In essence, your brand creates your business's reputation and its personality. A strong brand can make your business stand out from the crowd, particularly in competitive markets.
A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of them, which identifies the goods and services of a company and differentiates them from the competition. Branding is about getting your prospects to see you as the only business that provides a solution to their problem.
A good brand delivers a clear message, cements the credibility of your business, creates an emotional connection with your customers, motivates buyers and ensures customer loyalty.
This BizConnect guide explains what branding is, how it works and how you can use it to help improve your business:
Why is branding important?
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- Recognition and loyalty. A strong brand name and logo/ image helps to keep your company image in the minds of your potential customers and makes it more likely that they will remember your business
- Size. A strong brand implies an established business. Effective branding can make your business appear to be much bigger than it really is. The perception of size and stability is particularly important when a customer wants reassurance that you will still be around in a few years' time
- Quality. Customers see the brand as a part of a product or service that helps to show its quality and value. The average customer often believes that a branded item is superior in quality
- Experience and dependability. A well branded business is seen as experienced in its field. Its products and services will generally be seen as more reliable and trustworthy than those of an unbranded business
- New products. Building a strong brand enables you to introduce new products. Because customers trust your brand, they are more likely to buy those products, which means you can cross sell and up sell to them
- Pricing. Experience shows that customers expect to pay more for a branded product than for unbranded products
In summary, a brand enables buying decisions, builds customer loyalty, builds market share, protects market share, helps command higher prices, and paves the way for business expansion
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A holistic brand incorporates the entire brand or image of the company. It includes everything from advertising styles to stationery, to company colours. The trick is to avoid messages which are too bland or too cluttered. Instead, aim to convey a distinctive image and personality that make you stand out from the competition.
When creating your brand, bear in mind that it has to be applied across the business. The process begins with the design of your logo and tagline. Nike, for example, is recognisable because of the tick and the accompanying slogan "Just do it". It's a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of the brand.
A strong brand identity covers the following:
- Logo design
- Website design
- Email signatures
- Stationery design - including business cards, letterheads, compliment slips and envelopes
- Document design - including proposals, quotes and invoices
What does your business stand for?
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Many small businesses make the mistake of believing that they don't need to worry about image. The fact is that all your business communications - from your business card to how you answer the phone - send out messages to the outside world. By getting the basics of branding right, you can ensure that you control the message you want to convey.
Defining your brand requires you to answer the following questions:
- What is your company's mission?
- What does the business stand for?
- What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
- What do you want your customers and prospects to think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
- How does your company dress code convey the brand message?
- How does your customer service convey the brand message?
- How will you make every employee aware of your brand attributes?
Getting the basics right
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Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same colour scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don't need to be fancy, just consistent. If you can't do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.
Clarity and legibility
The best known brands are clean and easy to read. Think about Coca Cola, MTN and HP.
Maintaining a clean and uncluttered space around the logo maximizes the visual impact of this key brand element. Setting a minimum size helps to ensure the logo is always legible and easy to identify.
Create a style guide
A style guide provides the rules for your most important brand elements ensuring that these can be applied to all new digital, print and other communications.
Because defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, consider getting help from the professionals. A graphic designer will work closely with you to solidify your brand and help you to create a brand identity.