Branding for Beginners

What is a brand? Is it a name? A logo? Can a person be a brand? What about big name brands that sell products under different brand names? It’s all a bit of a minefield.

When you look up the word ‘brand’ in the Oxford Dictionary, there are a number of meanings. It can be the name of a product created under another particular name, it can refer to an identity or image, a particular type or kind of something or it can be a mark on burnt onto livestock. Ouch.

Looking past these definitions though, we believe a brand is more than all of that. It is a promise. A promise to your customer, a promise to yourself and a promise to the business you’ve worked so hard to create.

HOW DOES YOUR BRAND MAKE CLIENTS FEEL?

When people see your logo, they may recognise the company name or the service you sell. But how does that logo (your visual brand identity) make them feel? That’s the important thing. That feeling will either keep them coming back again and again or send them running towards the nearest laptop to Google your biggest rival.

We can wrap our products and services up in a pretty package (both literally and figuratively) but what if the items or services we deliver don’t match up to our brand promise?

Whether you’re a sole trader or an employer of ten or more staff, your brand promise is key to building your business and keeping your clients happy.

BUILD THE BRAND, KEEP THE PROMISE

Brand strategy is a fancy way of saying ‘brand promise’. It is everything from your logo, name and marketplace to the experience your client has when engaging with your company and your product or services.

A brand strategy needs to be consistent and constant. It is always advisable to think about the image you want to project and how you want to project it. Be careful, it’s not always about what you like and your tastes. It is always about your target audience.

For example, if you’re a wedding planner, your brand needs to speak to that hopeful couple about to make the biggest commitment of their lives. Your logo, your language and image should communicate love and romance for the traditional bride and groom. If you plan destination weddings, think about the images; tropical beaches, luxury hotels. Your brand promise needs to reassure your client that their biggest day is safe in your hands.

Simply put, your brand promise is what makes your service or product desirable. It’s why a customer will choose you over a rival.

OFFER THE TRUTH

So how do you go about keeping this promise? These are our three key points to consider when planning your brand strategy and keeping your promise:

  1. 1. Be consistent.
    Think Starbucks. As a customer you hope when you ask for a skinny latte with an extra shot, your product will be hot, strong and served relatively quickly. It isn’t good enough if you only get this nine times out of ten. The enormous success of Starbucks’ is that it delivers. Hot, strong and as fast as possible, every time. Would customers go back again and again if their coffee was lukewarm and took 15 minutes to make?
  2. 2. Be real.
    Making a brand promise is about creating an idea that is realistic and achievable. For example, when Amazon Prime launched its one-hour delivery service, it was only launched in areas the company could deliver to. This enabled them to keep their promise, even on a smaller scale than many online shoppers would like. Amazon is one of the most popular retailers online and has overtaken many high street stores. How? By delivering realistic timescales and good quality products.
  3. 3. Be worth it.
    If your brand is selling a product which promises to be far better than anything else on the market, price it accordingly. Give your customer value. Would you buy that £3,000 Prada handbag if the zip came loose after one wear? We certainly wouldn’t. Be objective about what you’re offering and think about the value your brand is adding.

POINTS TO REMEMBER

To define the term ‘brand’ is quite difficult as it is so much more than the logo and the visuals you’ve worked hard to create. It’s the content of your website, the way you speak to your customers, the story you tell. Its also your customer service and the client experience. All these elements tie together to create your brand’s reputation and essentially its promise.

Your brand includes ideas and perceptions that aren’t always in your control and not always created by you. A strange thought, but true. Ultimately your brand is a combination of how you define and promote yourself and how others define and perceive you.

Quality, value and meeting expectations- those are the basics of how to keep a brand promise and are crucial for business owner or brand ambassador to remember.

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