Creating your company's brand is a vital process that can be daunting, but not impossible with a step-by-step approach and careful work.
When you think of a brand, what do you first think of? Your favorite brand of cereal or your favorite brand of shoes? Successful entrepreneurs know that you should be thinking about your company's brand. Branding is a vital process that takes time and effort, and it can be a daunting proposition. But it's not impossible if you follow a step-by-step approach and work carefully.
What Is Branding?
Branding is the process by which a company builds its identity. Each brand is a combination of hundreds of things, both large and small, from a company's logo to the organizations that receive its charitable contributions. Ultimately, it is the public's perception of the company, and it can be shaped.
Consider Your Current Brand
In order to successfully develop a brand, you must first assess its current status. You will need to look at every product, every piece of marketing material, and every corporate action to determine the message they are sending - the brand they are creating. You might consider hiring a consultant to provide an objective outside perspective, or you could assemble in-house focus groups and committees. The more careful the examination of your brand, the more helpful feedback you will receive on necessary changes.
Know Your Market
Think about the people you want to buy your product or use your services. Be as specific as possible. Consider the difference between targeting twenty-something women and twenty-something, college-educated, single women who live in the city and eat at restaurants three times a week. Completing a market analysis study can help you delve further into the specifics of your target market.
Do They Mesh?
Once you've determined your company's current brand identity and your target market, you can then consider how well they fit. If you wish to market your product to middle-aged women, graffiti-style graphics aren't the way to go. Conversely, the same teenagers who might enjoy those graphics will be turned off if your commercials use easy listening music. Now these examples are exaggerations, but companies make more subtle mistakes along those same lines all the time.
Look For Inspiration
While you want to create your own unique brand, you should also look to successful companies in your market to see what they've accomplished and how they've achieved their brand. Not sure what other companies in your field are doing? It's time to do some research on the competition, so that one day you can the company that others are looking to emulate.
Do Your Actions Match the Brand?
Don't forget that branding is a matter of public perception, and everything you do in the public eye contributes to the company's brand. So if you want to brand yourself as an environmentally-sensitive company, make sure the CEO drives a hybrid car rather than a gas-guzzler. If you want to market your products as luxury items, don't make them available at chain discount stores. Consistency is key.
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
Once you've aligned your brand and your actions, it's time to commit yourself to keeping it out there. The more your brand is seen, the more it will enter the public consciousness. From constant ad campaigns to consistent use of the company logo on business cards and letterhead, repetition will build the brand you've successfully created.