Branding is indispensable for businesses, big or small, new or old
Branding defines a business’s identity; it is how a business presents itself to the world.
But branding is much more than fancy logos and catchy taglines – it captures the ethos of a business and guides its journey.
Branding is also important for positioning and the subsequent competitive advantages. If you do not brand yourself, others will. That’s the reality, so new businesses would do well to take control of the narrative right from the time of launch so that others cannot slot them or define the space they can be in.
Let’s look at some ways to transform a new business into a trustworthy and successful brand.
But first, what’s your story?
It all begins with the narrative.
A cancer survivor launches a line of green juices. A former drug addict launches a life-coaching business to help others overcome similar obstacles. A former ‘slacker’ is now known as a “multi-passionate entrepreneur” with a penchant for transforming lives and businesses.
Everyone has a story to tell. What the successful brands do is find a way to leverage theirs. People don’t set up businesses just to make money anymore. There is usually a larger purpose behind it. What is yours?
- Your story and your purpose will define your brand voice
- Together, they will guide the content you create
- They will determine the kind of audience you attract
- They will determine the communication channels you pursue
Your story drives your message. It gives your brand credibility and a unique voice, and essentially it positions it. Before you can begin branding in earnest, you must figure out your story and how to best share it with the world.
1. Align your online presence with the story
The story and the message are an essential part of brand building, but still only a part of it. To become a brand, a business needs to pay attention to the tangible elements as well – such as graphics, aesthetics, and content.
Once you have launched a business, everything that you do around it – how you make the website, how you write the web copy (or the voice you infuse it with), how you position the content, and the way you interact on social – must vibe with the essence of your story, which is now the essence of your business. This helps a business to solidify its identity.
Branding elements include the color scheme on the website; the design of the logo; the tone and tenor of the content – written, audio, or visual; the tone and tenor of the microcontent (the posts you make on social platforms); the design or color scheme of the merchandise; the design and colors of the physical store (if you have one); and the aesthetic appearance of the business at promotional events.
To cultivate a brand identity, all the elements – tangible as well as intangible – must work together and in a consistent manner.
2. Create a company culture around brand ethos
The mission of a business informs its brand values. These need to percolate down to the latest employee hired by a company. Everyone on the team needs to be aware of and share the brand ethos. They also need to demonstrate that through their behavior, particularly those in customer-facing roles.
What experience do you want your customers to take away after doing business with you? How can you make this experience more memorable? Focus on the ideal customer experience and reverse engineer to make it happen.
3.. Create innovative content that pulls in right people
Content not just increases the visibility of a business, it also helps position it. From generating new leads to building a community, carefully crafted content is your ticket to social media stardom.
With the right content your business can:
- Reach out to the target audience and beyond
- Build a followership
- Build a relationship with the followership
- Keep the engagement going
- Present yourself the way you want
But content can only do the above if it is innovative. Content glut is a real phenomenon and consumers have little-to-no patience for businesses that engage in product-specific marketing instead of customer-oriented marketing.
Pay special attention to your content strategy. To establish itself as a memorable brand, a company needs to create content that appeals to its specific audience. This essentially means that even if you are only able to reach and find emotional resonance with a few thousand people initially, it’s well worth it. Because they will be your true fans and brand advocates who spread the word on your behalf.
Fortunately, it has never been easier to create eye-catching content, though trial and error is inevitable here. While the audio-visual format is a universal hit, it might or might not work for your business. Every business needs to figure out the best way it can tell its story and reach the intended people with the message. And though the video is wildly popular as a means of content consumption, the written word has its dedicated fans, too. Podcasts are rising in popularity as well.
Two most important things to consider: what format can you best create the content in, and is this the format that your ideal audience prefers?
4. Change the way you look at social media
Social media is about give and take. In fact, it’s mostly about give, give, give, and then some take.
Shift the focus from what you can get out of the popular social platforms – i.e. a ton of followers, to what you can give and are giving right now - i.e. great content and user experience for free. Spread the word, generate engagement. When your content is top-notch and distribution generous, people will notice it, appreciate it, and follow it.
5. Seek collaborations with industry influencers
This is the fastest way for businesses to reach new and relevant segments. In fact, so effective is this tactic that last year “companies spent more than $1billion on influencer marketing.”
Seek out influencers who share similar values and discuss opportunities to work together. When you feature in their videos or Instagram posts, you gain exposure to not just their followers but also all those whom the followers share the posts with. Your reach goes through the roof.
As a brand, you are out there, in front of hundreds of thousands of potential customers. And by aligning with the right kind of influencers you are also in the right company. You have sent a strong message about who you are and where you stand.
Branding is more than skin deep
Branding is a fun and creative way of carving out a distinct identity in a noisy and crowded marketplace. An identity that attracts the right kind of customers and translates into stronger business relationships. How do you handle the branding challenges of your business?