When it comes to starting a new business, there are few things as important as branding. An effective strategy can set a company apart from its competitors and help connect you with a targeted group of loyal, raving customers eager to complete their buyers’ journeys. Getting the attention of the public and increasing your traffic, however, isn’t easy. In an era of small attention spans, it’s tough to speak through the constant noise.
So how do you ensure your company’s unique offerings cut through the sound? The biggest companies in the world all have one thing in common: they know the value of branding. Even if your product or service is stellar, if you can’t find your audience and connect with them over shared values, you’ll struggle to build your base of loyal customers. After all, word of mouth can’t spread if you never get the word out in the first place.
Take a cue from the big brands of the world like McDonald’s®, Disney® and beyond who focus on prioritizing branding. Here are five ways to do just that:
Know Your Audience
Anyone who has ever stood in the salad dressing aisle of the grocery store can appreciate the paradox of choice. It’s a truly modern problem with which generations before did not have to deal. No matter your industry, there will always be competitors, which is why it’s so important to hone in on your target audience. By finding out the exact demographics of who your ideal customer might be, you can appeal to them with your branding.
Once you’ve determined who you’re selling to, you can focus in on the kind of branding they might like to see. Take a look at the other brands they are already into and compare your values, beliefs and design. Finding the commonalities can lead you to the right track for your brand.
Play With Persona
Think of your brand as a person. That’s right, go ahead and build out an entire character as though you were writing a novel or screenplay about them. How would they greet friends on the street? What would they order for dinner? Are they a cat person or a dog person? None of these answers ever need to make their way into your branding strategy, but they can help inform the kind of persona you’re trying to execute.
Once you’ve got a clear idea of your brand’s personality, you can begin speaking to customers in that voice. Create engaging social media posts by writing in an authentic voice that sounds true to the brand persona. While there are no hard and fast rules to this kind of writing, it’s important to keep your character in mind. A high-end champagne company, for example, probably wouldn’t want to come across as too casual to its online followers. A children’s educational toy company, however, might want to embrace a laid-back tone to appeal to the parents who are reading their updates.
Identify Your Values
While your ultimate goal in business might be to turn a profit or impress shareholders, you also need to have values, beliefs and purpose. These can help drive the emotional aspects of your brand positioning. These values also help inform the persona you developed in the previous tip. By fleshing out your brand’s voice and personality with relatable values and honest beliefs, you add a human element to an otherwise potentially cold and corporate machine.
Don’t think your company has any particularly strong values one way or another? Think again. Take time to reflect on the problem you solve for your customers, or the joy you bring to their lives. Even if you struggle to put your values into exact words, you can direct the focus of your company to your integrity. That’s something everyone will respect and, ultimately, keep coming back to.
Build Your Platform
Consistency is key with branding. After all, can you imagine if the Apple logo looked slightly different every time you saw it? Consistency sends a signal to your customers that you are trustworthy, reliable and professional. Build your platform to be as consistent as possible from the beginning and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Start by commissioning a great logo. Work with a talented graphic designer and invest the time and money to get it right. Next, create brand guidelines for all employees to refer back to over time. This should include specific color palettes, type styles and images with which you’d like your brand to be associated. While you’re at it, build out an entire brand book with instructions on editorial guidelines and signage specifications.
Share Your Knowledge
There’s no better way to gain the trust of your customers than to educate them. By becoming a thought leader in your sector, you ensure that folks will think of you when they think of your industry. You also have the privilege of helping shape what they know about a given topic. That’s a power that comes with great responsibility and should not be taken lightly.
By educating your audience of potential customers, you broaden their minds to the idea that your product or service is more necessary than they’d thought. Because you’re educating rather than selling, the information comes across as helpful rather than superficial. Ultimately, this leads to more conversions and happier customers.
Bonus: Keep every customer interaction with your company on-brand
Whether it’s responding to a social media follower or helping a customer over the phone, you need to keep your interactions on-brand. Use all the values and persona points you’ve built out to help guide the way in which you handle every communication opportunity with the public. Looking for some quality and consistency when it comes to taking calls from customers? A professional call center can customize a plan for you that takes all the branding aspects you’ve built out and make sure they are followed on each customer call. A program like this that ensures all your calls are handled by competent, knowledgeable representatives of your business will do wonders for your branding and business growth.
No matter how you decide to build your brand, devoting the time and energy will pay dividends. Though it may be difficult to invest in something that has no immediate ROI, branding is one of the most important aspects of any company’s journey. Why not stand on the shoulders of the corporate giants who have created such iconic brands?