Having a brand might sound like a luxury only the big names can afford, but this is far from the truth. A brand has less to do with how well-known your business is, and more with what makes you unique, trustworthy and relatable.
How can you build a strong and impactful presence if you’re working on a budget? Here are six tips that can point you in the right direction:
1. Start with the Big Idea
Let’s begin with the basics: your brand is the image you want customers to see when they interact with your business. It’s what you want people to remember you by when they are submerged in promotional messages coming from all sides. A strong brand reflects the identity of your business by addressing the following questions:
- Who are you: What is the purpose & character of your business?
- What makes you unique: What about your business, product or service is different from everyone else?
- What do you value: Does your business have a passionate stance about certain qualities or topics that resonate with your customers?
Clear and concise answers to these questions build a good framework to start with, which will help not only with the visual aspects of your brand, but also guide you on your tone of voice and the conversations you have with customers.
2. Treat your brand as a real person
In a way, building a brand is much like creating a personality. Your brand should have a voice, express a unique style and evoke certain emotions that will help build trust.
Help your customers understand your business by giving them a persona to connect and converse with. Make sure that this personality is someone they would enjoy interacting with.
This step can also help you stay on track with your PR; referring back to your brand persona helps you stay consistent with the messages you share with the public. Any action or business decision that doesn’t align well with the brand personality can act as a warning sign that you’re not being authentic, which inadvertently damages trust.
3. Decide on visual presentation
Finding your style can take some time, but once you get it right, it will naturally complement your business efforts and represent you in a way that is memorable.
Before diving into building a logo, consider what associations you want customers to have with your business. The list of traits ranges from childlike playfulness to strictly corporate behaviour. Finding the ones that perfectly fit you and your audience will guide you on the moods you want to create with your visuals.
When it comes down to picking a logo, things don’t have to get complicated (or expensive). Research can really help.
Begin by collecting logos that you like and consider what it is about them them that evokes a positive response from you. You can also look at what your competitors are doing and try to understand why their logos work for them.
Always go back to what makes your brand persona unique, and try to illustrate that in the style that fits you best.
4. Think about your tone
Interacting with your audience means consistent and authentic communication on a number of fronts: content on your website or blog, promotional messages, or conversations you have with customers when addressing questions or feedback.
A key part of your brand persona is how it expresses itself. Your tone consists of your choice of words, the topics you decide to talk about, and how you frame your messages.
Some brands will take a more humorous approach and have a lighthearted note with their content. Others will take a more serious stance and keep things strictly academic or professional. It all depends on who you’re talking to and what you want to achieve.
5. Stay consistent in your communication
Internally, businesses are like clockwork built from hundreds of smaller parts. This, however, is not how your company is seen by customers on the outside.
They see the cohesive whole, and how well things sync together can have a strong impact on whether they like you or not. This is why you need to make sure that everything you do aligns together, and there are no contradictions that could throw your customers off.
One way to approach this task is by putting together a style guide for situations when you’re communicating with both visual and written content. Consider this document as a roadmap which records the process from A to Z—describing your brand strategy, listing do’s and dont’s, and highlighting the slogans, messages and ideas that are most important for your brand.
This step proves particularly helpful when several people manage your communication channels simultaneously and you need to keep them on the same page.
6. Put your business out there
Did you know that over two-thirds of Twitter users use the platform to tweet at small and mid-sized businesses that have caught their interest? Why is that relevant? Because you need to find a way to be discovered. Think of social media as another platform to be creative, engaging and unique. If you don’t, your competitors most likely will.
You need to put your company out there, not just to promote your product or service, but also build a conversation with your audience. Carefully listening to what customers are talking about is integral to understanding their interests and pain points—topics that you want to address either with your product or with your promotional content.
What will give you the real edge is approaching the platforms strategically. They’re not made equal, and each has its unique contribution to your presence online. Depending on the type of business you run and the results you want to achieve, you might have to invest more resources into one rather than another.
As you go through the branding journey, you will not only improve how people perceive your business — you’ll also discover new opportunities to bring value to your customers and genuinely engage with them. Don’t shy away from experimenting and going for ideas that others haven’t explored before. Your business deserves its own unique and irreplaceable personality.
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Originally published February 20 2018 , updated June 29 2018