What Do You Do and Who Do You Do It For – Uncovering the Keys to Your Brand
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Brand can be a really fuzzy concept. Plenty of small business owners think that brand = their logo. They’re not necessarily wrong, since a logo is part of an overall brand. But what many don’t know is that their overall brand is a whole lot more. What I hope to break down in this article is explain a little bit more about what is included in an overall brand as well as how to get started with branding (especially if you’re a new small business or if you’re an existing business but never put a lot of thought into your brand). This is in no way an exhaustive source, but more of a quick primer to get you started off on the right foot.
What is a brand?
30 seconds on Google and you can pull up a hundred different quotes on brand and branding … like this one from entrepreneur, author, and speaker Seth Godin:
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
That’s actually one of the better ones because a lot of them can add to the overall fuzziness and misunderstanding, but it still falls short of giving you some concrete examples of what is included in a brand, so I’ll try and elaborate on that. Basically, there are tangible and intangible elements.
Aspects of Your Brand (in no particular order):
- Visual: logos, illustrations, symbols, design, signs, colors, fonts or typography … basically all elements that you can actually see
- Personality: just like a person, a company can have a personality and customers often associate the brand with these personality traits
- Emotional: feelings your company evokes in people when interacting with your company, your employees, at your physical locations, online … basically, when people interact with your company, those interactions can often provoke an emotion (this is often categorized as “Perception”)
- Values: also just like a person, a company can have a set of values it stands by
- Reputation: your company’s reputation in the marketplace … basically how the public sees your company based on their personal experience with your company (whether direct or indirect).
- Positioning: basically, how your company fits within your industry and how you differentiate from others in your industry
- Voice: not to overuse the human analogy, but it really is helpful to draw that similarity because at the end of the day, it is people behind a company … so the “voice” of your company includes the tone of voice in everything you do, from your marketing to actually interacting with customers at the various touch points (online, in person, etc.)
- Storytelling: this can combine a number of different aspects such as the emotional, positioning, values and voice … basically this is where you tell your story which connects with your audience. Sidenote: I found this great resource on Storytelling in branding by Storysoft that could be a helpful read.
All of these together can be lumped under Brand Identity or overall branding.
Some Basic Keys
When approaching branding your small business, it’s helpful to keep these 5 points in mind:
- Keep it simple – complicating things can literally complicate your overall brand and confuse your target audience
- Keep it credible – don’t over promise and under deliver and by all means, don’t get creative with the truth
- Keep it unique – you have to find a way to differentiate your small business from others offering the same products/services
- Keep it memorable – getting your audience to remember you is essential
- Keep it inspiring – this is reaching your audience at an emotional level
Answering Key Questions
This is really the meat and potatoes here. Answering these basic questions might be easy or it might be difficult, but it’s important to answer them. Putting some serious thought into it as this is the basis for your brand strategy (aka long-term goals for your business and brand) as well as your overall business marketing.
- What industry are you in?
- What do you do? What are your products/services?
- What is your story?
- Who do you do it for?
- Why do you do what you do?
- What do you stand for? What are your core values?
- What benefits do you deliver? What value do you deliver to your customers?
- What sets you apart? How are you unique? What do you offer that others don’t?
- What is the proof (credibility)? What are the reasons why someone would believe in your company’s services/products?
- If you’re an existing company, what do your existing customers love about you?
Additional resources on branding:
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