A strong brand is a “must have” in today’s business environment, an essential tool to communicate what differentiates you from, and elevate you above, your peers.The term “brand” takes its roots from the Wild Wild West – that mark seared onto the back of cattle to designate ownership. Of course, the concept has evolved since then, but its implicit meaning is still the same: a brand is something that marks your company or service as unique.
Brand used to be defined as the combination of name, slogan, sign, symbol or design that identify the products or services of a company. Today it stretches to encompass something more complex: it’s a set of associations that an existing or potential customer has of a company, product, service or individual. Get it right and it will benefit you by:
• Clearly delivering your message
• Confirming your credibility
• Emotionally connecting with your target prospects
• Motivating prospects to buy
• Creating loyalty
Your brand is your promise to your customer, it tells them what they can expect from you. It is a badge of trust that will set you apart from competitors and can give you a lasting competitive edge. Strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, the added value brought by your company’s products, that allows you to charge more than an identical, unbranded product.
Building a strong brand combines the practices of art and science. It requires both innovative and memorable design, and a lot of analysis and research. We are here to guide you through the eight basic steps to perfectionate your unique asset, and have a glimpse at its overall importance.
1. Decide who you are.
First, set the core values of your business, your mission and how you differ from the competition. Basically, it is about telling yourself who you are, what you sell and how, first and foremost. Once it is clear to you, the rest of the world will follow.
2. Define your brand.
This includes the visual elements of your business, but also what you do, how you do it, what your client interactions are like, the type of information you share in your marketing across all your products, or services and channels, like your website, your social media, and so on.
3. Identify Your Audience.
Who would be interested in your products, or services? Learn about them. Learn about their needs, habits, and desires. Know what they think. Make sure what you tell your customers or prospects matches what they want and what you actually deliver. It’s no use developing a premium brand if your target market just wants value for money, for instance.
4. Stand Out!
Your one chance for success is to be remarkable. Your logo and name should be unique, memorable and easily recognizable, the overall design should convey the nature and tone of your company, as well as appeal to your target audience. Everything must be properly co-ordinated and integrated.
5. Maintain A Consistent Brand Identity.
The term ‘brand identity’ refers to the visual elements as your logo and associated assets like photography, color palette, etc. Creating a ‘brand guideline’ will help you to keep a consistent approach and the more consistent your branding is, the more people will remember your brand.
6. Create A Company Voice.
The way you say it is as important as what you say. Your company’s “voice” is your language and personality and need to fit your brand identity. As aforementioned on point 4, it is part of standing out from the crowd. By any means necessary.
7. Keep Your Customers Happy.
The effectiveness of brand doesn’t just happen before the purchase. It’s about the overall experience you give a consumer, remember? Did the product or service perform as expected? Was the quality as good as promised? How was the service experience? If you can get positive answers to these questions, you’ve created a loyal customer.
8. …And not only Customers.
Brand not only creates loyal customers, but it creates loyal employees. Brand gives them something to believe in, something to stand behind. And fosters relationship with all external stakeholders. For small companies as well as larger corporations. The brand is a story to tell, which tells your story.
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Giusy Cannone is Chief Executive Officer of Fashion Technology Accelerator.
She is the reference point for FTA’s corporate projects, also creating business connections for startups in the Acceleration Program and mentoring participants of our Masterclasses,