What makes a brand?
Is it the logo? The jingle? Or is it the slogan, the packaging, the spokesperson, or even just the name?
The real substance of a brand comes from the feeling it gives its potential customers. That feeling leads to the thoughts you form in your mind related to the brand.
Companies spend millions to craft their brands to connect with potential customers. Not only do they spend millions on advertising to promote their brand image, but they also invest in their products, their packaging, and their customer experience processes.
Volvo has ensured that people think of safety when they see their logo. By producing cars that consistently surpass safety regulations, their reputation speaks for itself. They’ve also made the public goal of reducing the number of fatalities in Volvo accidents to an incredible number of zero, by the year 2025.
Because of this true commitment to safety, Volvo’s marketing is made more effective because customers believe their messaging about safety and caring for their drivers’ experiences, instead of ignoring it as hollow rhetoric.
You may not have the multi-million dollar marketing budget as a company like Volvo, or maybe you do, but the process of building a brand that connects with people and invokes real feelings doesn’t have to cost millions.
For small businesses, building a successful brand starts with your unique brand position and clear messaging.
Position your brand from one clear angle that is easy for your customers to identify a benefit from.
i.e. Arby’s: We Have the Meats.
Arby’s chose to focus on high-quality meats as their unique brand position. If you want a fast sandwich that is full of delicious hearty meats, they want Arby’s to be your number one choice.
Abacus Plumbing: You Can Count on Us!
Abacus chooses to position themselves as the plumber that you can rely on to get the job done. Sometimes when choosing a plumber you don’t have time to shop around too much. Abacus wants you to see them as a company that no matter what can be counted on to get your plumbing problem fixed right away.
Invent Design: Specialists in Creative LED Lighting
When you need to light up a music festival like Tomorrowland or a production like Christmas on Ice, you’re looking for one specific type of lighting that will get the job done. When you go to Invent Design’s website, you find exactly what you’re looking for the minute you arrive. “Specialists in Creative LED Lighting,” as well as their impressive photo gallery display of previous LED light sets that they’ve masterfully executed.
Once you decide which angle you’re going to choose to uniquely position your brand, you then need to craft that position into a concise message.
The term messaging gets thrown around frequently these days because it’s used in a variety of fields and industries. In politics, politicians running for office are told to “stay on message” because that message is what they supposedly stand for at the core of their campaign.
That message is supposed to be the nitty gritty of why potential customers should choose your company over your competitors. This is highly related to the “elevator pitch.” Entrepreneurs are taught to develop their elevator pitch so that in less than 30 seconds a perfect stranger will understand what their company does and how it can make customers lives better.
You should be able to quickly and concisely explain to one potential customer why they should choose you instead of your competitors.
Once you define that message, you can drill it down to a slogan or tagline. Your tagline should be your elevator pitch in 5 words, more or less, or a short sentence, something that will fit into your advertising creative materials.
After this step, you can design your logo. The reason you wait until this point to design the logo instead of doing it earlier is because the style of your logo depends on the substance of your message.
If you’re positioning your brand as one that’s edgy and futuristic, you don’t want a boring typeface logo. You need something catchy and creative.
On the other hand, if you’re an accounting firm pushing timeliness and accuracy, a simple and clear typeface logo could be perfect.
Your logo should be designed with your ideal customers in mind. You need that logo to match with those customers and make your business relevant to them.
Once you’ve created your tagline and logo, you’re now ready to spread that branding across your business’ online and offline reach. This is where brand cohesion comes into play.
You need your logo to be placed prominently anywhere your business has a presence. In the offline world, that means your office space, your company vehicles (if applicable), the sign outside your building, your letterhead, your brochures, and anywhere else your business may appear. If your business is represented somewhere, your logo needs to be there too.
For offline purposes, the same principles apply. Your social media business profiles should all have cover and profile photos that display your logo and possibly your tagline. Some social media networks don’t provide ample amounts of space, so you’re doing well enough to get your logo in there.
The different social media networks, however, all have different size requirements for profile and cover photos. You’ll have to create different photos for each network, but you want to make sure that all of the photos follow the same theme and match. This is what creates brand cohesion. You need potential customers to recognize your brand no matter where they see it, which in turn will make them feel more comfortable with your brand.
Whether it’s your Yelp profile, Google Maps listing, or YouTube page, every one of those pages should match each other and look like they fit together.
Do you have business videos that you’ve created in the past? One quick way to freshen up those videos and make them more relevant to today is to touch them up in a video editor and put your logo and tagline at the beginning and end. You don’t have to recreate every piece of content you’ve ever created, you just need to make it all match and fit together.
If you use the same graphic designer for all of your promotional material it will be very easy for them to keep consistency across all of your marketing materials since they design all of your creative anyway. If you’re doing your graphic design yourself just make it a priority to make everything you produce look like it came from the same place. This can be as simple as including your logo in a uniform way on every piece of content, but it makes an extremely significant difference.
Having a strong brand is a major asset for a business. It allows you to build a reputation in your community and among the people you want to serve. Once you’ve built a strong brand you can build and expand on it, allowing you to venture into new service lines and potentially new geographic service areas.
The ultimate takeaway is to have people be able to recognize your company and what it’s about just by seeing your logo. Once you have that level of brand recognition, your other advertising efforts will be much more successful because people already know you, and if you’re lucky, they may even trust you.