Over the years I’ve been asked a lot of questions about branding. Here are my answers to some of the most frequently asked ones. Your question not covered? No problem! Get in touch and let me know – one question is completely FREE! You never know, you might find it appearing on this list soon too…
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WHAT IS A BRAND?
Your brand is your business reputation. It’s what stays in other people’s mind’s about your business. That’s not what you say about your business, it’s what other people think about it. The B is for Brand way of describing what’s actually in a brand is this:
First, you need a strategy and that guides everything else. Image is the most well-known part of a brand and includes both what your brand says about itself and how it looks. The experience is what you create for your staff and for your customers, in line with your strategy.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A NAME FOR MY BUSINESS?
If you haven’t had a Eureka moment by then, with your Brand Strategy in hand, it will be much easier to decide which name options are right or wrong for your exciting new venture.
SHOULD I RENAME MY BUSINESS?
SHOULD I RE-BRAND MY BUSINESS?
However, as soon as you make even the smallest change to your visual identity (logo etc) inconsistencies can start to creep in (and consistency is the most important thing in branding, right)? The worst case scenario is that the customer doesn’t recognise your business anymore, or gets confused about whether it’s really you. American Business Strategy expert Donald Miller famously says: ‘You confuse, you lose!’
HOW DO I BUILD A STRONG BRAND?
HOW DO I GET PEOPLE TO NOTICE MY BUSINESS?
HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT CUSTOMERS FOR MY BUSINESS?
You need a Brand Strategy! Your Brand Strategy will help you find the right TRIBE for your business. There are currently almost eight billion people in the world. That’s a few too many for your business to serve, right? Once you know what your business stands for, what you want it to be known for and what change you want it to bring to the world, you can start to find out who might be interested in doing business with you.
HOW DO I CREATE BRAND LOYALTY?
Humans only connect on an emotional level with a small handful of brands over their lifetime and those are the ones they tend to support, talk about and buy from again and again.
You need to start this process by writing your Brand Strategy! ‘People buy from people’ (quote from someone more famous than me) and if you get your message right, tell a story that is authentic and learn to connect with your audience on an emotional level, your customers will buy into you, what you stand for and your story, over and above the products and services that you sell. So by talking less about features and benefits and more about emotions and stories, the process of engagement begins. When a customer connects with your story and identifies themselves IN that story, they start buying from you again and again, choosing your business over others. That, my friends, is brand loyalty.
HOW DO I CREATE BRAND AMBASSADORS?
Not got any staff? Much simpler, but you still need to start with your Brand Strategy! ‘People buy from people’ (quote from someone more famous than me) and if you get your message right, tell a story that is authentic and learn to connect with your audience on an emotional level, your customers will buy into you, what you stand for and your story, over and above the products and services that you sell.
Once you’ve got people on your side, you need to give them the things you want them to say about your business, otherwise they will make their own things up. That’s where your Brand Strategy comes in (have I mentioned that you need one of those?)
WHAT IS A BRAND STRATEGY?
Good question! Probably my favourite question of all time. I’m a big fan of a Brand Strategy. I believe that no business should be without one and that every business can benefit from having one.
There are lots of different versions of strategies out there, so I can only tell you about the B is for Brand method of writing a Brand Strategy.
In my version, it’s a single piece of paper, with five key headings (sometimes six). I’ve seen other Branding Consultants produce sixty-six page documents that they call a Brand Strategy. I’m not one of those I’m afraid. I like to keep things simple. I tend to drift off by the time I get to the second page. I definitely can’t read, let alone remember sixty-six pages worth of advice.
My version includes your deepest darkest thoughts on WHY you get out of bed in the morning to do this particular thing and why anyone should care about that (including your staff).
It talks about your wildest dreams.
It talks about the practical next steps you must take.
It talks about your goals and priorities.
In your Brand Strategy, you share what the beliefs and the personality of the business are, so that people can decide if they want to connect with you and be in your TRIBE (because people buy people, right?)
It will put some people off. Well, you don’t want all eight billion people in the world to come knocking at your office door, do you?
When you’re building a brand, you need to get comfortable with the fact that you’re not for everyone and that’s OK.
HOW DO I USE A BRAND STRATEGY?
Once you’ve written your Brand Strategy, you just put it away in a drawer. No, only kidding – don’t do that. But you would be AMAZED at how many people do.
Once you’ve gone to the effort of writing your Brand Strategy (I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty head-scratchy process), you might as well put it to good use helping you grow your business, right?
The first thing you do is you SHARE it! Share it with your staff, your fellow board members, and anyone who helps you grow your business. Definitely share it with all the creative people. They love a Brand Strategy. More than that, they will produce better work for you because you’ve given them clear guidance about what you want. I’m talking about web designers, graphic designers, photographers, videographers, copy writers, social media bods – all that gang LOVE a clear Brand Strategy.
The best way for YOU to start using your Brand Strategy to guide you is to look at it regularly. I recommend at least once a month. Start asking the question: ‘Does this fit with my Brand Strategy?’.
WHY DO I NEED A BRAND?
Like the sound of that?
WHY DO I NEED A BRAND STRATEGY?
Your Brand Strategy guides everything else about your brand. It also makes business decision making much easier. The Brand Strategy is the song sheet that everyone in your business is singing from. Singing one song in unison, you make a very loud choir!
IS IT OK TO CHANGE MY BRAND COLOURS?
IS IT OK TO CHANGE MY LOGO?
What completely change it, or just change it a little bit?
Completely change it: Yes it is. As long as you do it for strategic reasons and consider how you’re going to do it without confusing or losing your existing loyal customers.
Just a tweak or two: Evolution, not revolution my friends, is the key to keeping your brand relevant. So if staying relevant is a key part of your Brand Strategy, embrace change.
Don’t have a Brand Strategy? Oooops….(see me after class).
But in either case, remember that consistency is the most important thing in building a strong brand.
HOW DO I BUILD MY BRAND?
You need to remember what I like to call, ‘The Four Cs’
CLARITY – have a clear message and don’t confuse your customer
CONSISTENCY – pay attention to the details and make sure you are easy to recognise
CREATIVITY – Have fun doing ‘you!’ don’t follow the herd or every latest trend. Create a unique look, style and tone, then bring to life ideas that will make your business stand out and be memorable.
CONTROL – make sure you have really robust Brand Guidelines in place – and use them.
FURTHER QUESTIONS TO FOLLOW INCLUDE ...
HOW DO I INCREASE BRAND AWARENESS?
HOW MANY BRANDS SHOULD MY BUSINESS HAVE?
DOES MY NEW PRODUCT OR SERVICE NEED A SEPARATE BRAND?
WHAT IS WHITE LABELLING AND SHOULD I DO IT?
WHAT IS BRAND ARCHITECTURE?
HOW DO I WRITE A GREAT TAGLINE OR SLOGAN?
DOES MY TAGLINE MATTER?
HOW DO I GET MY BRAND MESSAGES RIGHT?
HOW DO I WRITE A BRAND STORY?
HOW SHOULD MY BRAND INFLUENCE MY COMPANY CULTURE?
WHAT’S YOUR BEST BRANDING ADVICE?
I’ve got a great little series of bite-sized training videos for you that will take you through the logical steps required to write a great Brand Strategy for your business.