Yes, your brand matters!
There are three things you should know about branding.
First, your brand is your reputation. That’s all. It’s what people think of you. Every business has a brand. Every individual has one, too. It's a little like high school.
Second, you need to pay attention to what people say about you. First impressions are important—and these days folks are constantly checking you out, mostly with their mobile devices.
Third, it takes time to build a good reputation. Improving the quality of your products or services will accelerate the process, and your own neighborhood is a good place to start.
THE NOT-SO-GOOD NEWS
Sometimes even the largest companies worry too much about their brands. Colossal rebrand fails abound; if you're a millennial you won't remember Radio Shack's name change to The Shack and Dr. Pepper's attempt to rebrand diet drinks for men. In both cases, marketers likely failed to fully appreciate branding concepts or why rebrand efforts were premature in the first place.
Logo redesigns fail, too. Gap implemented possibly one of the fastest recoveries of all time after reverting to their original logo just six days after putting its new design out into the public—after spending approximately $100,000.
Here are a few questions to ask before you upgrade your brand:
Is our preferred customer changing?
What problems do we hope to solve?
Is our story outdated?
Are our products or services outdated?
What do we want to say, and to whom?
Who cares about our brand?
If we were starting anew, would this be our approach?
How and where will we introduce our brand?
The reality may be that you don’t need to spend a lot; your firm may already employ savvy sales or marketing people possessing good instincts. Many small businesses organize and conduct regular brainstorming sessions that can be surprisingly effective in determining branding strategies.
For do-it-yourselfers, however, it’s essential that you be brutally honest with yourself. From the get-go you’ve got to maintain an outsider’s perspective and think like your prospective customers.
If you turn to consultants, they’ll likely want to address first things first. They'll tell you that a successful branding campaign today may hinge on things you don’t want to spend money on— for example, logos and websites. In such cases, there may be good reason to listen to them, particularly if you're targeting tech-savvy folks who increasingly go online to check you out.
Either way, here is a checklist to help get you started:
You should differentiate between a brand that just looks or feels good and one that might best convey your message.
What is your selling message? What is it that you really offer members and clients? Think about the answer in short, concise, terms--simple enough for anyone to grasp and remember.
It's okay to create a brand suggesting that you are unique and affordable—unless you are not.
Stress values that resonate within your business, that will extend to your potential clients: professionalism, integrity, friendliness, efficiency, pride. Develop messaging with memorable and persuasive adjectives and phrases.
A Catch Phrase
Introducing your company in a single, short line can be difficult but why not take some time, even a lot, and try? Dare to be edgy, the right words may work absolute wonders for you long term.
At the end of the day branding is common sense stuff. It's about what you do, and what you've done. How you talk, the stories you tell, and how you tell them. The mountains you’ve climbed and the next adventure. Your good deeds and the books you read. The colors you wear and the way you style your hair. If you don't do anything, that's probably your brand.