggle needlessly when you can get expert affordable mentoring and have fun attracting clients easily?)
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