One of the best definitions of branding that I’ve heard is that it is a singular concept or idea that you own inside the mind of the viewer. You need a brand to differentiate your company from competitors offering similar products and services. Unfortunately, market share is based on the power of a brand identity inside the minds of consumers rather than on merit, so it is clear that you need branding to be successful. While branding can seem to be a complex process, I’ve found that it can be narrowed down to six key points. Concentrate on these steps first before you do anything else.
1 — Knowledge of Who You Are & What You Offer
Although marketing experts claim that the market defines the brand, this little titbit of information is useless unless you know who your company is, what it stands for, its core values and the benefits it brings to consumers. Without this knowledge, the market will be confused by your business, and it will sink into oblivion.
The idea that a business does not know what it stands for seems to be absurd, but you would be amazed at how many companies set up with the intention of ‘making profit’ and seemingly little else. The result is that these businesses have no clue what benefits they offer which leads to muddled communication with customers. The modern consumer is savvy and will see through transparent companies in a flash, so sit down and THINK about your business, its identity, what its goals are and how it can enrich the lives of consumers.
2 — Find Your Target Audience
It is easy to get lost amidst an array of marketing facts and figures, only to lose sight of your target demographic. You can do all the research you want, but the best way to determine your target audience is to get in touch with them. Email marketing is a relatively inexpensive yet increasingly advanced method of finding out your target audience. Of course, common sense comes into play too. For example, if you run a website that focuses on knitting, it is likely that a fairly small percentage of young males will be interested!
3 — Send a Clear Message
Once you have determined your target audience, it is now time to send a clear message with laser-like precision. It is important to know that the Internet generation doe not like spending time figuring out your brand. So it is therefore essential that you send them a clear, concise message that sums up the brand; namely what it does and how it can help them. The leading marketing experts in the world say that it should be possible to describe your brand in three words or phrases. Sit down and think of the three most important things about your business that customers must know.
4 — Be Consistent
McDonald’s consistency allows for global recognisability despite linguistic adaption.
The most successful brands in the world have remained consistent for decades, save for the occasional refresh. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Ford, Guinness and McDonalds have remained fundamentally the same for generations. Even their respective logos have hardly changed barring minor cosmetic alterations to spruce them up on rare occasions. If you continually change your logo, name, message or any other integral part of your brand, you will not have an established identity to speak of and consumers will quickly move on.
5 — Be Persistent
It is not likely that you will find success in a hurry. Even the so-called ‘overnight successes’ involve many hours of work behind the scenes, occasional failures and lots of frustration. An interesting statistic from the New York Times a few years ago said that 95% of blogs were ‘derelict’ — that means no one posts on them anymore. Creating blogs and sending emails for a couple of months is not enough, you need to keep at it and show that your brand can stand the test of time. If you do not believe in your brand enough to fight through hard times, why should consumers care about you?
Bear in mind that most potential clients are subjected to an information overload and often simply don’t have time to act — even when they are interested. Don’t give up and eventually, you will be rewarded. You must continue to look for new customers on a regular basis and if you find that one approach does not work, try a new one and another one until you get a winning formula.
6 — Learn to Adapt
This is an extension of the final point in the last paragraph; the marketplace is always changing and what’s ‘in vogue’ one week will be ‘passé’ the next. No matter how much you love your ideas, you have to be willing to drop them and try something else. If you do not evolve, your business will be left behind, and your brand will be synonymous with failure as all your competitors adapt to new customer demands. There are few certainties in life but ‘change’ is certainly one of them.
No brand has a divine right to success regardless of what you might think. Even companies that seem to have it easy, possess a Spartan work ethic and always strive to become bigger and better. If you want your brand to become known locally, nationally or even internationally, follow the above basics of successful branding and you’ll be far ahead of many of your rivals.
Originally published at inkbotdesign.com on November 3, 2014.