Let’s get two things straight right from the top:
1 – Your business has a brand. 2 – You’ve got absolutely zero choice about that.
You’ve got no choice because “a brand is what people say about you when you’re not there”. To quote Jeff Bezos – as every blog about brand absolutely must (it would seem).
Your brand exists because your business exists. If your business is going about its business then it’s going to get talked about in some way or other, people will think things about it, and some may even feel things about it.
Hopefully that’s positive talk/thought/feeling, but it’s highly likely some of its negative too. You can’t please everyone all the time, right?
SIDE NOTE: Worse than negative sentiment is being unworthy of any opinion at all and ignored completely. “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about” after all. Good old Oscar Wilde.
Now, you’ve got zero choice about having a brand but it’s entirely within your power to shape and control your brand. Here’s how…
What your brand isn’t…
But before we get to the how, let’s chat about something else first.
Just having a brand that’s “good enough” really isn’t good enough. Something that barely passes muster isn’t going to have the impact you necessarily need it to.
You’ve got to give your brand the right amount of effort and investment to ensure its fit for purpose.
Don’t get scared when you read the word ‘investment’ though. We’re not talking about blowing wads of cash on hiring a top graphic designer to whip up a new logo (that’ll probably just be the name of your company in a stock font, as seems to be the trend at the moment).
Anyway, that’s branding, not your brand. Similar words that can easily confuse things. Branding is a set of devices used to articulate your brand. Logos, colour schemes, imagery, copy, etc. are all linked to your brand but they’re not your brand.
And your brand isn’t your marketing either. Your content, campaigns, advertising, etc. are activities used to get your brand out into the world (amongst other things).
What we are talking about doing is putting in the necessary investment of time and thinking to nail what your business stands for, how your business should act, and what you want to be known for. Having those things dialled means they more easily flow through everything your business does so (you guessed it…) the right people say the right things about you when you’re not there.
Making That Investment in Your Brand
So rather than just waffle on and repeat the word brand we wanted to give you some advice to help you properly define (or tweak, as the case may be) your own brand.
This is by no means a comprehensive list and we’re not giving away the cow with the milk here (as brand strategy is one of the things our clients come to us for). But the following bullets will give you a steer on what you need to understand and get to grips with to solidify your brand:
Why does your business exist (other than to make money)?
We’ve all got to pay the bills, but what is the core value or benefits your business provides to enable you to bring in that sweet, sweet cash? What challenge(s) are you helping people overcome? What help or assistance are you providing? In short, what’s the purpose of your business? A word of caution here though. Be careful of slipping down a rabbit hole of gibberish when it comes to brands and purpose.
There’s a lot of nonsense being talked about “brand purpose” right now. It’s largely down to big consumer brands co-opting some sort of trendy higher calling that has little to nothing to do with their business in order to shift product – a new flavour of crisps isn’t going to sort out gender inequality, for instance. Don’t chase the trends. Focus instead on the attributes that make your business great.
Who are the other players in your world?
What does your competitive environment look like? Who are the big players, the nimble operators, the sluggish old hands – and where are the gaps that you can exploit?
You also need to look at your ideal customer. What choices does your customer have? What does that customer look like – what do they need, want, think, feel? How do they behave? And how do they buy?
Then spare a thought for any other players who operate in your world? Regulators, analysts, advisors, influencers. Who else would come into contact with your business and brand that you need to consider?
How does your business talk?
What’s the personality of your brand? What are the values you hold dear and what are the beliefs these inform? What does your business believe and what do you stand for?
It’s often a good exercise to personify your brand and business. If you’re business were a person what would they be like, how would they act, what would they do (or not do)?
What does your business say?
This is all about the messages you use to ensure you give your customers a clear view of the benefits you provide and all those reasons you give them to buy from you.
You need to think about how you make your messages both functionally engaging (so customer can easily answer “how will this help me?”) and emotionally engaging (sparking the right kinds of thoughts and feelings) so you can talk to people on every level.
You also need to look at the proof you can point to that backs up what you’re saying about the benefits you provide, and how that can then all be distilled into pithy, easy to understand words and sentences
Based on what we’ve just run though you’ve got quite a serious number of questions you need to answer to help you define your brand. See what we meant when we’re talking about making the necessary investment of time and thinking to get your brand right? A great brand doesn’t just materialise from thin air.
Hopefully we’ve given you plenty to think about though and you can start to move away from having a brand that’s only “good enough’.
And if you need any help doing so, you know who to call. Not the ghostbusters.