The success of the big iconic brands that lead their respective industries has further reinforced the long-aged fact that building a lasting brand involves more than designing or redesigning a company logo. The success of some other select few who are yet to get to the Forbes list also shows that everyone of us – small and medium scale businesses can actualise that enclave of a built to last brands.
Below, I share (an ellaborate) checklist ingredients of building a brand.
Exclusively, your brand is not a logo, not a colour or your products/services. Your brand is more than that. It’s a culmination of the entire feeling or perception people. It becomes paramount to build your brand bearing in mind, the what the people want. What are their values and what experiences do they want to go home with? Build your brand around their expectation, instead of just your logo or colour.
Remember it’s customers first. If the claims you make about your business and its offer don’t tally with customer experience, they will go elsewhere. I once shared how a post here on retaining your existing customers by ensuring they don’t have a second experience comparable to that of your brand. Your brand needs to deliver on what it promises, and even more, that’s the only way to make them blind to your competition.
Develop the super power to listen to all and at all time. The legendary story of the 9 blind men and the elephant leaves us with the lesson that a single story is subject to interpretations. Don’t assume anything. Find out what your customers’ association of your brand is. The need for a change or re-alignment becomes important if their association of your brand is negative or somewhere out of track on what you want it to be. But first, you must learn to listen to the unspoken words, to know when to change your brand offer, re-visit your strategy or even review your entire business.
Build your brand inside-out. Involve your employees and other internal stakeholders with the brand process. Your employees for instance will have their own idea of what your business is and should be. Most of them are closer to your customers and prospects and so are haven for information for your brand. For instance, the contact person who takes business and inquiry calls for your firm will be a good resource when it comes to identifying your customers’ pain points. Aside that, turning them to your brand ambassadors will also be a healthy situation for your brand.
Craft your brand messaging: Your brand message is your passport. It should be crafted around your brand personality and attributes. And that’s the most interesting thing as your focus should be on the qualities, values and experiences that you want customers to associate your business with. Without it, you will be not be able to avoid being a me-too brand.
Be Aggressive With Your Visual Brand. Your visual identity goes beyond your logo into everything about the sense of sight and cognition, as it relates with your brand. Be intentional with design. What’s your overall identity? Is your brand of bright and spicy? Use bright colours to represent that. Is it casual? Represent this with a choice of fonts that is not serious looking. Because you may not have the necessary skills, I advise you employ a great and not a good designer to help you.
Execute! Your brand collateral is meant to be functional an not decorative. Your brand guideline/brand bible is not meant for the top of the shelf, or that place you have left it under the pile of files, at one corner of your office. It is your map to implementing your brand. Its place is the nearest corner of your table where you can easily reach it. If you have to stand up to pick it, then you won’t pick it. Let all your brand materials- print materials, annual report, signage, letter, business card – be put to work for the right purpose.
It’s a Team Work. Don’t work on your brand building alone, except you are a solo-preneur or a startup who literally can’t take in a new person. But the thing is, involve your employees. Explain to them, every action they should take and don’t forget to tell them the why. No one likes to be pushed around, so genuinely get them involved.
Promote. Promote. Promote. New brand is not about who you know, but who knows you. We’ve already said it that you shouldn’t dump your brand assets at one corrner of your office. Yet again, even if your company is a family business, your family members won’t bring you the return on investment. Collaborations, special offers, PR and advertising are some of the ways to start with this.
Review and Revise Your Brand. If I was allowed to contribute to the classification of living things those days in primary school, I would definitely add brands among the class of animals and human beings. Yes. Your brand is living. Therefore, growth becomes one of its unalienable characteristics. And on the same couch with growth is change. So to enjoy the great feelings that come with the growth of your brand, you must also enshrine into your game plan, the actionable steps to review and revise your brand as time passes by.