Springtime and Branding
While the rest of the country seems locked in a very deep freeze, the NW has been experiencing the annual Spring Tease with highs near or above 60 degrees and blue skies.
As a result, I’m in a Spring-like mood. You know the feeling? It is the feeling where you want to throw up the windows, clean out the closets, dust away the cobwebs and wash everything in sight. Renew, refresh and brighten.
Which is why now is an excellent time to think about giving your branding a good once over. Over time, cobwebs form, inconsistency happens and before you know it, your branding efforts are a hodge-podge of images and impressions that are not sending a strong and consistent message to your audience.
First, let’s make certain you and I are on the same page about what branding is and what it is not
What Branding Is
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a branding as a “A brand is a customer experience represented by a collection of images and ideas; often, it refers to a symbol such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme. Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary.” (Added definition) “A brand often includes an explicit logo, fonts, color schemes, symbols, sound which may be developed to represent implicit values, ideas, and even personality.” Source: SEMPO and Wikipedia
In short, your brand is a reflection of your company’s DNA.
What Branding Is Not
Branding is not about getting your audience to choose you over your competitors. Rather, it about getting your prospects to see you as the one or one of the leaders in providing a solution to their problem.
Branding is not just a logo. Branding is not sales. Both are different disciplines.
Freshening up your Branding
Below you’ll find an infographic from 99Designs outlining eight (8) essential branding steps. As a resource for design, this list focuses on logo design elements. But you also need to think about how to translate your branding into your website, your signage, your email marketing…into everything that goes into an experience with your company. This post lists many of the items you should consider.
These steps work regardless if you are a start-up or have been around for some time. While you may think this is a waste of time if you’ve been in business for some time, the fact is your mission, your audience and your marketplace has been morphing and changing. To ensure you are up-to-speed on what is happening in your market and with your audience, a solid walk through of these steps will help you identify any gaps.
Two Additional Power Branding Tips
In addition to the 8 Tips provided by 99Designs, I’d like to offer two more for those of you who have a base of customers. This approach can provide you with a true perspective of your brand – one that comes straight from your customers.
Power Branding Tip #1: Craft a survey and have your customers provide you with feedback. Specific questions I recommend you include in your survey are:
- What do you believe (your company’s) mission is?
- Who does (your company) best serve?
- What makes (your company) different from others who offer the same product/service?
- Define (your company) as you would a person. Note: Rather than a fill-in the blank question, this question works best if you provide them with a list of personal traits (e.g. feminine, masculine, etc.) for your customers to check off as the best descriptors of your company. Use a combination of characteristics that mesh with your brand as well as characteristics that are the opposite, such as white collar, blue collar or friendly, business-like.
Power Tip #2: You could also include your two of your most serious competitors in this survey. Now, you not only have your customers’ impression of you, but also of your competitors.
The reason this approach is much more powerful is because it comes direct from your customers. They are sharing their impressions of you and, if you ask, of your competitors. They are telling you exactly what they think.
In reality you may not like what you hear. There may be a very big gap between what you believe about your company and what your customers believe about you and of your competitors. That is often the case, which is why it is so important to uncover.
But that’s okay. It is a good thing. Now that you are armed with the information, you can adjust your branding to send more of the message you truly want to deliver.
Which is exactly what you are going to do…right?