Eight Steps to Developing a Company Brand Your Customers Will Love
Below is an eight step guide to developing your brand for your target audience.
1. Define what you do
So many brands fail because they try to be too many things to too many different people. In 2008, coffee giants Starbucks closed 600 stores across the US as the brand had grown so fast it had lost its core brand values. The company had saturated the marketplace with a store on every corner offering extensive drinks options, food, branded merchandise and even music rather than just focusing on their core offering of great coffee.
By not focusing on their key product, Starbucks alienated its original fans. You need to decide what your core offering is and focus on it.
For Cocoa Cola, for example, their core offering is soft drinks, at Pure Ink our core offering is copywriting, at the Disney Store their core offering is about creating a magical experience for kids (of all ages!) through TV, film, books, games and other merchandise.
2. Define your values
Although you don’t need an elaborate mission statement to define your values, you do at least need to know what you stand for as a business. McDonalds’ key value is ‘to be our customers' favourite place and way to eat’ and they do this through putting the customer experience first, the company’s tagline ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ reflects this too. Ben and Jerry’s clearly define their values on their website, placing the emphasis on running their business in an ethical way which is reflected in their range of Fair Trade ice creams.
Think about what’s important in your business. Is it investing in your staff? Is it caring for the environment? Is it continually creating innovative products?
Decide what is most important to you and use this as the backbone of your branding by expressing this in everything from your copywriting and design work to how you make your products or operate your service.
3. Be different
A clear and unique brand is the ideal way to stand out from your competitors, especially if your business is similar to theirs. Use the information you’ve gathered from defining what you offer and what your values are, and then think about how this makes you different.
Taking the example of ice cream again, Ben and Jerry’s is a completely different brand to Haagen Dazs but they both sell tubs of ice cream.
Ben and Jerry’s focus on fun with flavours such as Caramel Chew Chew, Fossil Fuel and Dough-ble Whammy whereas Haagen Dazs concentrate on indulgence and aim their brand at a more serious, adult audience. Both companies are extremely successful and can exist alongside each other as their brands are very different and appeal to different audiences.
4. Speak to a designer and a copywriter
When you have a clear idea of what you offer, your business values, how you are different and who your target audience are then it’s time to speak to a designer and a copywriter.
Good designers will listen to you and guide you through the design process, suggesting company colours and ideas for your logo which reflect the brand you’re building. Copywriters will help you define the ‘voice’ of your brand and how you, as a business, talk to your customers. If you’re unsure of what a brand ‘sounds’ like take a look at leading brands such as Benefit, Hotel Chocolat and Innocent Smoothie.
5. Claim your name
It’s not just claiming your domain name that you need to think about but also claiming your business name on the many social media platforms. Each individual business uses social media in a different way but as a rule, most customers will expect your business to have a Twitter and Facebook account. Having the same brand name on your social media account as your domain name and email address makes it easier for your customers to recognise your brand.
6. Tell a story
Storytelling in business enables customers to relate to your business. It makes spreading the word about your business easier as a gripping, funny or touching story is easy to remember, talk about and pass on. Telling a unique story is also a key way to distinguish your brand from competitors.
To create your story, think about what made you want to start your business. It could be a Cinderella tale of triumph over hardship, perhaps you’ve developed a family business or have created a product to solve a problem you’ve had yourself.
Your passion for your business will shine through your story and engage potential customers. If you don’t know where to start then visit Facebook and check out how brands such as Subway, The New York Times and Ford are telling their stories from the beginning.
7. Create a brand style guide
Once you have a clear idea of your brand you need to protect it and ensure that everyone in the company knows what your brand is and are as passionate as you are about keeping it intact. A brand style guide documents the key elements of your brand including what shades are used in your brand colours and what words can and can’t be used in your marketing literature.
8. Involve the whole company in your brand
Talk to your team about the company brand as well as they will interact with your customers and should be representing your brand in a positive light.
As an example, the company Hollister Co. have a very hip brand which is targeted at fashionable teenagers, the team who work in the shops are stylish, fashion conscious and good looking – walking adverts of the Hollister Co. brand.
If people in your company don’t embrace your brand then this can undermine what you are trying to achieve and can also send mix messages to your customers. Keep the whole team informed about your brand and get them involved as much as possible.
Branding is not just for big, established businesses and by following these guidelines above you can introduce a strong brand to your small or start up business.
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