You’ve developed an attention-getting business name and a logo that reflects it—and trademarked them, of course! Now how do you use these elements to brand your business?
When you start a business, first, it’s important to understand what branding is. Often misunderstood, branding is different than marketing or advertising, but marketing and advertising are used to brand a business. Confused? Think of your brand as the “personality” of your business—the feeling you want prospective customers to have when they think about your products and services. Your brand might be homespun or sophisticated, all-American or exotic, cutting-edge or retro.
Got it? Now, start by understanding your brand. Can you sum up what your brand stands for in one sentence? For example, “Helping Hands is the in-home care service that provides seniors with friendly care, and their loved ones with peace of mind.” If you haven’t already done so, create a mission statement sharing your company’s ongoing mission. For example, “Helping Hands enables seniors to age in their own homes while staying healthy, safe and happy, and eliminates care and worry for their loved ones.”
If you have employees, they are the front line in conveying your brand to prospects and customers. Share your brand identity and mission statement with your team, and talk about what “living” that brand might look like. For example, the business above would want employees to be friendly and approachable. However, their dress, grooming and equipment should reflect professionalism. They might need to communicate regularly with seniors’ families to ease their minds.
Promoting a consistent visual identity is key to building your brand. Your visual identity stems from your logo, which should appear on all of your marketing and advertising materials, from your employees’ uniforms and your business cards to your business website, product packaging, signage and ads.
However, your visual identity goes far beyond your logo. As you work with graphic designers and website developers to create other elements of your marketing materials—such as signage, uniforms or restaurant décor—make sure they pull the same colors, style and graphics of your logo into the new designs. If you use consistent visual elements throughout all your marketing materials, the repetition will condition customers to associate these elements with your brand.
Social media offers a whole new way to expand your brand. Create social media accounts for your brand, using your logo and any other visual elements that identify your brand. Then share and post content that reflects your brand identity. For example, if your brand is snarky and humorous, you might post funny memes or GIFs—but that wouldn’t be appropriate for the home healthcare business I mentioned earlier. For that business, sharing informational articles or resource links about senior care would make more sense. When in doubt, think back to the personality concept: when posting anything, consider whether it reflects your brand’s personality.
Last, but not least, make sure you are living your brand values. Are the way you act and the things you do reflecting the brand? For the home healthcare business I mentioned, getting involved with community organizations that help seniors, participating in senior-related or health-related community events, or contributing to charitable organizations can all help to build your brand image.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot to build a business brand. Something as simple as including your logo at the bottom of every email you send can make a difference in cementing your brand in customers’ minds. The key to brand building success is being consistent, and that’s something every business can do.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.
Image: Dollar Photo Club