What is a brand?
Is it your logo, your color scheme, your content and the photos you use? It’s all of these, yet none of them alone. A brand is a perception of your business in a client/customer’s mind. To create a memorable perception, all the components including your visual brand must work together. You must understand your business and your clients really well. Branding simply means using consistent visuals and content to communicate a message.
Small businesses didn’t use to have a “brand” per se. That was a term used mostly when referring to nationally known companies. Small businesses or “Mom & Pop’s” operated by word of mouth and reputation within their specific geographic location. People either knew you or someone who had referred you. If your business did a good job, your clients would recommend you and word would get around.
Of course, you’d be listed in the yellow pages and would devise and execute varied advertising, marketing campaigns and sales strategies based on your specific industry and goals. The visuals could be inconsistent, but due to the cost of advertising, printing and dissemination, it wasn’t necessarily a deal-breaker.
Although having a good word-of-mouth reputation never goes out of style, it must be evident in the form of validation online and easily accessible to your potential customers/clients.
Written and video client testimonials on your website are critical especially if you’re a service-based business. And demonstrating your expertise by showcasing your accreditations, memberships and leadership roles via speaking at events, podcasts, and/or blog articles or books improves your credibility.
Reviews also play a role: Google My Business, Amazon, Yelp, Trip Advisor, or industry-specific review platforms like Healthgrades, where patients give reviews about doctors, hospitals etc.
2. Emotional Connection
Once you’ve established your credibility, you must imbue your business with your “Why.” Your story has more power to pull strong emotions out of your target audience than your products/services. Great storytelling creates strong emotional connections between you and your customers.
By telling your story in an honest, unique way, you can stand out in a world full of advertising overload. Everyone has a story... it’s your purpose and beliefs—the unique benefit your business brings to your customers. How does your product or service make the world a better place? Your brand’s purpose can also be seen as its mission statement.
Why is brand consistency so important? It leads to familiarity and familiarity leads to trust which is what you want for your clients. You want them to put their trust in you. I’m writing this blog post on my iMac. My AirPods, iPhone, and MacBook are sitting right here on my desk. I’ve been using Apple products since 1986. I’m emotionally attached to Apple...ya think?
As annoying as their ubiquity is, people wear, listen, talk, create, and work with Apple products, and constantly tell others about it. Their brand is consistently innovative, beautifully designed, technology-leading products.
For smaller businesses, consistency also is the main ingredient for creating loyalty. I love Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe here in Arlington. Their doughnuts are hand-crafted deliciousness every. single. time. Charlie and Kate are incredibly generous and active in our community and the business is family-owned. They show up consistently since starting their business just a few years ago.
It seems counterproductive to not accept every opportunity, but you can be more profitable and successful if you serve only the right clients for you. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. This is where your branding comes in. For your potential clients to know enough about you so that this works, you have to create a clear picture of your services. No, not in a sales call, I mean online.
On your website, your social media, and in all the assets they’ll encounter. It should tell them a lot about you so that they have something to judge you on and judge you they will. If you don’t have a compelling brand story and messaging that speaks directly about their problems, they’ll forget about you and move on.
Your company’s personality is the type of language you use and what sort of tone you put into your brand messaging. Is your company’s voice personal or professional? Is the tone formal or informal? Is your business fun or super serious? Is your business an authoritative expert or an approachable friend?
The way you talk to your clients, whether it’s through your website, content, or social media, will shape their vision of your business. Once you’ve figured it out, you can start developing your brand’s visual identity: your logo, color palette, marketing materials, website, and everything else you’ll need.
We recently rebranded
For the past 25 years, we’ve helped businesses and organizations to communicate and reinvent themselves through design and marketing communications. We too recently rebranded because we wanted to tell a story that differentiates us. We fine-tuned the five things I just highlighted and wrote extensively about it in a three-part series entitled “Are You Ready to Rebrand, We Did!”
Our brand story is rooted in our conviction about the urgent and collective need for integrity in today’s socio-economic context and environment.
We work with innovative entrepreneurial small businesses who create transformational change or have an uncommon approach that solves a problem, rectifies an inequity or creates an opportunity. They’re ready to start their own business or transform the successful business they already have to own their conviction.
7 Power Tools Visual Brand Guide
Download our guide on how to brand your business personality using your logo, voice, color, typography, imagery, design, and brand positioning.