Branding: Defining your business' personality
Branding is the impression you make on your customers. It grows out of the essence of your business, service or product. Think of your brand as your business' personality. It is a combination of your promise to customers and their perception of you. But how can you shape it?
When defining your brand, you may want to start by considering your business and what makes it unique. Then take a look at your audience, your competitors and your industry. This may help you narrow your scope as your business can't be all things to all people.
Assess your audience:
- What is your audience seeking? What do they value?
- How do your customers see your products and services?
- How can you build a relationship with your target audience?
- Why should they choose your business and its offerings over another?
Evaluate your competitors:
- What can your business offer that your competitors can't?
- Are you sure your offering or image stands out from theirs?
Examine your industry:
- What is your position within your industry?
- What are the existing trends? How can you prepare for the next ones?
The answers may help you develop or fine-tune your brand. Adding value to the market, rather than clutter, can help make your brand distinctive. It may not enough to have a good hook; following through on your brand's promise and delivering quality are also important factors.
You may not realize it, but you communicate your brand whenever you reach your audience. Each connection can have both an emotional and an intellectual impact through your:
- Logo, graphic design, signature colours
- Packaging, shopping bags, menus
- Website, advertising, print materials
- Interior design, store front, signage, location
- Customer service, uniforms, voicemail message
- Sponsorships, promotions, partnerships
When you define and develop your brand with care, your business may enjoy some very positive benefits. A strong brand may:
- Entice customers
- Build loyalty
- Enable you to charge a higher price
- Make it easier for the customer to make a choice
You don't have to leave first impressions to chance — take the opportunity to determine your own branding rather than allow outsiders to define your business' identity.
For more on defining and communicating your brand, have a look at our sections on Marketing basics and Public relations and media relations. You can also find more useful information on understanding your competitors in our Sales and customer relationship management section.