Branding. For some it’s a necessary evil and doesn’t go much further than a half baked logo slapped onto a letterhead.
For others it’s a religion, seeping into every aspect of communication, strategy and consumer engagement.
We’ve all been terrorised at some point by an unyielding marketing manager flipping their lid about a misplaced logo, and wondered why on earth it matters so much.
As marketers we deal on the daily with businesses small and large who struggle with the concept of being ‘on brand’. And fair enough. You’ve got a job to do, and it’s not resizing logos or fine-tuning your company vernacular, right?
Wrong, (well, kind of). The beauty of branding is when it’s thought out and executed properly, a huge portion of your day to day selling and engagement is done for you, giving you more time to focus on your service. Sounding a little more appealing? Here are 5 non-negotiables that will boost your branding and its effectiveness:
1. Go beyond the logo: create a story for your brand
It’s not enough to have a random slap and dash designer concoct a logo; you need to know what your logo stands for. We don’t mean what each line, curve and colour of the logo represents (although that doesn’t go astray, expert design is essential) – we mean knowing what values and qualities consumers will think of when they see your logo.
Think of what you stand for.
● What do you want to say?
● What are your core values?
Even for sole traders this exercise is imperative in knowing what you can offer that’s different from your competitors. Is it integrity? Is it innovation? Is it as simple as friendliness?
Just as we don’t purely connect with people because of their face, nor do we simply connect with brands because of their colour. Experience and story is where the loyalty lies.
2. Talk the talk – create your brand voice
Once you’ve figured out what your story is, it’s time to tell it. There’s no point in coming up with a kick arse story and steadfast values if your website, social media and customer comms sound like they’ve been spat out the end of a corporate copy machine (unless of course that’s what you’re going for, then by all means carry on). Create a brand vocabulary that emulates the values you’ve identified.
3. Rework your copy
Rework your website copy, any standard or automated communications, profiles, collateral and anything else you can think of that speaks on your behalf. Use your new vocab and values to guide you.
Have you identified you’re a youthful, innovative and cheeky clothing company? Then scrap the plain speak – use some relevant pop culture terms, update your vocab and take the serious tones down.
Or maybe you’re a diligent, traditional and family orientated building company? Use wholesome, no fuss words that create an image of a trustworthy, straight forward no BS handyman.
When you talk the talk of your brand identity, your words will resonate long after your audience has stopped reading. If you don’t have the skill, time or experience within your team, outsource to an experienced brand strategist or copywriter, the investment is worth it.
4. Be consistent and engaging
One of the most common areas of branding businesses fail in is consistency. Nail down some solid processes and guidelines that dictate your visual and voice style, and stick to it.
There’s no point putting in the time and effort to boost your branding if you turn around and paste cliche sales speak all over your social media.
Keep consistent in your social media engagement including responding to comments and messages and engaging influencers.
5. Practice your brand
This one can be a little controversial, and often hard to enforce within teams, but it’s undoubtedly the one that pays off the most. Branding can’t be just consumer facing, it has to be embodied in all of your professional interactions including with suppliers and partners.
Any behaviour that has a logo attached to it will contribute to your brand perception. This includes staff wearing logos on their shirts, emails with branded signatures, a phone conversation on a business line.
Brand culture comes hand in hand with company culture, and just as sure as a superstar marketing team can build a golden brand, rogue staff and a negative culture can tear it down.
Educate your teams on the importance of branding and keep them incentivised to practice it.