Your brand is much more than a creative logo and catchy slogan. It’s the very essence of who you are, what you stand for, and what customers can expect when you engage. Your logo and slogan play a role, sure, as do the images you use, the messages you deliver, the way your employees interact with your customers, and every single thing you do. Building a strong brand takes effort, and these five steps can help.
1. Establish Your Purpose
Yes, the underlying purpose of every business is to make money. But strong brands go much deeper than that. Think about the reason your company was started, and why it continues to exist. Ponder what makes you get up in the morning and head to work.
What are you aiming to achieve? Are you out to make people laugh? Bring beauty to the mundane? Make everyone’s lives easier?
Reviewing your mission and vision statements can help you pinpoint your purpose. Mission statements typically outline what you do, while vision statements touch on what you hope to achieve in the not-so-distant future.
2. Determine What Makes You Stand Out
Figure out why customers should buy from your company instead of your competitors. What do you have and do that they don’t? Here you can review the intangible qualities of your product or services. Your goal is to position your brand in people’s mind so they think about you differently than they do about your competitors.
The most powerful brands often end up owning a word, like “safety,” “convenient,” or “fun.” Think of what word you want to own, and then tailor your efforts to make it happen.
Knowing your competitors can help you differentiate yourself from them, and being aware of their actions can help you enhance your own brand. Since you’re all going after the same customers, watch what they do to woo them. Take note of which tactics succeed and which fail, using what you’ve learned to strengthen your own strategies.
3. Know Your Target Consumer
You’re likely to have already gathered demographic data on your target customers, but your knowledge needs to go deeper. Think about the real people that walk in your store or browse your website. What do these people ultimately want from your product or service? What problems are you solving? What do they need from you?
Developing your brand around the emotional benefits or your products or services can be extremely effective. Start by listing both the features and benefits of your offerings. Features are attributes, such as color or material, while benefits are the advantages customers get from the feature.
Once you have a list of benefits, determine which are emotional. Review all the emotional benefits and pinpoint the one thing customers should think of when they think of your company. That one thing is what your overall brand should represent to the consumer.
4. Perfect Your Personality
Think of your brand as a person with an unmistakable personality. Describe everything about this person, and then convey those traits in everything your company does and creates. Brand personality is more than just promises in your mission and vision statements. It’s the actions you take to fulfill those promises.
A brand’s personality needs to be apparent in the colors, images and designs you choose, your tone and messages, and even in the way your employees engage with your customers. If something doesn’t support your brand’s personality, change it to keep the personality alive.
5. Be Consistent (Yet Flexible)
Strong brands are recognizable because they’re consistent with everything they do. All colors, fonts, styles, images, and actions align with the core of their brand. Consider a style guide for employees to help retain that consistency. Also make sure everything you do, say or release supports the heart of your brand.
While consistency is a must to strengthen your identity, it’s also important to have enough flexibility to remain fresh and relevant. You don’t want to change the foundation of your brand, but you do want to be open to creative campaigns, amending tactics that no longer work, and new ideas that can continue to help you differentiate yourself from your competition.
Once the foundation of your brand is established, you want to make sure your actions contribute to its ongoing fortification and growth. Regularly survey your vendors, employees and customers by conducting a brand audit to make sure their impressions of your brand line up with who you are. Then continue to improve weaknesses, play up strengths and otherwise work toward ensuring your brand remains poised to thrive.