By Steve Thomas. Steve is a copywriter for Spencer Brenneman, LLC and his post originally appeared on http://spencerbrenneman.com/brand-strategy-blog/. Spencer Brenneman President Douglas Spencer is an expert in brand strategy.
We love telling our clients that successful businesses start with brand. No, not because it sounds pretty (it totally does though, right?), but because we know that businesses who understand their brand at its core understand its potential for growth and success. Put another way, your brand is a foundation—the starting point that supports successful construction of a business and all the decision making, strategies, and hard work that go into it. But what’s in a brand, and how can you encapsulate your passion into a framework that can guide decisioning?
Branding construction has two important facets that turn an idea into a business foundation: passion and business goals. One without the other simply isn’t enough, but when properly combined, they make all the difference. In this post, we’ll highlight how a brand helps encourage business success, and list tips you can use to get to the heart of your brand and accurately map out your brand to help guide your business decisioning.
“Brands are the foundations on which successful businesses are built.”
The Benefits of Proper Brand Construction
Like anything done correctly, there are certain benefits that come with a job well done. Some might be short-term, others can pay dividends in the long-run. In this notion, branding is no different. Not convinced? With a proper brand as the framework for your business, you’ll begin to see:
- A shortened sales cycle: today’s consumers are in the driver’s seat of their own experiences with businesses. As a result, they only do business with the ones that provide an experience that resonates with them. With a strong brand, you’re delivering experiences that pair your business with the customers who resonate with what your business stands for—even if it costs them a bit more than your competitors.
- Marketing effort assistance: one of the biggest facilitators of business success is successful marketing, and what helps facilitate successful marketing? You guessed it—a professional brand. With the right brand, you can gain actionable insights into where your business’s key differentiators lie and use those insights for successful marketing efforts that grow your business.
- Referrals: have you ever gone to a store or business that absolutely blew you away? Maybe it was the customer service, maybe it was the location’s design and ambiance. Either way, if it made an impact, it’s a safe bet you’ve mentioned it to someone. With a strong brand, you’re highlighting how your business provides the “wow” factor that gets people talking.
- Increased repeat business: if customers are referring your business to their friends and family, they’re likely coming back before going to a competitor. Simply put, brands built with the right strategy help reassure consumers that there isn’t a need to go to another business.
Understanding Your Business from a Personal Perspective
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again; brands have (or should have) personalities. Sure, your business might sell the same products, offer the same services, or hold similar value propositions as the competition, but in the end, it’s different. The question is…are those differences going to drive value for your business or hurt your bottom line?
When it comes to building your brand, it helps to think of it as a person. One with its own face, voice, name, and mannerisms that help convey its unique personality to potential customers, while giving current customers a reason to come back. With this in mind, here are a few elements to help you get started:
- The face: the face of the business is the visual style guide you carry into every presentation your business makes. From logos, to brick-and-mortar storefront colors, website design to the arrangement of your products; if your brand takes has its own face, you ensure that every element is striking, coherent, and in-line with your style.
- The voice: the voice is how your business communicates with customers, employees, and the public. By ensuring that your business has an established voice, you’re providing a consistent experience for consumers that solidifies their experience across marketing efforts, face-to-face interaction, and digital communication.
- The name: naming extends far beyond what you’ve decided to call your business. Elements like products, menu items, services, etc. all need names that are equally thought out as your actual business name. Plus, with well-thought out naming strategy, what you call your offerings can help tell your brand’s story. With a brand in place that has naming in mind, you can maintain your unique style across your business’s digital and physical presence.
- The mannerisms: your business’s mannerisms are the guidelines for how your business interacts with consumers. Depending on the way all members of your business act in front of consumers will have a serious impact on whether or not they have a good experience with your business and having a brand to guide these interactions helps ensure that it’s consistent, memorable, and above all, positive.
- For example: Go into any Dunkin’ Donuts coffee chain, then a locally owned, small coffee shop. Notice any differences? For the most part, employees at these two coffee shops sell similar products and share common goals, but the way they interact with consumers provides two completely different experiences. One is commercialized, getting you what you want fast then moving on. The other offers a more personalized, unique experience.
When formulating your initial brand strategy, using these four guidelines for its construction can pay dividends when it comes to building a business that is unique, memorable, and facilitates successful growth. With this in mind, let’s move on to the second aspect of proper brand construction.
“When it comes to building your brand, it helps to think of it as a person.”
Understanding Your Business Goals
Now that we’ve established how a properly constructed brand can help with a unified and memorable presentation, it’s time to think about how you can construct your brand to help meet your business goals. From a business development perspective, your brand solidifies your business’ reputation within its given market, helping maintain consistent growth and consumer loyalty.
As we mentioned earlier, brands are the foundations on which successful businesses are built. Again, it starts with brand. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the elements of brand construction that need you need to consider in order to create a brand that delivers long-term success:
- Target audience research: every personality connects with certain people, while driving others away. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, you can’t make everyone happy. If you try to make to create a brand that speaks to everyone, more likely than not, it won’t speak to anyone. With this in mind, it’s important you take the time to understand the target audience you want to cater to and develop your brand accordingly.
- Mission statement: if a brand’s personality is its appearance, a mission statement is its motivation. By distilling the passions that you bring to your business every day into your brand, you ensure that that passion is shown across your business, from C-level to entry level.
- Competitive research: you know the saying, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Yeah, not in the business world. If you’re not differentiating your business from the slews of competition, you’re missing out on opportunity for new business. As such, it’s important to research who your competition is—what their strengths and weaknesses are, how they position themselves in the market, and how you can do better. Through research and a great brand, you can make sure you stand out for the right reasons and offer better value.
Putting the Pieces Together
So, there it is. The two most important aspects of effective and consistent brand construction: a personal perspective (viewing what kind of “person” you want your business to be), and understanding your business goals (and how to incorporate them into your brand elements). Combining these two facets will help influence how your brand appears in the consumer eye, how it will interact with them to provide a memorable experience, and how it can assist long-term success through proper market positioning. When you combine all these pieces into one cohesive plan, you’ll arm yourself with a brand that’s 100% unique to your business that will stand the test of time.