Some businesses try to build the identity of their brand by imitating other well-established players in the industry. This strategy will prove futile. As stated in the previous blog, Carefully Define Your Brand and All That It Represents, customer loyalty is a product of building a unique identity for your brand. The next blog will however provide some guidelines on how to leverage the strengths of existing market players without becoming a copycat.
If you are already the mastermind calling the shots for a brand that is struggling, my first suggestion is to turn to your existing customers. You would be surprised how much you can benefit from some good old-fashioned research by means of a brand audit. Carefully assess what customers currently think about your brand and what they think it represents. You may be quite horrified to realize that your clients have completely misunderstood the voice of your brand. In the same breath, take the time to find out how they think your brand fares against the competition. Your business and your brand might be too close to your heart for you to critique it objectively. This can be achieved by means of online surveys or even in-house questionnaires. The key to getting the right information is to ask the right questions. Ask clear, simple questions that get straight to the point.
“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” – Thomas Berger
“There are no right answers to wrong questions.” – Ursula K. Le Guin
Now that you have asked the right people, the right questions and have gotten into the minds of your customers, it is time for action. But don’t pick a fight with every naysayer you encounter. Choose your battles carefully and always remember that you will not be able to please everyone. Try to identify any common themes in the responses of your clients. Please bear in mind that some of these responses may be aimed at improving the quality of your product or service. Leaving a bad taste in the mouth of your clients will do very little to help you build a successful brand. Build on the complaints or lack of enthusiasm for your brand. Use that information to guide your brand identity strategy. All of your creative resources should be aimed at removing common road blocks from the minds of existing customers and thus potential clients as well. Be sure to also reinforce the positive aspects of your brand that your customers identified.
Now that you know what to do, it is time to learn how to do it! Building the identity of your brand might take some amount of time, but aimlessly spending money is never the solution. Now that you are armed with all the right information, it is time to skillfully aim your blows by means of a carefully thought out brand identity strategy. Designing a good strategy means you have almost won the battle. Your strategy should be centered on objectives, but only a few. Please remember how the previous blog, Carefully Define Your Brand and All That It Represents, stressed the need for simplicity. Also, ensure that you link each phase of your strategy to a specific objective. Your strategic objectives should be as S.M.A.R.T. as they come. By S.M.A.R.T., I mean Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Don’t be too quick to implement a new strategy. Consider all the ‘what ifs’ before you jump and take the time to plan the kind of attack your competitors will never see coming.
“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. ” ― Michael E. Porter
“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” ― Sun Tzu
Here are 3 Simple Strategies to Establishing the Identity of your brand:
1. Develop a Logo and Other Creative Elements that Compliment the Objectives of Your Brand
Developing a logo is the first aspect of developing your brand’s visual vocabulary. In addition to the logo, you will need to create a specific look and feel for your brand that will be consistent throughout the various platforms you will use to promote your brand. All successful brands are associated with a specific blend of colors, fonts and slogans. In order for your creative elements to resonate with your target audience, you must be consistent. Every aspect of business, your website, your social media pages and even your business cards, should feature the same creative elements.
Do not just choose a color just because you think it is pretty. Remember that specific colors tend to evoke very specific emotions. Yellow for example is often associated with happiness, while red is often associated with anger or romance. Always keep your target market in mind while selecting your creative elements. The occupation, age and even social status of the group you aim to target will influence how they view your logo, colors et cetera. Be sure to also test your logo by means of a focus group before you launch it. Some logos, as creative as they may be, can be misinterpreted or even confused with the logo of a similar brand. Whatever you decide, ensure that your creative elements are so memorable that even if a client sees only half of the picture, they can still imagine exactly what is coming next.
2. Amp Up Your Social Media Presence
What good will it do if you build a distinct brand that no one has ever heard of? Social media allows you to reach the right people, with the right message all the time. Additionally, social media is one of the most affordable options to reach your target audience. So why not make full use of it? There are so many social media platforms just waiting to help build your brand. In fact, all the successful brands of our generation have invested heavily in creating a robust social media presence and so should you. All you need to do is post the kind of content that will lure in potential customers. I will delve into further details about producing relevant content and designing a suitable social media strategy in my next blog posts.
3. Optimize Your Business Website
I will explain in greater detail how to accomplish this task. But, in short, your website should be loaded with useful content, easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing. There is no bigger turn off than a website that takes decades to load or isn’t mobile friendly. A website is one of the few points of contact that you have full control over and it is best you use this to your advantage.
Stay tuned for my next blog where I will discuss how to use relevant content to emphasize the key message of your brand.