When you start a new business, there is a real sense of excitement and ownership around creating something which is completely yours. Watching an idea take shape – often an idea that you have long nurtured before being in a position to take it to the next stage, can be both terrifying and exhilarating. The responsibility is all yours, as is its success – and its failure.
The branding of your company is going to be an essential element to get right – and it is often the most difficult. Bad branding will sit with you and keep you at as disadvantage. Good branding will carry you through to success.
Don’t overcomplicate it
Your brand should be instantly recognisable to your target audience. If you are just starting up, then it will take time for your brand to establish itself and become more familiar. In the meantime, you need to ensure it portrays your activity and values in a clear and simple way. There is no need to overcomplicate it. If you run a punting company in Cambridge, for example, you are already at an advantage because the city is renowned for its punting. The city and the activity are synonymous – use this and play on it.
Branding is more than just a logo
People often confuse branding with creating a company logo. The logo is just a tiny part of it. Some companies spend tens of thousands on making sure that their logo is just right. Or you can download and amend a simple template on Canva free of charge.
Think about what it means to have something hurt your brand? It is not your logo that has been insulted – rather your company as a whole, your values, the story of how you got there, the way you talk and communicate – all these are crucial elements of your brand.
Take time out to really clarify your brand and think about how it makes people feel – and how you want it to make people feel. This is what will set your company apart for your competitors. You don’t want to be a ‘me too’, but to stand tall and confident in your own company proposition. Be unique.
Create consistency across all channels
Mixed messages complicate things and will turn your potential customers away, so it is crucial that your branding is consistent across all your different channels – both internal and external. Don’t let anyone near a customer until they have fully grasped the nature of your brand, how it drives company values, how it leads the industry, what it is like to work for, what you want to achieve.
If your website does not match your brochures, if your sales teams pitch in completely different styles, if your company goals are misaligned to your company’s activities, then the overall message your potential customer gets is confusing – and the confused mind doesn’t buy.
Your brand is as much about your audience as you
Your audience needs drive your company activities, and to this end your brand identity should be based upon the concerns, needs, preferences and lifestyles of your target audience. Don’t be afraid to alienate some people. The marmite effect – people will either love you or hate you, will actually help you to establish and grow your brand much more robustly then trying to please every one with a more vanilla approach.
The more you know and understand your audience, the more you can work their needs into your brand. Don’t be afraid to niche customer characteristics down as far as possible. Internet marketing means that you have many more opportunities to be very specific in targeting your ideal client.