It would be surprising if you’ve never heard the term “brand” before. Whether you are a blogger looking for readers to recognize you across social media platforms, or a large corporation looking to stand out in an over saturated market, some of the most heard advice would be to build your brand. In fact, it’s used so often and in so many different ways that we can sometimes lose its meaning.
Originally, the term “brand” indicated how cattle ranchers would mark their cows to differentiate them from other ranchers’ cows. Over time the meaning has evolved – while it has often been associated with logos and symbols that represents a company, it also includes any and all perceived values and truths of your organization or your personal identity. In the most basic sense, a brand is everything and anything that represents your company, as well as everything (and anything) that people think about your company.
How can we start to create the branding we want?
When looking at what you want others to perceive as your brand, you need to decide what the important values of your company, organization or yourself are. Do you want your customers to know about your professionalism and your reliability? Or are you more concerned with your customers knowing your success rate? What about them knowing what if you specialize in something niche and specific?
Always focus on what you most want people to know about your company when ever you are thinking about how you want to represent yourself.
How do people become familiar with our brand?
Familiarity with your company’s message is a hugely important facet in when developing your brand. This is where brand consistency comes in. Keeping a consistent message across all mediums will help you more easily build that familiarity. Seeing the same message over and over again, whether it’s in printed material, on your website, over social media, or in face-to-face experiences, will help reinforce in your customers minds what your brand image is.
When developing a strategy to build your brand, working with marketers and designers can help you focus on what aspects of your brand you really want to focus on and build. These are the people who are going to be able to help you develop the tools to create and support your company’s brand.
Why is brand consistency important to us?
Consistency with the messages that you send out to the public are a big part of building your brand. Whether it’s a blog post, an advertisement, or even just an update on Twitter – you always want to be supporting your values. Sending conflicting messages out can confuse your customers and actually negate the time and money that you’ve already put into building your brand.
Consistency with imagery is just as important. The phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words” is used for a reason – pictures can help convey ideas and feelings that can support the messages you are bringing across.
Consistency with logos, fonts, icons and symbols also help potential customers relate all the different messages they are seeing, and help people remember that all the messages they are receiving are coming from the same source.
How can we create brand consistency?
This is where a style guide can come in handy. A style guide is meant to remind you, your employees and anyone who may be working to develop some of your marketing materials how your company should be represented, whether through imagery or through written content. Usually, a style guide will also include how your logo should (and cannot) be used, as well as which fonts and colours can be used to represent you. These aspects are all important to help build materials in a manner that can best build and support your brand.
If you don’t have one yet, I definitely recommend that you take the time to work with someone who can help you develop a set of brand guidelines. If you already have a style guide at your disposal – familiarize yourself with it. It’s meant to be a tool to help you develop a brand for your company.
A brand is everything that your customers perceive your company to be. Giving customers a positive, consistent representation of your company will help you build your brand, and help you build your business.