Creating and cultivating a strong, consistent brand is important for all aspects of your business. It gives your customers an idea of what to expect and helps you stand out from the competition. Communicating in a consistent manner builds brand loyalty and recognition — crucial factors that help your business succeed. The beginning of a new year is a great time to take a look at your current brand and determine what you could do better. In some cases a rebrand may be in order, but often a brand refresh is all that's needed to keep your brand identity current.
What, Exactly, Is Branding You Ask?
Your brand is a promise you make to your customer, by what you say and how you say it. It tells your website's visitors what they can expect from your products and services, and differentiates your offering(s) from that of your competitors.
Your brand represents who you are and who people perceive you to be. In other words, designing a great logo does not mean you automatically have a strong brand, it's merely one aspect. In building your brand — or re-branding your current business — you should consider these five branding aspects.
Brand Positioning: The first step is telling the world who you are. Are you the innovative up-and-comer in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable brand? Is it a luxury product, or a more affordable option? You can't be both, and you can't be all things to all people. Ideally, your business model is based on a consumer need that needs to be filled. Tell people, in an authentic way, why they need your product or service. A good brand positioning statement should encapsulate your brand's essence and preferably be no longer than a few sentences
Visual Identity: The visual aspects of a brand are often what tends to stick with people. Core components of a visual identity are usually a logo, color scheme, typography and other graphic elements, as well as design of things like your packaging and website. The visual identity helps ensure consistency across all platforms — from printed materials to website.
Brand Voice: A strong brand needs to communicate in a consistent tone of voice. This usually starts with a strong tagline and extends to all written communications. It includes everything from what words should be used to what social channels your brand opts to cultivate. Honesty, transparency and authenticity are important factors. Brand loyalty grows from consumer confidence, which is earned through trust and experience.
Brand Culture: A brand grows from the inside out. Cultivating a strong internal brand culture is an essential part of the branding process. Employees need to be immersed in all aspects of a brand's values in order to be able to deliver a consistent experience to customers. Happy employees also result in less turnover, which not only improves the customer experience, but is better for the company's bottom line.
Communication Channels: Where do customers find you? Unless they come across your products in a store, that's probably online. Does your website accurately represent your brand? Is it easy to use? Can customers find all the information they need without digging through unnecessary layers? If your answer to all these questions is not yes, then it's probably time for a redesign. In most cases, your website is the most important representation of who you are and needs to reflect your brand's values, visual identity, voice and culture.
If your business is lacking in any of these five areas, it's probably time for a brand refresh. Building a strong brand helps you stand out in a saturated marketplace and ensures that customers — once you find them — remain loyal for life.