How do you create an identity and build a successful brand for your business? It all starts with asking a series of questions to get at the root of what you want your identity to be and to whom you wish to communicate your message.
First, think about how you want your business to be perceived:
- What feelings do you want to invoke in others?
- What words would describe how you want others to perceive your company?
Now, look at how your company is currently being perceived:
- What feelings do customers have right now, as things stand?
- What words would describe how they currently perceive your business?
To understand the true feelings of people within your industry, you might want to go as far as taking the time for market research and customer surveys, so that you get unbiased opinions and more realistic answers to these questions. Once you know what you want your company’s identity to be — and what it currently is — you can take concrete steps to change how your company is viewed.
The essentials of a good brand
A good brand consists of:
- A “story.” Know exactly what you want to communication to your audience: what you and your company do, for whom it’s done, and most importantly, why it’s done — and put it all in writing.
- Consistency. Whatever you choose as your identity, and however you choose to convey it, don’t break out of character. In branding, consistency is key. Lose consistency, and you’ll lose your audience.
- A team that believes in your brand and represents it well.
The branding of YOU
Keep in mind that branding is not only about your company; it’s also about you.
You might think this would be in particular if you are a “solopreneur.” And you’d be right. It is extremely important if that’s the case. But many large companies (take Oprah Winfrey’s, for instance) are built on a brand that is, in fact, also a person.
And really, any and all the people involved in any organization can be part of and contribute to its branding. You can personally promote your company’s brand by carrying the concept into your everyday professional situations. You can indeed be your brand!
Personal branding — a way of life
A great example of such personal branding is Mary Kay Ash, late founder of the Mary Kay cosmetics empire. As you might already know, Mary Kay chose pink as the color of her company. Pink evokes feelings of being feminine and pretty—exactly how a cosmetics company wants its customers to feel. Virtually everything in Mary Kay’s life was pink, including her own Cadillac and the interior decoration of her Dallas home.
Did you know, however, that her favorite color was actually blue? Yet, she chose to surrounded herself in pink, even in her personal life, because she was branding not only her company, but also herself.
Beyond being immersed in pink, Mary Kay always made sure that she was perfectly coiffed, made-up (in only Mary Kay cosmetics, of course), and wearing feminine attire (skirts and dresses, rather than more masculinely perceived pants) to consistently convey that image of ultra-femininity and pulled-together polish that she knew her ideal customers would want to emulate. To this day, most of the sales directors in the company insist on the same image from their sales force. (To see the Mary Kay company brand in action, visit their website and check out their products HERE.)
If you are the “face” of your business — personally meeting clients, interacting professionally within your community and speaking to potential customers — you are undoubtedly part
of the branding of your business. What are you personally doing in your daily life to promote the image that you want your customers to see and and the message you want them to know?
Don’t fear outside help
If you’ve already read “Why You Need to Bother with Branding,” you realize that branding can be a lot of work. There’s nothing wrong (and perhaps everything right) with hiring a business outside of your organization that specializes in branding to help. An outside “eye” can often see your current business brand more clearly than those within the company, and with their experience and now how, then transform it into the message your business actually needs to deliver. Such an agency will also understand the importance of consistency and standards for both written and visual commercial communications.