chapter 2 -new

In this chapter we are going to look at the vital matter of branding – literally ‘making a name for yourself’. If you think of major successful businesses their name immediately brings into your mind lots of impressions about the company – many good ones, others perhaps negative. Think about this list – McDonalds, Coke, Apple, Dow Chemicals, Blackberry, Pizza Hut, Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs. Do you see how you can put a whole list of feelings and ideas next to these names, ranging from hunger, fear, admiration, envy, and many more? That is the goal for your company – that within at least the smaller circle of those who know you, your name will immediately bring up pleasant feelings, and good thoughts.

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What Is Branding?

Branding is the name given to the act of using a name, image, logo, term, sign, symbol, or any combination of the above, to identify a person or company. It is the act of using something simple to help consumers identify your company. Most importantly of all, branding is ultimately about creating your public image. Designing logos and graphics is only the start – those are just a tool for identifying your business, but your brand is about everything that you are – what you stand for and the feelings consumers have about your company.

Why Is Branding Important?

The use of logos and slogans is important because it gives the public something that instantly identifies your company. Every time they see your logo or hear your tag line, they will immediately think of your company. A personal brand is an invaluable marketing tool that every company must utilize properly. Anything that will help consumers remember your business, and separate it from the competition, is vital to the success of your business.

Many people think that branding ends with the creation of a suitable logo and a catchy company slogan. However, that is only the beginning. Your logo is an almost empty box, into which you must put the image of your company. Good graphics and the use of color can begin to create an image or mood – for example, a business card in calm greens and neutrals sends a different message from one with exploding fireworks on it. You can see that quality graphics begin to tell customers what your company is about, but after that it is a matter of building associations with the brand, via advertising and social media. Only then have you truly created your ‘brand’.

Branding is important: Case Study

The Kellogg brothers, Dr. John Harvey and Will Keith, created corn flakes in 1897. Dr. John had a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, offering health-treatments based on his religious beliefs. With his recipe for a healthy breakfast food, W.H. founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company with an initial staff of 44. Today their global market-share is around 28%. Despite some declines in recent years, the company still has almost 16% of the US market, and it is much larger in the UK, at 37%. Although today suffering from competition with breakfast foods that can be eaten on the run, like fruit-and-nut bars, the Kellogg brand has dominated the breakfast cereal market for over 100 years and diversified to produce a wide range of breakfast foods, while staying true to the original image created around the brand – a healthy breakfast.

As an example of branding success, the All-Bran brand grew steadily between the 1930s and the 1990s, mainly on the strength of medical support for a high-fiber diet, which was widely promoted by doctors, especially in the 70s and 80s. Using its all-ready-existing reputation as the provider of healthy breakfasts, Kellogg made All-Bran the ‘go to’ high-fiber cereal. Kellogg already had a leg-up in the health market, because they had an existing reputation for health based on the company’s origins as a spa. Advertising for All-Bran focused on images of sports, fitness, families glowing with health – and perhaps most important of all, young, healthy, slim women. Add-on brands such as Special-K and Raisin Bran came at the same market, but exploited smaller niches, and made the original product more palatable to men, while keeping the health benefits. In addition, by putting more brands owned by Kellogg into the same market, they made it harder for competitors to gain a foothold.

8 Steps to Branding Your Company

Step One: Define Your Business

Before developing a plan for the branding of your company, the first step is some in-depth research. To begin you must define your business.

When defining your business, think about the following questions:

  • What purpose does your business serve?
    This question is about the niche your business occupies, and your core activity in relation to your customers. For example you might exist to give people affordable, custom-made clothing. Your company goal might be to offer a great start to everyone’s morning with a fresh cup of coffee. Your business’s purpose may be as straightforward as offering individuals a simple tax preparation service. Think about what exactly it is that your business does for your customers. That will be the answer to this first question.

  • What is it you want your company to do best?
    What one thing would you like your business to do best? If you already have an existing business, ask yourself what it is you already do best. Perhaps you make the most durable clothing, or you create the best cappuccinos the world has ever seen. Often, when asked this question, business owners do not have an answer. If that sounds like you, this is a good time to reflect on what you do and decide what it is that you would like to do best. If your cappuccinos are not the best in the world, what can you do to make them so?

    If you are setting up a new business, then this question is vital to your success. Think about famous companies. Each one of them offers something that is the best – the best soft drink (Coke/Pepsi); the best computer (Apple); or the best shoes (Manolo Blahnick). Notice that all these things can (and are) disputed, but the idea or feeling of ‘best’ probably comes to mind when you hear these brands, even if you personally don’t agree they actually are ‘the best’. That is successful branding.

    Searching for, and finding, the answer to this crucial question will pinpoint the strongest, most marketable aspect of your company.

  • What would you like your business to accomplish?
    We might think of this as your reputation, what you would like to be known for. Ask yourself what the ultimate goal of your business is. Perhaps you want to make unique clothing affordable by everyone, no matter what his or her budget is. Maybe you want to make sure that a delicious cup of coffee is always available to start a person’s morning off right. What you wish to accomplish does not have to be huge, but it does to be something which is important to your customers.

  • What would you like people to associate with your business?
    What will set your company apart? What would you like to come into the mind of a customer when they think of you? It doesn’t have to be a product. It doesn’t even have to be something to do with your niche. It can be those things, of course, but what other things do you do that you that people associate with your business? ‘Outstanding customer service’ or ‘super-fast deliveries’ are good examples of other aspects of a business that cross niches – quickest delivery of pizza, or quickest delivery of business documents, are the same thing in different industries, for example.

Another way to think about this process is to consider three things:

  • What are your skills? Write down what you have been trained to do, or what you know how to do.
  • What are the needs of your customers? What do you think your customers want – the cheapest coffee or the best coffee? Do they want quick service or a relaxing place to sit?
  • What separates you from the competition? Imagine that you are on a street that is a row of coffee shops. Why would someone walking down that street come to your shop instead of all the others?

Write down the definition of your business. Here are some examples for coffee shops, so that you can see the possibilities and diversity of definitions:

  • A friendly coffee shop that always has freshly brewed coffee with homemade cookies, clean washrooms and comfortable chairs.
  • A specialty coffee shop that features unique fair-trade coffees from around the world, and with an emphasis on environmental responsibility.
  • A fast-service coffee shop with an ‘out the door in three minutes or free’ policy.
  • A European style coffee shop with daily papers, fresh croissant, classical music and sofas.

Step Two: Define Your Audience

Now that you have defined your business, you can move on to the second phase of your research, defining your audience. All your branding and marketing efforts will be useless without knowing who it is that you are targeting your efforts towards.

To define your audience, you can use a mixture of common sense, generalizations, and research. The first step in doing this is to determine what kind of people you are selling to. Analytics, keyword searches, social media, and generalized sales reports can help you to identify the kinds of people who make up your audience. Unless you have a very narrow business, there will be a variety of people, so you need to identify the major groups. This is done in several ways. You could try to find out who is the general market for your products, using keyword searches. You could look on social media to find who talks about products like yours. You can look at your own sales figures and whatever data you have in them. You could also do a survey of your customers. To get good results from a survey you may need to make a small offer to those who answer it – either on-line or in your business premises.

Using several different approaches is always going to be best, because each method has its own deficiencies, and different methods will give a more balanced picture. For instance, if you use an on-line survey, your results will be from the people who have the time and desire to do on-line surveys – not always a balanced sample. If you find search results about coffee shop customers in Manhattan, or Los Angeles, they are probably not going to be the same as in Phoenix, or Savannah.

To create worthwhile profiles of customers you need two sets of data – their demographics and their psychographics.

Demographics
Customer demographics are the basic facts about your customers. Think of them as a series of questions:

  • How old are your customers?

    • Are they high school students? Are they middle aged? Are they senior citizens? It could be a wide range of ages, or a very specific range. It just depends on what your company offers.
  • What is their gender?

    • Some products or services cater to males or females exclusively, while perhaps the majority of companies are targeting both genders equally. Consider that targeting a product toward the ‘wrong’ gender can be an effective strategy. Studies show that crossing gender boundaries can pay off.
  • What is their marital status?

    • This is also a useful piece of data, especially if your business allows you to make ‘couples’ offers, like a spa, restaurant or cruise line, for example.
  • Where do they live?

    • Do your customers live in a local area, or is your target area much larger than that? You may only do business in your own town, but if you are on-line, you are probably targeting everyone who lives in the United States. Maybe you have decided to sell internationally, but remember that can become complicated by shipping costs, customs and duties, payment of overseas purchase taxes and other issues. if you are small this may be something to consider for the future, or if you find there is an international demand based on overseas inquiries.
  • What is their race or ethnicity?

    • This may not be a question you are interested in, or want to ask, but some markets are weighted towards different groups, and if yours is, you may want to know if you are actually reaching them. If you sell food products for Asian cooking for instance, and you find that most of your customers are not Asian, then your marketing approach may need to be different.
  • What is their educational background?

    • This may be relevant and could guide you in your approach to advertising.
  • What is their income level?

    • Some products are for the ‘luxury’, or ‘high end’ market, and only those will plenty of disposable income can afford to buy them. Other products or services are ‘basics’, and price is a major consideration in making a purchase. Knowing what your customers can afford (or not) can certainly guide you both in the products you offer, the margins you use, and the overall ‘tone’ of your web site.
  • What do they do for a living?

    • Do the people who purchase your product work in a certain career or a particular industry? Are they stay-at-home parents? Are they students in grade school, high school or college?

Psychographics
If demographics tell you who your customers are, psychographics tell you why they buy your products.
Psychographics are about the kind of people your customers are. Do they value quality over price? Do they have limited free time? What do they feel about personal health and fitness? Is their career or their family the most important thing to them? What do they do to relax?

Obviously, the kinds of psychographic data you need to collect will depend on your business, but as an example of how important it can be, consider this. Imagine you have a site selling health-care products. A customer who cares about their health and values quality over price will not be interested in money-off coupons, but they will be interested in an on-line counseling service. If you do not know your customer, you will not understand why your coupon promotion did not work.

Some of the key psychographic metrics are:

Socio Economic Scale
This is a combined measure of income, occupation and education and can provide a useful, if broad, guide to your customers.

There are several systems used to talk about socio economic class, but here is one.

(Based on the work of Dennis Gilbert)

Class % of population Typical Characteristics
Capitalist class 1%
  • Top-level executives
  • Major politicians
  • Inherited wealth common
  • Educated at top schools
Upper middle class 15%
  • Highly-educated (often with graduate degrees)
  • Paid by salary, not by the hour
  • professionals and middle management
  • Able to set their own work patterns
Lower middle class 30%
  • Semi-professionals and artisans
  • Average standard of living
  • Most with some college education
  • Mostly white-collar jobs
Working class 30%
  • Clerical jobs and blue-collar workers
  • Standard of living varies depending on number of income earners in the home, but usually just adequate
  • High school education
Working poor 13%
  • Service industries, lower clerical work, lower blue-collar jobs
  • High economic insecurity and risk of poverty
  • Some high school education
Underclass 13%
  • Limited or no participation in the labor force
  • dependent on government welfare or pensions
  • Some high school education

Life Style
This is a good measure of broad tastes and inclinations. There are several systems used in marketing. This one is the Cross Cultural Consumer Characterization – or ‘4Cs’.

Type Education / employment Age Bracket Brand Choices Characteristics
Resigned Various Older Stresses safety, familiarity and economy
  • Rigid, strict, authoritarian and chauvinist values
  • Oriented to the past and to standard social roles
Struggler Physical or mechanical skills All ages Seeks impact and sensation
  • Alienated, disorganized.
  • Heavy consumers of alcohol, junk food, lotteries and trainers
Mainstreamer(the largest group) All All ages Favors big and well-known value for money ‘family’ brands
  • Domestic, conformist, conventional
  • Sentimental, passive, habitual
Aspirer Clerical/sales Younger Attractive packaging is more important than quality of contents
  • Materialistic, acquisitive, joiners
  • Sees externals, image, appearance
  • Attracted by charisma and fashion
Succeeder Top management All ages Choices based on reward, prestige – wants the very best
Also attracted to ‘caring’ and protective brands and stress relief
  • Strong goal orientation, confidence
  • Strong work ethic, organized
  • Supports status quo, social stability
Explorer Student Younger Seeks difference, sensation, adventure, indulgence and instant effect
The first to try new brands
  • High energy, autonomous
  • Seeks experiences, challenges, new frontiers
Reformer Higher Education Typically younger, but can be all ages Looks for intrinsic quality favours natural simplicity ‘small is beautiful’
Supports growth of new product categories
  • Freedom from restrictions
  • Personal growth, social awareness, value for time, independent judgment
  • Tolerant of complexity, anti-materialistic but intolerant of bad taste
  • Curious and enquiring

Other questions you should ask, that relate to psychometric measure are:

Why do they need your products or services?

  • Why is your product important to your target audience? This very important question is often overlooked. What do your customers need your products for? What do they use it for? How important is it to them? What does it mean to their life? You can see how a lifestyle classification can help you answer these questions.

What is their emotional response?

  • Customers have quick responses to products, based on their emotions, rather than rational analysis. A person’s simple ‘likes and dislikes’ are usually not so simple. Behind them is a combination of socio economic class and life style tendencies. Understanding why a customer likes, (or worse, dislikes) your product, is vital to improving your business.

Is there anything special or different about your target audience?

  • Are your products or services such that only a special or unique group of people would be interested in them or need them? Perhaps you want to sell products for left-handed people, or cater to very large or very small people.
    In the broader picture, niche marketing of this kind can be very lucrative if you are the only provider, or if you can develop good customer loyalty. However, a hairdresser who only cut the hair of blonde-haired people over six feet may be restricting their market a little too much!

Customer Personas
A good way to literally ‘put a face’ on all those anonymous numbers and types is to create customer personas.
A customer persona is a fictional person, like a character in a book or film. You will probably need several, unless you have a business for a very narrow niche. Thinking again of our coffee shop, you will probably have one kind of customer in the morning – younger, and in a hurry to get to work. Around 11 a.m., you may get some older people, doing their morning errands and taking a break. If you also offer simple lunches then you may see your morning crowd back again, and in the afternoon, you may get mothers meeting to socialize. If you stay open late you might get a single’s crowd, doing some work on their laptops, or relaxing with social media on their phones. Clearly, you need several customer personas to profile all these groups.

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Developing a customer persona
Developing good customer personas takes time and effort, but the results can be very useful in marketing. You need to use both the basic demographics you have collected, plus your own instincts about your customers. If you interact directly with them, face-to-face, on the phone, by email, SMS or chats, use that as an opportunity to collect information about them that will be useful in developing your personas.

Step Three: Create A Name For Your Brand

Your brand name is your business name, so you may already have a business with an existing name. If you have already created a business and are only now branding it, go ahead and move forward to step four. If you are creating and branding your business at the same time, continue reading.

Choosing a great name for your company is vital. This will be the first thing the majority of customers will see or hear about your company. It should be something that will stick with them and that they will remember.

Here are a few tips to choosing a name for your business:

  • Steer away from anything obvious and widely used. Your company name should always be as unique as possible.
  • Always check to see if there is an existing trademark on the name you plan to use. If there is, you are out of luck and it is back to the drawing board. You must come up with something original and new.
  • It is important to relate your company’s name to the activities of your company. It needs to tell people what you are offering them, or at least give customers a general idea of your field. Consider your target audience. If your customers are mostly ‘explorers’ or ‘reformers’, names like ‘Cheap Stuff’ is not going to attract them.
  • Think about the general ‘look’ of your name. It should not be too long or too short, or with some trick or joke that will quickly look tired.
  • Google your proposed name and see if it is already in use, especially for something you do not want to be connected with. Imagine if you called your landscaping company ‘Heavenly Plots’, only to discover it was a firm of morticians!
  • Make sure the name is easy for your customers to understand. It should be easily readable, and only pronounceable in one obvious way. On the other hand, don’t discard a name just because it is unique – that could be its greatest strength.
  • Ask for input from friends, family, business connections and clients. What might seem great to you might not seem that way to them.
  • Ask yourself if the name is ready to use on the web. Will it work well on all of your online channels, like your blog, social media, and email lists?
  • Don’t limit yourself. If your coffee shop is called ‘Just Coffee’, then it is hard to expand into tea, cookies, and other related products.
  • Don’t rush. Make a short list, practice using different names and do some alternative graphics. As the saying goes, ‘act in haste, reflect at leisure’.

Step Four: Tell a Cross-Channel Story

Telling a cross-channel brand story is a great way to get your brand out there and help gain a bit of momentum. A brand story will set you apart from the competition and give you a unique selling point. It is first about making you stand out, and differentiates you from the competition, but more importantly it is about getting your clients to care about you and give you their loyalty.

A good story will have your customers passing three other coffee shops just to get to you. It should be the foundation of your brand and the source of your future growth. Your brand story should include the reason why you created your company. If you have a unique new product or service, it should also be the story of how you created that product.

Your brand story should be the primary motivator for you and your team and you all need to embrace it in everything you do. It will include the value of your brand in the lives of the types of customers you have, and so it will be a relationship-building tool for your company. It will be an insight into exactly who you are.

Remember that your brand story is not an ad.

Creating a story is actually much easier than people make it out to be. You already have the foundations for a great brand story, using your material from steps one through three. For this example, we are going to use a coffee shop.

  • Part One: What does your company do? Your company makes coffee.
  • Part Two: What authority do you have? Your company makes the best cappuccinos.
  • Part Three: Who is your audience? Your main audience is college students.

These naturally lead into:

  • Part Four: Build Your Brand Story.

For your coffee shop, you know all of the basics. Now you just have to turn it into a story. Here is a simple example of how to tell a brand story:

College students have busy lives. All the students want to do is grab a cappuccino before they head off to their first class of the day. Thankfully, your coffee shop makes the best, so the college students can start their day off right.

Notice that every important aspect of your company is covered. People now know your company makes coffee, and that you make the best cappuccinos. You have also clearly targeted college students. A good brand story is as simple as that!

The important thing is to make sure you market your brand story over multiple channels. This is why it is called a cross-channel brand story. Use social media, email, and your blog to get your brand story out there in the most effective way possible. Just be sure that you are staying true to your story and not placing contradicting information on your various online outlets.

If you are not sure how to write your brand story, perhaps you can let your customers write it for you. Collecting customer feedback, and putting up on your site what you mean to those customers, can sometimes be the best story of all.

Message Architecture is a helpful method for building your brand story. It goes like this:

  • Write down all the words you can think of that might connect with what you do, what authority you have and who your customers are (the first parts of our branding process). Put down everything you can think of, no matter what you think about it at this stage.
  • Put these words onto cards.
  • Now go over and over the cards, discarding the words that seem irrelevant. This can be a great team exercise.
  • Sort the remaining cards with the ones you think are the most important on top.
  • Arrange these words into sentences.
  • Develop those sentences into your brand story.

Step Five: Create a Logo

Your logo is the symbol of your company, which will show on all your media, all your literature and all your products. Therefore, it should tell a story of who you are. This will come across in your choices of font for the writing, the color, and other graphic elements. When creating your logo you should keep in mind all of the research you have done. Remember who your audience is, what your company does, and what your brand story reflects. Your logo must be appealing to that audience. Imagine them carrying a shopping bag down the street with your logo on it. Will they be proud of having shopped with you or embarrassed? Will they keep using it to go out for other shopping or will they quickly throw it away?

There are many free websites where you can work with graphics and create your own logo. If you have some artistic skill, you should be able to develop something very worthwhile. Alternatively, you can hire a graphic artist and if you have the funds that is probably the better option, since a professional will be much more in tune with trends and tastes in the market. You can ask them to start from scratch, or give them material you have already partly developed, to fine-tune and improve.

Make sure that your logo is something your audience will easily understand and relates to. Keep it simple. Many companies think that they need a complex logo, but simple is usually better.

Step Six: Create A Tag Line

A tag line is that catchy phrase that you come to associate with a particular brand. It is very likely that you can quickly put the brand to the following famous tag lines:

Nike:Just Do It
M&M’s:Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand
Zales:A Diamond is forever
KFC:Finger Lickin’ Good

Think about Gerber. They offer a variety of baby products. Their logo incorporates a baby face.

Their tag line is – Shouldn’t Your Baby Be a Gerber Baby? The face and the words work together to express what the company is all about, and who needs their products. Everyone can easily identify the company based on their simple logo.

Your logo and tag line should serve the same purpose.

Your tag line should reflect everything your logo does. The two will work together to represent your company and brand. Remember that your tag line should be just as simple as your logo.

Here are four tips for creating a great logo:

  • Keep it simple. Use keywords that fit your product, your goals and your audience
  • Keep it positive. Your logo should reveal the purpose and benefits of using your product. Remember that these can be the benefits of the product itself:
  • Differentiate yourself. In a crowded market, you need to stand out.
  • Make it Memorable. A good tag line will stay in the brain of those who see it.

Step Seven: Establish a Strong Online Presence

In today’s world, having a strong online presence is essential for marketing and growth. Havingdeveloped your brand and done all the initial work, now is the time to establish and secure a strong online presence. Most marketing efforts take place online these days, and branding your company is no exception. There are many benefits to having a strong online presence. Your company gain momentum, prompts more sales, garners more followers, and is out in the public eye, just for starters.

How do you go about establishing and securing a strong online presence? Check out these tips to get started:

  • Secure a domain name (website address) that incorporates your company’s name.
  • Design your website to be attractive to your target audience. Do you remember what we said earlier about the impact of color and graphics in branding your company? Those concepts and ideas must be applied right across your website. For example, a hot-pink design will be ineffective if your target audience is middle-aged men.
  • Create appropriate social media accounts for your company. Popular social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram. While you may not need to have to have an account on all of those sites, you should set up accounts on one or two of them at the very least.
  • Keep social media constantly updated. Once your social media accounts are up and running, make sure you keep them updated. Nothing is worse for your image than a stale site. Post something every day, monitor your metrics, and make sure you successfully use these sites to promote your brand story.
  • Establish a content strategy. Work out the type of content you would like to post on your website and/or blog. Remember that content should not just be “buy my stuff!” Your content should offer valuable information for your customers. If you sell plants, blogs on selection and care are obviously useful, and most markets connect to all kinds of broader information that goes beyond raw selling. Keeping your customers informed prompts them to purchase what you are offering.
  • Garner followers. Direct some of your marketing and branding efforts towards getting people to like, follow, or subscribe to your various channels. These will make up your primary followers, or the people who first see any information or news you have to share. Special offers and insider deals will keep them loyal and coming back. The larger the number of followers you have, the better it is for your business.
  • Make connections. There are two equally important ways to make connections.
    The first is to connect with other companies and professionals in your business niche. Networking with other professionals in your field is a great way to raise your profile and develop useful links that are mutually beneficial. Networking also gives you access to information and research you can use to expand your skills and services.
    The second is to connect with your customers. You can do this by liking and responding to comments left on your various sites. Nothing develops customer loyalty and respect more than a response, both to positive comments, and even more to negative ones. A careful response to even the most negative comment will raise your profile with everyone who reads it. Never be defensive or claim the comment is unfair. Responding to likes and comments shows your customers that you care about them and appreciate what they have to say. Nothing sells your products better than making your customers feel appreciated.

Step Eight: Establish Your Voice

Establishing a unique voice is the final and most important aspect of your brand, and it goes hand in hand with everything else you have already done.

Your voice is:

  • Your content, so developing a strong content strategy is of the utmost importance. Your content should be consistent with who you are, and reflect your authority – what you do best. If you market unique types of coffee, then your content should proudly explore them and inform your customers of what exactly it is that makes them so unique and desirable. Your content should reflect the interests and concerns of your target audience. Ask yourself if your customer personas would want to read your content, and go away feeling good about your company.
  • Your brand, so be consistent, informative, and unique. Remember that your brand should establish your unique place in the broader market, so your voice must always speak to that. Developing a voice can take time, and it is a good opportunity to involve your team. Put up a board and invite team members to contribute. Maybe they can put up brands they like and why they like them. Remember that a good team may be people of the same types as your audience, so they can be a mirror to the likes and interests of your audience.

Tips for Success

When creating and managing your company’s brand, utilize the following quick tips to ensure you garner the most success from branding your company.

  1. Be consistent.
  2. Be Unique.
  3. Post to your social media accounts daily to continue your brand story and keep it in front and center for your customers.
  4. Remember that over posting is just as bad, if not worse, than under posting. No one likes to be spammed, so don’t barrage your followers with empty words and meaningless fillers.
  5. Continually make new connections. Networking is a vital part of all marketing aspects, branding included.
  6. Expand and develop your brand story regularly. To be consistent all new brand stories need to spin-offs from the original idea you put together when you started.
  7. Always keep your target audience front and center so everything you do with your brand, brand story, or company is relevant to them. It does not matter one bit what you want or like. What matters to the success of your business is what your customers want or like.
  8. Keep your research current. Develop new, up-to-date metrics on a consistent and regular basis. That way you always know what needs improving, what to remove, and exactly how your target audience is growing or changing. You need to grow and change with it, or they will leave you behind.

Things to Avoid

For your brand to be successful, there are things you must never do. Avoid the following at all costs if you want your brand, brand story, and company to succeed:

  1. Inconsistent output: If you are inconsistent about your branding, consumers will become confused and not see your goals. Your brand, brand story, and company must always be consistent. This is vital and you should never forget it.
  2. Copying: Never copy another company’s brand story, logo, tag line, or anything else. No one will be purchase your product if the exact same, and original, thing is available somewhere else. Customers and your industry will disrespect you. Even worse, violations of copyright and the illegal use of intellectual property belonging to another company will lead to legal problems. Lawyers and courts have ruined many businesses.
  3. Complexity: Nobody understands overly complex material. Complex and long tag lines and ornate logos are instantly forgotten. Complexity goes against everything we have discussed, so keep it simple!
  4. Forgetting: A ‘call to action’ is a message to your customers to encourage them to act at that moment. ‘Call now’, ‘find out more on our website’, ‘visit our store today’ are all typical calls to action used in marketing. You will put these in your blog and social media posts. A call to action tells your customers what you would like them to do. If they do it and there is nothing on your site, or no one on the phone lines knows about it, your company reputation will suffer a serious fall. Not only will your calls to action be ineffective, they will be damaging. So be organized and never make a call for action that goes nowhere.
  5. Becoming stale: Letting your social media sites; blog; and company website go stale is easy when you are busy with many other things, but it is a big mistake. You must keep them up to date and you should post worthwhile material on a regular basis, while avoiding spamming.

Your Top Priorities

Not all companies or individuals have plenty of time each day to devote towards creating and promoting their brand. If you have only a limited amount of time, what should your top priorities be?

If you have five minutes each day to devote to your brand, here is a plant for those five minutes:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Post something original promoting your brand story on one or two of your social media accounts (estimated time: 3-4 minutes)

AND

Share on at least one of your social media accounts, something relevant that someone else has posted (estimated time: 1-2 minutes)

Tuesday, Thursday

Create a brief blog post to enhance your brand and/or inform your customers of something special and important (estimated time: 5 minutes)

Saturday, Sunday

Connect with one new individual or company (estimated time: 1-2 minutes)

AND

Like and respond to as many comments on your posts as possible (estimated time: 3-4 minutes)

If you only have five minutes each day to devote towards branding your company, these basics are about all you can do. An even better solution that will really build your business would be to hire professional help. They will help you develop your branding and the investment will yield a great return. The more you devote yourself to branding your company and business endeavors, the better.

Getting Professional Assistance

Getting Professional Assistance
While many people prefer to do everything themselves, a time will come when you need to hire additional help to keep up with demand. Hiring a professional for various tasks allows you to free up more of your own time for what you do best, and better manage your company’s time in general. With professional help, you will get quality work done the first time around, with no learning curve needed.

When thinking about hiring help for branding, here are some areas where professional help will pay dividends:

Social Media Marketing
Hiring a social-media marketing specialist is usually one of the first things a company does when beginning to outsource work. These professionals are trained to know what will work best for your business. They also know what times of the day are the most effective, as well as how your brand story can best be marketed on social media sites. Costs can be surprisingly low, especially considering the value you get. By outsourcing this work you only pay for the actual work done or the hours actually worked. Typically, this will be just one to three hours, five to seven days a week.

Design
Your website, logo, and visual advertisements will all benefit from hiring a professional who knows what they are doing. People often fail to recognize the importance of top-notch design, and that failure can cause a major disaster for your company. Remember that the first thing people will notice when they visit your website is the design. A low quality, crowded design with poor graphics and faults in the layout puts people off from the very beginning. Your logo is the core of your brand, and just thinking about major brands you know will show you its value. A good logo becomes the heart of your company, and a professional design is a small investment in something so vital. Visual advertisements are equally important, as they must engage your customers, and poor design will never do that, so your efforts will have been wasted.

Content Creation
Hiring one or two professional writers to create content for your blog and/or website lets you to put out more content in less time. The quality of professional writing will always be superior to your own – more engaging, informative and consistent with your brand. Since volume counts, with professional writers you can keep up the volume of content easily, and produce more material that is fresh and new. Costs are surprising low, since you typically only pay for the actual work completed.

When Will I See Results?

The amount of time it takes for your brand to deliver in profit will vary from company to company, based on their exact efforts. You should see results from branding your company quickly. If done properly, you should see minimal results within one to two weeks. These minimal returns might include more interactions, more likes or follows, and a clearer image of your company that is visible to your customers.

Marginal results should begin within two to three months of branding your company. Marginal returns will include even more interaction, likes and follows, along with a gain in momentum for your company and a slight increase in sales.

Maximum results from branding your company will take quite a while longer, appearing gradually as time progresses. It may take up to a year to see the full effect of your branding activities. Maximum returns will include a lot more interaction, more sales, more momentum, more brand recognition and numerous other positive outcomes for your company.

How to Measure Success

Of course, after all your work you will want to know how their branding campaign is actually going. Knowing how you efforts are working out means you are better informed on further changes that are needed, and tells you what should stay the same.

So how do you measure success in branding? Here are a few ideas for metrics you can use to track your progress:

  • Customer engagement: How many people are actively engaging with your brand? If you keep track of this number, you will see how it rises or falls with different types of advertisements, or at specific times of the year.
  • Views: How many times has someone looked at your blog or website? How many views does each of your social media posts get? If this number is consistent or rising, you know your campaign is doing well. If it is decreasing, you may need to ramp up your efforts.
  • Sign-ups: Keep track of how many people subscribe to your emails, your website, and your blog. If that number is rising at a steady rate, your branding campaign is doing a good job.
  • Surveys and polls: Don’t be afraid to utilize surveys and polls to see how well your customers are connecting with your brand. These are vital research tools that bring information directly from your customers.

A good mixture of the above metrics will help you effectively measure the success of your branding campaign. They also help you pinpoint areas that need working on to maximize the results of your branding efforts.

Summary

In this section of the course, we covered the following topics. Make sure you understand them all before moving on to the next section:

  • What is Branding? – the development of your public image
  • Why is Branding important? – it is the image of your company you want to create
  • Eight Steps to Branding your Company
    • Define your business – your skills, your purpose, what separates you
    • Define your audience – demographics and psychometrics
    • Create a name for your brand – how to get the perfect name
    • Tell a cross channel story – your story is what you are
    • Create a logo – how to design the perfect logo for your company
    • Create a tag line – the simple words that capture your audience
    • Establish a strong on-line presence – an on-line presence is essential in today’s markets
    • Establish your voice – your voice comes through in everything you do
  • Tips for success
  • Things to avoid
  • Your top priorities
  • Getting professional assistance – why professional help pays for itself
  • When will I see results?
  • How to measure success

Conclusion

Branding can help consumers easily identify your company. Easy identification is the key to every company’s success. To begin reaping the benefits of branding, follow the instructions and other useful information in this chapter. The results are well worth the time, money, and effort you invest, since you will begin seeing results quicker than you ever imagined.