B in my bonnet: Top 10 branding tips
Every where I go on Facebook, there seems to be small and micro business people asking opinions on a selection of logos to brand their business. It drives me nuts – the opinions of random strangers on Facebook mean nothing when it comes to your branding.
Sure, you might have “designed” a logo but a brand is so much more than a logo. And the other mistake they often make is not considering how this “logo” will translate across different platforms – print, web, social media, signage, uniforms and more. None of these should be developed in isolation.
At the end of the day, copywriters such as myself, won’t really be able to help you until you have your brand right. Check out my top 10 branding tips below.
Think of your brand as your business “personality” and that personality needs to appeal to your target audience. And please remember, having access to Microsoft Publisher and a laser printer may mean you CAN design and print your own marketing communications, but it does not mean you SHOULD.
So, what makes a robust brand? And what do you need to consider when developing – not to mention maintaining and strengthening – it? These 10 steps will help:
Have a quality product or service
Well, duh. But you wouldn’t believe how many times this is skipped – especially in those scammy online get-rich-quick scenarios. Spend time developing and researching your product or service before even thinking about branding.
Define your target market
Please don’t say your target is “everyone”. It is not. Yes, everyone may eat cake, but not everyone wants high-quality, hand-made and decorated children’s cakes starting at $150 each. So in this scenario, your target market might be “women aged 25-40 with young children who want – and have the disposable income for – unique birthday cakes”.
Know what drives your ideal client
Sit down and put yourself in their shoes. If your target is mums who use cloth nappies, then they are likely to be driven by family values and environmental concerns, rather than by money or recognition. Once you’ve worked this out, the way you communicate to them should come easily. Find their pain points, and solve them!
What’s in a name?
Have a think about the emotion you want people to feel when they hear your name. What image it conjures up, or what value it reflects. Do plenty of brainstorming, look up quotations, check out names of competing (and complementary) businesses, ask around, get a feel for what works. The name Black Coffee Communication came to me after doing a brain dump on what I wanted my business to portray and then I came across the Anne Morrow Lindbergh quote: “Good Communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after”. Bingo!
A strong logo
Please, do me a favour, don’t just grab some random image off the web, add your business name and call it a logo. At the very least, this is unprofessional, and at worst, it could infringe on someone else’s trademark and you could find yourself up for civil damages. A good designer, on the other hand, will research your target audience and your business “personality” and come up with something just right.
What colours or typography to use
Not just in your logo but across all written material, uniforms, signage, website palette more.
Different fonts and font sizes evoke different moods, as do different colours. And whatever you do, make sure you stay consistent throughout.
Like your colours and typography, your message also needs to be consistent. This helps you to develop rapport with your audience and set yourself up as subject matter expert.
Price and positioning
This reflects what end of the market your product or service is aiming at. If you are aiming at the high end of the market – people with plenty of disposable income who are likely to spend $50 on a handmade child’s outfit, rather than $15 at Target, then your message needs to speak to them, and needs to be heard in the right places. This means not using words such as “only” $50, or “just” $50, and not being seen at “bargain” markets or outlets. On the other hand, if your business is high volume, low profit margin, you need to ensure you don’t put off your target by appearing more expensive than you are.
This comes down to the nitty-gritty, like how your phone is answered, what your email signatures look like, what state your staff’s uniforms are in. One bad customer service experience and you could damage your brand forever. Good customer service, however, strengthens the brand, even when people can find your product or service cheaper elsewhere.
Your brand “promise”
It’s a good idea to have a brand promise – overnight delivery; money-back guarantee, first consultation free. But don’t have a promise you can’t keep, because this can destroy your brand quicker than not having a promise at all. In fact, not only should you keep your promise, it doesn’t hurt to exceed expectations where you can.
There you have it, my 10 steps to developing and strengthening your brand. And here’s a bonus one – ongoing analysis, evaluation and repositioning. A brand is not a stagnant thing, it needs refreshing from time to time – remember when KFC was Kentucky Fried Chicken?
Oh, and don’t forget that if you truly want to protect your brand, then you must trademark it.
Hope these branding tips helped. And the best thing about getting your brand right, is that it makes my job of getting your marketing message heard so much easier.
And I thank you for that
‘Till next time