Before we talk about your branding, it is important do understand the difference between ‘your brand’ and ‘your branding’. These two terms are very often used to describe the same thing. But, with today’s marketing savvy consumers, they are both very different.
Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions - some of which you can influence, and some you can’t.
Your branding is everything you do that your customers will see. A way of helping someone identify your brand. Your branding is the brand identity, which includes the logo, colours, typefaces and imagery your use to tell your brand story.
Most small businesses start by getting themselves a logo. They then build a website. They then stick their logo on their new website, on their business cards and their on marketing materials.
But, because they haven’t defined a brand first, they have rarely thought about what story they are going to tell their customers, why their customers will care about what they have to say, the benefits of what they offer to their customers, or how they differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Do this first and you will find creating your branding will be much easier.
Unlike you brand, you have complete control over your branding. This includes:
Your business name: This is a really important part of creating a feeling around your business. If you are just starting out, have a think about the best name for your business. Make sure someone else (at least in your sector) isn’t using it and there is a relevant web address available to purchase.
Your logo: Your logo is one of your most important assets. It can be responsible for how somebody views your company. It can sometimes explain what your company does. The essential test of a logo design is how well it assists the understanding of your business, not how stylish it is.
Colours: Having consistent colour/s, helps consumers to recognise you. You can never ‘own’ a colour (there will always be someone out there with a bigger marketing budget than you, who can splash that colour around more than you can), but using a colour, or combinations of colours, repetitively will help brand recall.
Typefaces: As with colours, consistent use of typefaces (or fonts) can help create recognition and familiarity. But unlike colours, you can sometimes ‘own’ a typeface. There are literally thousands of fonts out there (both paid for and free). So you can use something that is very distinctive to you. But, remember, not all fonts can be used on the web. Make sure that at least one of the fonts you use is a ‘web font’.
Tone of voice: Once you have agreed on a tone of voice, you should stick with it. People pick certain people as friends because they like their personality, and a person’s personality rarely changes. If you want your customers to consider you a ‘friend’, you need to have a personality they find comfortable and reliable.
Imagery: Whether it is photography, illustration or graphical icons, the style of images you use should reflect the tone of voice and target audience you are trying to attract. It is very tempting to use cheap, or free, stock imagery. But your competitors could end up using the same images as you. Using your own imagery will help you become unique.
Consistency has one huge advantage - recognition.
Recognition breeds familiarity. If your target audience becomes familiar with your branding, you will have to spend less money getting them to recognise you in the crowd of messages they see every day.
Familiarity breeds trust. When something becomes more familiar to somebody, they are more likely to trust it. And trust is the biggest people cite when they talk about their favourite brands.
Trust breeds confidence. If people are confident about a brand, they are much more likely to part with their money.
And confidence breeds advocacy. This is where you want to get to. If your customers have bought into your brand and your branding they are more likely to buy from you, stick with you and tell their friends about you. You want them to be promoting your brand for you.