As an entrepreneur, you need to learn how to brand your business, products or services, but that’s difficult before you truly understand what branding is and how you can manage your brand.
So, what exactly is a brand? Simply put, a brand is the “feeling” people have about your company, product or service.
It’s the emotion that is brought forth when people see or hear information about your business or products.
What do you feel?
Take a minute and think about a few of your favorite brands.
What emotions do they evoke in you?
Chances are, those feelings aren’t unique to you. Most large companies spend a lot of money to create a very particular feeling in their customers. This process is called brand management.
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to remember that your brand is not what you think of feel about you or your company. Rather, it’s what your customers and the public think or feel about you.
Since your brand or “personality” is what your customers feel about your company, products or services, it’s your job to create the experience you want your customers to have. Then, the next step is to manage that experience as they continue to interact with your company.
That seems confusing and might leave you wondering exactly how you create the feelings you want your customers to experience. Just remember it’s a process, and it takes time, but once you understand the fundamental pieces of branding you’ll start to see how you can influence customers who are interacting with your business.
Branding is the process of connecting good strategy with creative pieces. A brand cannot thrive without both working together seamlessly. Combining brand strategy and brand creative is the biggest disconnect in most companies face as they try to build or manage a brand.
What exactly is a brand strategy? “Brand Strategy” might be a term you’ve never even heard of, but this portion of brand development makes up a huge piece of your overall brand. Brand strategy refers to how your company behaves. What you say and how you interact with your customers.
To start building a strategy, you answer these three important questions for your business.
Once you figure out those three pieces, it’s important to communicate them over and over again to your customer base.
So, if you just answer those three questions, have you developed a brand strategy for your organization?
The truth is, Brand Strategy includes a lot of moving pieces. In addition to these three questions, Brand Strategy includes things like:
And then, once you have all of those in place the real work of brand strategy begins. You have to follow your plan. You have to stay true to your messages. You have to live out the plan that you’ve created for your business. At that point, you will start building your brand strategy!
You are probably more familiar with the second piece of brand development – the Brand Creative.
For creatives, building brand creative is often easier, but sticking to it can still be a real challenge! Growing a brand takes time, and staying consistent over time is a real struggle for most entrepreneurs.
This portion includes all the visual elements of your brand, including:
Since it’s so easy to deviate from your brand, it’s critical that you develop brand guidelines. These guidelines will give you basic rules to follow for your brand and help you stay true to your brand design.
Once you’ve developed your Brand Strategy and Brand Creative, it’s time to pull everything together and start building and managing your brand. The key to consistency is time. Building a brand means looking, feeling and sounding the same every time you interact with your customers (or potential customers).
It means following the guidelines you have developed and staying true to your messaging. It can be challenging for sure, but there a lot of great benefits that will come from developing a brand for your business.
I often explain it this way. If my personal brand is my personality, then my logo would be my face or profile picture. If you know me, then when you see my photo you have an automatic feeling about me based on my personality and our previous interactions. However, if you don't know me, seeing my picture doesn't give you enough information to have a feeling about me.
It's the same with your logo. Your logo might give some hints about what your business is or what you do, but people will need to interact with your business before they truly understand your brand.
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