Recently I met a business owner who, after mentioning I was in the creative business of branding, announced they had just ‘rebranded’ and proudly showed me their new logo. When asking about the other branding elements, they glazed over and said “No, I don’t have any of that, just the logo.”
It’s easy to be confused about what branding is, and a good logo is just the tip of the brand iceberg. Let’s dive into the 10 essential elements of creating an engaging brand.
1. Understand your Brand Personality
Since humans could communicate, we have been telling stories. Stories that capture our attention, evoke emotion and connect us.
Take a closer look at these stories and certain characters will keep popping up. Whether it’s an innocent maiden, a knight in shining armour, a wise old man or a magical fairy, somehow we understand their personalities and identify with them.
A brand personality creates this same connection between customers and the business. Knowing and using a personality for your brand is like using ninja stealth, subliminal techniques to connect customers to your brand.
I have developed a word association system based on psychologist Carl Jung’s philosophies of brand archetypes. This system can help you discover and understand what personality your brand is. If you don’t have clarity about your brand, you won’t get a result, but as the system is completely free, you can try as many times as you would like.
We all love a good story! Any when they are told well, we remember them far easier than a list of features or benefits. Brands with a good story are more believable.
People relate to stories so if you have a relevant and enticing one, you will attract the right people who will not only love and trust your brand, but they will become loyal followers and advocates.
Stories are a great way to position yourself in the market, set a culture and provide a strong message for your brand. These stories don’t have to be long or detailed, in fact, simple is always best.
Remember to tell your brand story often and ensure that all people involved in the business know the story too and are able to tell it well.
3. Develop your logo and collateral
Yes, you do need a logo. In general, simple logo designs are more memorable and reproduce well across multimedia - print, online, silk screening, embroidery or signage.
Logos with drop shadows, fancy effects or trendy fonts don’t translate well across platforms, nor do they pass the test of time. Remember brands are like houses, they need good foundations. Your brand foundation is your logo. Have a professional create or evolve your logo. Your business is too precious to leave this important stage in the hands of your cousin’s girlfriend’s brother who is studying design!
Collateral is the collection of media including business stationery, brochures, annual reports adverts, welcome kits, newsletters and signage. As collateral can be expensive, look first at what is critical and what is a high return on investment. If you are selling million dollar homes and spend $10 per brochure, it will be worth it, however, if you sell $10 widgets, then you’d opt for a 10c flyer.
Your corporate identity should flow consistently through all areas ensuring the look and message stays true to your brand. There is no excuse for not keeping true to your brand image. Not having enough cash for a professional design is not a good enough excuse – this is your business and it deserves to be invested in. This is the visible aspect of your brand that is so vital in attracting people to your service or product. To become front of mind, consistency is king.
Do a quick brand audit… Put all of your printed items on your desk next to your computer with your website visible. Does it look like it belongs together? If not, you need to work on building a more consistent image for your brand. Having a company style guide is a great way to ensure that everyone in your organisation represents the brand correctly.
4. Establish your digital footprint
The current reality is - if you are not found on Google you do not exist!
An interesting exercise is to Google yourself or your business. What comes up? Are you happy with what you see or are you embarrassed? Everything that can be found about you or your brand on the internet is considered to be your digital footprint – and it is growing daily!
A clear digital strategy is essential in ensuring that your brand’s reputation is maintained in the correct light. Clients have access to this part of your brand 24/7 from anywhere in the world. Your digital strategy may include a website, how it functions, social media, EDM’s (electronic direct mail), blogs, webinars, online programs etc. The clearer you are on your brand will result in better communication on these platforms.
Social media is a beast. Thinking that you can hide from it is simply putting your head in the sand. Be strategic as to what you use and when – how you choose to use it, what you want to post and how you plan to interact with your clients.
You don’t need to be on all social media platforms but ensure that you are not just good, but excellent at the social media you choose to use. A clear plan of attack will ensure your brand is represented in the best online light.
Understanding your brand personality is essential to helping you craft the language and tone of your business. Is your brand fun, youthful, creative, serious, adventurous, caring, sensual or down to earth?
With many possible personalities that your brand could be, each one would use a different suite of words all delivered with different tones. Once you know your personality type, it makes it a lot easier to know what language and tone to use in your collateral and correspondence with your audience.
Is your personality fresh, youthful and energetic such as Boost Juice? Use entertaining and fun words and energetic tones in your material. Is your brand serious such as the Roads Authority? A more sober or thoughtful tone would be used. Knowing your personality and target audience is essential in setting the correct tone and language to represent your brand.
6. Create a kick **bleep** slogan
“The burgers are better at…”
“Lucky, you’re with…”
“Have a break, have a…”
The above are often answered by children who constantly hear their brand messages repeated on TV, the radio or paper. This constant repetition of the same consistent message ensures that the slogan becomes a huge part of the brand equity. “Not happy Jan”, from a Yellow Pages advert has become part of the Australian culture while ‘Google’ has become a verb as well as being a pro noun.
A slogan adds interest to your brand and relates to the core message you are communicating. Invest on getting this right first time as changing your slogan too often will cause brand confusion.
7. Design a Dress code
What you and your team wear directly affects your brand. Having someone wearing a tracksuit and sneakers to work in an office environment is inappropriate, however if you’re a personal trainer, wearing these clothes would be very acceptable.
Dress code is often an area of branding that people overlook, but it is an extremely important aspect as it is a visual cue that can make or break a first impression.
8. Own Your Area
You may be unlikely to build a big brand – think Coca-Cola or Nike, but you can build a strong brand within your area of expertise or in a geographical area.
We know the brands that dominate ‘fast food’, ‘safe car’ or ‘soda drink’. By building a brand in your geographic area or with your direct target audience, you too can become a leader in your industry.
Some brands are so strong that they have even started to ‘own’ the product area – think Glad Wrap and Band Aids. This doesn’t happen quickly or easily. It takes constant focus on your main message and consistent exposure. Don’t deviate or change direction as you will cause brand confusion that’s hard to recover from.
9. Train Your Team
Train your team to maintain your brand. When everyone knows how to behave, talk and dress, the chances of the brand maintaining its correct message are high. McDonalds staff are trained in the systems and procedures with a 15 year old providing the exact same service as a 25 year old.
Strong systems are critical to brand success. Ensure you have a system from answering the phone to finalising a sale. My recent visit to the Apple store in New York was impressive. Even though it was triple the size of my Apple store, the process of customer service was exactly the same. Without consistent systems, clients could have inconsistent experiences, visit to visit.
Document your systems, ensure staff are trained and your customer can enjoy a good experience - every time.
There is nothing better than popping into your favourite café to get your coffee the way you like it – every time. Top this off with the staff giving you a smile and better still, if you’re a regular, calling you by name. This executed well keeps you coming back.
On my recent New York trip I also visited the M&M Store – what an eye opener and a great experience! I could get a cup of M&M’s personalised for my children. The staff were happy, engaging and quick to help with a clever way of upselling you to a bigger cup of M&M’s – clapping when customers took up the offer.
The experience of choosing colours, personalisation and sending them down the M&M shoot for stamping was entertaining and exciting! My three friends and I decided to purchase these overpriced souvenirs simply to go through the experience and marvel at the outcome.
Give your clients the opportunity to experience your brand. Invest in creating an experience that enhances the customers time dealing with your company, but will leave a lasting memory.
Learn how to brand your business with all of the tools and tips from Branding Expert and Creative Director, Debbie O’Connor.
The Brand Magic Masterclass is an online program designed for you to learn all there is to know about building your own brand. With 6 months access you can work through the program as quickly or slowly as you would like, coming back to ensure you get the most out of the program.
“It’s a program for business owners to develop knowledge and skills to be able to manage a lot of your branding yourself. So much of branding is far more than the visuals that we see and associate with branding. This is what I want to teach you”. Debbie O’Connor.
For more information on the program visit Brand Magic Masterclass here.
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