First, we’ll get the business up and running, then we’ll think about building a brand.
It’s a common refrain among small businesses and start-ups.
It’s also a dangerous mindset. No branding and your business and its message risk being lost in the (competitive) mix.
In order for your small business to compete, you must create emotional connections with your audiences through your messaging, marketing, and engagement. Ideally, from day one. When it is done right, the benefits and ROI can be immediate.
Your brand identity is more than just your logo. It’s more than style guides, marketing materials, or colour palettes. Your brand identity is the total picture of how your brand looks, feels, and speaks to customers. It influences the entire experience of customers, suppliers, your employees and all other stakeholders.
Branding requires time, research, and deep thinking, but the results are worth it.
So where do you start?
1. Research, research, research
Jazzbones is huge on this one. You can’t create a successful brand identity if you don’t understand your customers to begin with. So, first take the time to truly learn about your audience and stakeholders. Who are they? Where are they? What do they want? When do they want it? How much are they prepared to pay for it? Etc.
Once you have a deep understanding of your customers, move on to researching the competition. How are other companies in your market positioning themselves in terms of visual elements, personalities, and themes?
And finally, don’t forget to interview the people closest to your current brand: your employees. They have an important point of view on how the company should be portrayed, and what has and hasn’t worked in the past.
2. Create brand assets
Once the research phase is done, the fun can begin. It’s time to translate all your learnings into visuals. Here’s a quick list of common brand assets:
· Colour palettes
· Photography and graphics
· Style guide that explains appropriate logo usage and tone of voice, among other things
As you’re building your brand assets, think about the 3 C’s of branding and how they can help:
· Clarity: It’s your job, not your customer’s, to figure out your message. If they have to work to interpret something you’ve created, your brand isn’t clear enough yet.
· Consistency: Your billboard needs to have the same voice as your website, which needs to have the same voice as your Twitter account. Consistency in your brand inspires confidence and discipline.
· Commitment: We want our ads to go viral, and the minute they don’t, we get discouraged and shift directions. Don’t forget that great branding can take time.
3. Define your brand story
Cement your brand identity with a brand story. This isn’t necessarily your origin story, although it will have components of why you started your business.
As you’re crafting your brand story, remember that it’s not just the elevator pitch you give to people when they ask what your business is. It’s about how your brand relates to people and why it exists.
Jazzbones recently rebranded the solicitors Awdry Law (previously Awdry Bailey & Douglas). Their new name and tagline - ‘We Speak Your Language’ - tells you what they do; law, and how they do it; by communicating in non-jargon. This story will be reinforced by all their marketing and client interactions.
4. Repeat and fine-tune
Once you have created your initial brand identity, analyse and fine-tune it based on customer feedback. Test new strategies and tactics to see what works best. For example, you could A/B a direct marketing campaign to see which story resonates best with your audience.
Once you have your branding firmly in place you will also be able to apply the four traditional ‘P’s of marketing to your messaging
· Product = what you’re selling, tangible or intangible,
· Place = where you sell your product, physical space or digital space (the latter case encompasses a new marketing “P”; personalization)
· Price = low cost, medium cost or high cost
· Promotion = all the methods you use to market your product or service; advertising, signage, telemarketing etc.
Nobody ever said that developing and rolling out a brand was easy. That’s why it is vital to get support from a branding and design expert like Jazzbones that has vast experience in supporting companies on their journey. We can help you with the big picture and the small details alike!
Got a great product or service and a great story to tell? Then we’d love to talk to you about branding.
Nathan Sandhu, founder and creative director - Jazzbones Creative Ltd.