What does your brand say about you as a company? This article explains what branding is, why it's so important and how you go about changing your brand image.
Why should I care about branding?
People often think of a brand as just a logo but it's so much more than this. Branding relates to everything you do and say as a company. Your brand tells the story of who you are. But most importantly, your brand reflects how a person feels about you. This feeling is made up of thousands of interactions which all get stored away in a person's mind.
Each of us has subconcious 'dossiers' stored in our brains on thousands of companies. Everytime they see your logo, website, signage, brochure etc, this gets put into their 'folder' on you. But also everytime they speak to you on the phone, meet with you, receive an email, use your product or service, this also gets added to this subconscious dossier on your brand.
So when thinking about your brand, dont just think of the visual representation of it, you need to think about how your whole company presents itself to the outside world. From how you answer the phone, to how your website is designed, this all adds up to how a person feels about you, ie., your brand.
Isn't branding just for big business?
Absolutely not. I would argue branding is equally important for small companies. Large companies have big marketing budgets which they can use to manipulate how people feel about their company. SMEs have far less to spend on influencing their public persona.
SMEs must rely on a much more personal interaction with their customers. This is how they can determine their brand as opposed to multi-million pound TV campaigns, for example.
So how do I change our brand?
Firstly, you need to decide who you are and how you want people to feel about you. This is harder than it sounds. You need to get to the real core of who you are as a company and what exactly you do. Take a good hard look in the mirror and decide what is your real point of difference from your competitors.
Once you've determined your core brand values, you then need to instil these into ALL of your staff. Everyone must believe in your brand and convey a consistent message to the outside world.
Next, you need to visually represent this message with a strong, clear, and consistent brand identity, ie., your logo, stationery, website, brochures, etc.
Internally, you need to ensure that everyone adheres to your brand identity with a strict set of brand guidelines.
Finally, when thinking about branding remember that a potential customer knows absolutely nothing about you when they first land on your website or pick up the phone. Every single interaction thereafter with you, your marketing, and your services, ultimately determines your brand in their eyes.