Branding. It’s an aspect of marketing that a lot of people understand, but not many get right. When it comes to developing your brand for your business or social enterprise, you really need to dig deep and ask yourself some important questions. If you don’t know the essence of who you are, why you exist and what problems you’re solving, then your customers can’t either.
Your brand is not just your visual identity; it’s reflected in every aspect of your business - your tone of voice copy, the types of content you produce, and more importantly, how you interact with your customers.
Once you’ve created a successful brand, the rest is easy. Your brand becomes a roadmap for how you do everything - what you think, how you act, and the decisions you take as a business.
The most impactful brands (think Apple, Google) have surely asked themselves the following questions, and used the answers as their consistent signpost for everything they do; both online and offline.
Why do you exist?
I’m not asking you to delve into existential philosophy here, just to think about your ‘raison d’etre’ - your reason or purpose for setting up your business or social enterprise in the first place. And I’m not just talking about money.
There needs to be a reason beyond profit in order for people to emotionally engage with your brand (Remember Steve Jobs - ‘I want to put a ding in the universe?’). It can be just one reason, or several.
What problem are you solving for your customers?
You’re providing a service or a product; but what problem are you solving to the end user? Are you appealing to their ethics or values? Are you helping them be healthier? Are you providing expert knowledge on a subject?
It’s important to not just consider the problem you’re solving, but the way you solve it for them.
For example, if you’re a clothing business, do you provide outfits for the busy 9-5’er? Are you focused on ethical fashion? Do your supplies come from a FairTrade stockist? Once you’re explicit about exactly how you meet your audience’s needs, they’re likely to buy into and trust your brand.
What’s different about you?
It’s easy to overlook our differences when we take them for granted, but even if you’re in a saturated market; no one business is going to have the same skills, knowledge and experience in their team.
What do you know or what have you done that others haven’t? Celebrate your differences and use them to your advantage. Being the odd one out is not always a bad thing.
What emotional experience would you like those interacting with your brand to receive?
This one’s about how you connect with your audience.
If you’re selling a health service, for example, you could brand yourself in a way that was purely clinical, and have a scientific, authoritative tone of voice; or you could market yourself in a way that’s fun and enjoyable, and easy to understand.
The two experiences your audience will get are very different; even though the service is essentially the same. Make a list of words or ‘take home feelings’ that you’d like your customers to get after each interaction with you.
As with all brands, consistency is key. Why? Because it shows that as a brand, you’re to be trusted.
You stick to your values, and you have integrity. So many businesses forget this and sometimes end up sending out mixed messages in their copy and visual identity, and this can potentially create a barrier between your business and those you’re trying to connect with.
Print these questions somewhere you can read them everyday; and it will help you stay focused, on track, and aligned with where you want your brand to be.