So you have a great idea, a thriving business, or you’re an established brand looking to update your message and reconnect with your audience; whatever the case may be, getting your branding right will benefit your business.
As a small business, you may be competing against big brands with devoted customers and unlimited marketing budgets. That’s why you have to find ways to stand out—with a solid brand-building process of your own.
Make no mistake about it: a recognizable and loved brand is one of the most valuable assets a company owns.
To help you in branding, let’s take a look at 6 branding guidelines that will help you take your small business to the next level.
What is a brand?
Simply put, your brand is defined by a customer’s overall perception of your business.
The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, says it even better: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Your brand is your reputation!
In today’s market, a successful brand has to be consistent in communication and experience, across many applications:
- Environment (storefront or office)
- Print collateral, signage, packaging
- Website & online advertising
- Content publishing
- Sales & customer service
- Internal (with employees)
Now, is brand-building simple? The truth is: branding doesn’t happen overnight…or even in a few months.
Building a brand is definitely a process and requires a strategy. However, the ongoing effort will result in establishing long-term relationships with your customers.
Branding is the marketing practice of actively shaping your brand. That’s the basic definition, but there is so much more that goes into it.
This can lead to a steady increase in leads and sales, word-of-mouth referrals, and advocacy for your products or services.
6 Effective Branding Guidelines
1. Ask yourself why?
Why are you acting the way you are? The values, purpose, and mandate of your brand will be defined by how you respond to this question. Having a great purpose-driven brand can also help you establish a deep connection with your target audience.
Simon Sinek is the inventor of The Golden Circle, a concept he coined. The Golden Circle starts with WHY at the center, followed by HOW and finally WHAT at the edge of the circle. He urges us to think about things from the inside out, starting with WHY, then HOW, and finally WHAT.
By creating your own Golden Circle and brainstorming and asking yourself these three important questions, you may accomplish this activity on your own. Starting with WHY, then HOW, and finally WHAT, explain why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Having a purpose or belief will surely engage your audience and link them with your business, whether it’s employing only organic means or solving a tiny but major problem for customers.
Branding is successful when every part of your business shows your value.
2. Brand vision
It’s time to come up with a vision statement once you’ve figured out your “why.” This identifies what you wish to accomplish. So, take out a pen and paper and start scribbling responses to the following questions:
- Think about where you would like your business to be in five to ten years
- Write the statement based on your “why” and your business’ values
- Make sure that your statement implies a clear focus for your business
- Write your vision statement in the present tense
- Distill your statement into clear and concise language
- Make sure the statement is easily understood. Check with friends and family that your vision is clear
Here are a few examples from some big brands:
- Coca-Cola: Our vision is to craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit. And done in ways that create a more sustainable business and better-shared future that makes a difference in people’s lives, communities, and our planet.
- Adidas: Our vision statement is “to be the design leaders with a focus on getting the best out of the athletes with performance guaranteed products in the sports market globally.” The vision statement can be drawn from the operations and the priorities of the company.
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3. Check your competition and find your unique selling point
Learn from your competitors, conduct research on them, and determine what makes your brand or company unique. Your unique selling proposition (USP) comes from how you position yourself in comparison to your competitors. Instead of focusing on how good my pens are and how long the ink lasts, think like Crayola and make your product synonymous with creativity. The vision and goal of Crayola are to free children’s minds from the “What If?” questions.
A handy checklist for finding your USP:
- Make a list that includes all the features and benefits that are unique about your product or service.
- Google your competitors and compare your features and benefits, then you can get a clearer picture of what small thing (or big thing) sets you apart.
- Think about an emotional need that will be met by your product or service.
- Look at it from your customer’s point of view and note down everything that springs to mind.
- Identify aspects of your product or service that your competitors cannot imitate.
- Underline anything that cannot be easily duplicated, reproduced, or copied.
- Think of phrases about your unique product or service, keep them clear and concise.
By using the words from the steps above, it will help you to form a slogan that will communicate your USP easily to your customers.
Your ideal slogan should explain all you want to say in the fewest possible terms, and you should use it everywhere! Simply remember to include your slogan in all of your marketing materials, including your website, social media profiles, and email signatures, as well as on your product. This will assist your audience in forming a bond with your brand.
The best slogans are more than a few words, they also conjure up images, emotions, memories, tastes.
Here are a few great examples to get your creative juices flowing:
- KFC “Finger-Lickin’ Good.”
- Red Bull “Gives You Wings.”
- FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.”
4. Personality counts
Establishing the proper brand personality will assist potential clients in determining whether you are the suitable brand for them. The tone of your voice and the words you use, as well as the type of font and colors you use, should all represent your personality. All of this will represent your brand’s values, as well as the values of your potential customers.
The ability to create a brand relies on a thorough understanding of the buyer persona. It aids in the visualization of your target clients’ demographics, such as age, gender, geography, and income.
To get even more definition for your brand’s buyer persona, you can explore these details:
- Brand affinities
Also, think about your product or company and think if it were a person who would it be? It can be useful to think of well-known individuals and their personality attributes. The buyer persona and brand personality should then have strong crossovers.
5. Pitch perfect
With this idea, we’re talking about your tone of voice; your communications with your target audience must speak directly to them and connect with them.
If you were marketing organic linen to boutique hotels, you would use a different vocabulary to engage them than if you were selling trainers to teenagers. It may seem self-evident, but speaking to your customers in the appropriate tone of voice is critical; otherwise, your brand’s voice will be lost in a crowded marketplace.
6. Creating brand guidelines
Time for the final principle, now you have thoroughly researched and worked out your unique offer, it’s time to create brand guidelines. Creating brand guidelines helps you stay consistent and on message, throughout all your communications from packaging to website to an email signature. It all adds up to create a well-rounded recognizable brand.
So, here’s what your brand guidelines should include:
- Company logo and strapline
- Colour palette
- Document styling
- Digital styling
Putting principles into practice
Remember to research your competition and gain an advantage over them by digging deep into “Why” you are doing what you are doing. Never undervalue the importance of properly understanding and connecting with your audience.
A strong brand strategy adds tangible value and creates memorable experiences for customers. Once a positive reputation is established, only the sky is the limit for growth possibilities.
Want to know more about logo branding costs, read our tips on how much does a logo design costs in Nigeria in 2021.