Branding is always mentioned when we speak with clients, but I have found that very few companies really understand what a brand is and why it is important to their overall marketing strategy. Branding is very important to your business and possibly the most important asset you can develop. A brand is meant to project feelings and meanings that customers associate with the brand. Is your brand projecting what you want your customer to feel or think? Your answer may determine whether it may be time to freshen your brand.
Why a brand?
A good brand communicates clearly, artistically and creates credibility. It enables you to provide customers with an image that can provoke emotion or feelings about your company, having a powerful impact on whether someone wants to do business with you. A good brand image projects a unique, provocative, and memorable image to your prospects and clients.
When someone looks at your business card, Web site or marketing piece, what does your image project? Does your brand leave a positive, powerful, successful, or reliable image in the minds of your prospects? Or does it project a light, airy, fun, or exciting image? What image best fits your company? Remember, you have to be able to project your image in every aspect of your company – from your materials, to your attitudes, to the way you answer the phone, to the way you conduct yourself in public.
How do you determine your brand?
Most likely you have a brand even if you do not have a logo or creative image. Ask customers the first words or images that come to their mind when your business is mentioned. If they consistently respond with an emotion or feeling that fits your business, then your brand has been developed. When responses are inconsistent, ambiguous, or refer to non-image attributes such as cost, it is an indicator of a weak brand image.
If you have a weak brand image, you need focus on marketing programs that help build awareness around your brand. Remember that your brand is developed through an entire customer experience and needs to be reinforced consistently through your Web site, sales tools, promotional items, customer service, word-of-mouth and other aspects of doing business with you.
Evolving your brand
Although you may have a brand, your brand needs to evolve with your business. As your business matures, so should your brand. Evolving your brand does not mean changing your brand. It means you should consider refreshing, updating, or clarifying the image you use and the emotion it projects. If you have had the same logo for several years, talk with a designer to see if you can update its look without changing the overall image it projects. If you don’t have a logo, consider having one developed. Brands take time to develop, so you should not “re-brand” your company unless you truly believe you need to (because your brand has been associated with a negative feeling). But if your brand is weak, maybe a little evolution is needed before you embark on a new marketing campaign.