Companies are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves. Whether through a company name, website, logo, tagline, or advertising campaign, it is vital that you offer something that helps your company stand out among competitors. Though you may offer the same services as your competitor, you must find ways to market a different approach, lower cost, or added benefit. Here are 5 simple ways to build your brand image:
1. Internal Communications
Branding education & training for employees is key to building your brand. It is essential to equip staff with the tools to educate others about your products/services. Every employee is a marketer for your company and their bad attitude or lack of information could potentially influence your brand and reputation.
It is important to appreciate the value of good relationships with customers, business partners, and vendors. Each relationship offers benefits that will help to strengthen your brand and your service/product.
3. Customer Experience
Creating the best possible customer experience can be tedious and difficult, but it is worth every moment of your time. Take a holistic approach while pinpointing the key components that define a customer’s experience. Begin to take notes on how a customer is treated by your company. Are there ways to improve their experience? Finding ways to better meet your customer’s needs will help to build a great brand image.
4. Word of Mouth
What are people saying about your company? It is important to address the good, the bad, and the ugly. What are you doing right? What are you doing wrong that can be improved? What things are you doing that need to stop immediately? Growth is sure to occur when these issues are addressed on a consistent basis.
5. External Communications
Each piece of external advertising needs to have a clear, cohesive message. Whether it’s signage, collateral, corporate identity, direct mail, uniforms, or advertising – all components need to convey the same message. Maintaining consistency within your brand helps to strengthen the trust between you and your customer. Good examples of trustworthy brands include: Hershey Co., Kraft Foods, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Home Depot, Apple, UPS, Coca-Cola, and Google. These brands have images that have remained consistent for years and have been extremely successful in delivering on their brand promise. Thus, building a lasting brand image.
"“Authentic brands don't emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does...” - Howard Schultz
There are many things that can be done to help build your brand, however there are also several common mistakes that can be made that will ultimately demolish your brand. Avoid these five, common brand blunders that could potentially sabotage your brand.
1. Lack of Planning
Great branding does not happen by chance. It takes time and effort. If you do not plan for success, you cannot expect it. Constructing a thorough marketing plan is essential when building a brand. It becomes much easier to prevent common branding errors when you create a comprehensible plan for your brand.
2. Lack of Brand Identity
Brand identity is imperative when establishing your company. Your brand allows the public to clearly identify your company. There should be basic brand identity guidelines for your company that help to maintain a consistent message to your target audience. Mission statements, visions, logos, corporate colors, and brand values are all brand identity components that help to build a strong brand.
3. Lack of Consistency
It is critical that your messaging remain clear and consistent. Sending mix messages to your consumers will prevent you from establishing trust and brand loyalty. After establishing your brand identity and developing a marketing plan, be sure to make marketing decisions in accordance with those guidelines. After all, what is the point of creating a plan if you don’t use it? Stick to the plan!
4. Lack of Commitment
The reputation of your brand is very important and can be severely damaged if your company does not deliver on its commitment to consumers. The brand promise needs clearly communicated both externally and internally. Everyone within the company should be trained to deliver on the brand’s promise, which will allow the company to establish lasting relationships with consumers.
5. Lack of Innovation
Be sure not to become the clone of another brand. Stir clear of mimicking the advertising efforts of other brands. Use your own creativity to create your own unique, marketing plan. It may be difficult at first, but it will pay off in the end.
It is very important to be mindful of the obstacles that may arise when building a brand. Much of our work is centered around building brands for organizations as well as individuals and we have encountered several stumbling blocks when helping companies rebuild their brand images. Many of these issues are the result of something we like to call "feeding the beast." Feeding the beast involves a series of negligent, marketing decisions that cause a brand to get out of control. Once a brand is out of control, it begins to send messages that conflict with its mission and causes the value of the brand to decrease. Customers will begin to no longer value the product or services and the brand equity will be lost. In order not to loose that hard-earned brand equity, one must "tame the beast."
BUILDING A BRAND
"How does one build a brand?" you may ask. It is quite simple and can be done in 3 steps:
1. Develop a Plan
Develop a plan to strategically control the messages that are sent out on behalf of your brand and make it a company-wide priority to follow that plan. When the mission of the company or individual is at the forefront of every marketing decision, the product or service will benefit greatly.
2. Implement the Plan
Many companies are able to successfully implement their branding plans through the use of a corporate identity manual. A corporate identity manual is a management tool that will help ensure the correct application of the corporate identity on various levels. This will help to ensure that the brand does not get out of control and consistently sends messages that reinforce the company's mission and vision.
3. Maintain Quality Control
Much like a map, a plan is no good if you do not use it. It is necessary to manage your brand and make certain that the guidelines that have been set in place are being followed by all involved with company matters. It is vital that everyone understand that they are responsible for upholding the brand standards of the company. If you are managing your personal brand, be sure to make decisions that consistently send the same message to your target audience.
AVOID A BLAND BRAND
Let’s face it; no one enjoys food that is boring and flavorless. The same goes for brands. Much like food, brand identity should connect to the basic needs of your customers. If you want to create a brand that leaves a great taste in the minds of your consumers, you must start with the right ingredients. Below are seven key steps to creating a brand identity that will keep your target audience coming back for more.
1. Use creativity to stay innovative and fresh. No one likes to eat food that has gone way past the expiration date. It is important to stay current and up-to-date. Find ways to enhance your product/service on a regular basis. These enhancements should directly benefit your consumers and help create a higher level of brand loyalty.
2. Research your target audience well. Understanding the needs and desires of your target audience is essential. When you thoroughly understand their "taste", you are better able to serve items that appeal to their "taste buds" - items that excite them and keep them interested in your brand.
3. Create a look and feel. Every business (even restaurants) should have basic, corporate items that help to establish a visual aid for consumers. Logos, corporate color(s), supporting graphics, and corporate guidelines all work together to create a memorable brand in the minds of consumers. Over time, these elements will allow you to develop immediate brand recognition with your target audience.
4. Develop a flexible plan. Restaurants spend a great deal of time establishing and modifying their menu, because they know that it could make or break their company. Same is true of a marketing plan for businesses. It must be designed with your consumer in mind. Your market research and deep understanding of your target audience will assist you in creating a plan that will lead to the success of your brand. It is important to leave room for flexibility in the event that you need to "modify your menu."
5. Manage messaging. Once your look and feel is established, it will be easier to manage your brand. Just like a restaurant educates servers and hostesses on various menu items, your company must educate employees on brand guidelines and expectations. Everyone involved with your brand should have a good understanding of your mission and core beliefs in hopes to minimize any possible branding blunders. The mission and core beliefs should be reflected in everything associated with your brand. If your messaging is consistent and mindful of your target audience, it will help to strengthen your brand.
6. Always deliver on your brand promise. In order to ensure brand loyalty, it is critical that you commit to your core mission and beliefs. If you promise quality, you must deliver quality. If you promise originality, you must deliver originality. No one wants to see a plate of fish and chips, when they ordered the steak and potatoes. Be a company of your word!
7. Present quality. In other words: Don't get sloppy! Make sure your brand looks good, sounds good, and tastes good in the minds of your consumer. Show them that you truly believe in your product/service and that you are willing to go to great lengths to deliver on your brand promise.
Logo design is one of our absolute favorite aspects of corporate identity. It is sweet like candy! Developing the face of a business is so exciting for us. It’s almost like revealing the face of a baby to its mother for the first time. The joy in the eyes of a business owner once they see their vision coming to life is amazing.
Since we spend a great deal of my time creating brands, we know for a fact that one of the most important components of brand identity is logo design. A logo embodies the essence of a company or individual. It is used on every piece of advertising or marketing material. It is the lasting image in the minds of consumers. Needless to say, it is kind of a big deal. The difference between good and great can be seen very clearly within the design of a logo. The following are five things that every logo needs to be considered great:
Good logos look nice, but great logos stand out. Your logo should differentiate your business from that of your competitors. It is critical to find something unique about you or your business that can be marketed and highlighted within your logo.
The design of your logo should be closely connected to your business and the product/services that you offer. It should attract your target audience and enable you to further market your business. If your consumers do not clearly recognize your company’s industry or understand what services are being offered, than you may miss out on some promising business opportunities.
A great logo should be able to adjust to any medium. From pens to billboards, your logo should be easy to read and clearly understood. A logo that loses readability when the size is deceased will ultimately limit your usage. Variations in the logo’s color options may help to prevent limited usage and increase the levels of adaptability for your logo.
Though it takes more time and effort, simple is often better when it comes to logo design. Condensing the entire essence of a business into one mark or symbol can lead to an overcrowded and cluttered logo if not executed correctly. It is important to combine the essence of the company with a style that complements the brand and creates a lasting image.
Standing the test of time is the ultimate goal of a great logo. Your logo should be designed with the future in mind. Leave room for company growth and expansion while still emphasizing your core services or products.
Will your logo leave a lasting impression in the minds of your customers for all the right reasons or for all the wrong reasons? Does your logo have all the distinction, relevance, adaptability, and simplicity it needs to stand the test of time? If the answer is “yes”, you are headed down the road to success. If the answer is “no”, begin working towards redeveloping your logo and create “a brand that works as hard as you do!” If you are interested in a free Logo Analysis, please click here to submit your company/personal logo.
In 2010, Subway surpassed McDonald’s in the race to become the top restaurant chain. Subway offers great benefits to consumers, employees, and franchise owners. Not only are the subs made fresh, Subway delivers on fresh business ideas that have helped them to dominate within their industry. According to CNNMoney, “Subway has 34,218 locations globally -- all of which are owned by franchisees. Subway now has more than 1,000 locations in Asia, and it just opened its first store in Vietnam. Other high-growth nations include Brazil, Mexico, India, China, Russia and France.”
Company spokeswoman, Les Winograd stated, "A lot of our growth has been in non-traditional spaces that our competitors might not touch. We have really unique ones, like on a riverboat in Germany, a church in Buffalo, car dealers, bowling alleys and casinos. We're not just in strip malls" (CNNMoney, 2011). Subway is a great example of a company that not only offers a great product, but also works to find the best ways to serve that product to consumers. They are not confined by traditional business locations, which allows them to reach more people and increase profits by accommodating the needs of the consumer. This is beneficial to consumers and very attractive to those seeking franchise opportunities.
Subway is always changing and expanding its brand. From Five Dollar Footlongs to the new breakfast menu, Subway consistently finds new ways to stay connected to consumers. This should be the goal of every company regardless of your particular industry. Continuously research different techniques and strategies that will enable your brand to become stronger. This will allow you to not only outshine your competitors, but it helps you to build a brand that will stand the test of time.