A TV commercial, magazine ad, or brightly colored logo on a product in a shop window?
All of these things are examples of branding elements, but branding is about more than colors and advertisements.
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It’s anything that affects how the public views your company—from the sounds, sights and scents in your building’s waiting room to the way customer service representatives interact with clients on the phone.
Branding is complicated. There’s no simple one-size-fits-all strategy for every company. But as you put together a plan for your business’s brand, these simple but effective branding techniques are bound to come in handy.
An elevator pitch is a brief description of your company—brief enough that it could be delivered over the course of a short elevator ride. It’s one of the first things you should create when building your business’s brand.
This is an extremely versatile tool. It’s useful any time you introduce your company to a potential client or a fellow entrepreneur who might partner with you. It could also appear in written form, such as on your business’s website or in a press release you send to the media.
When you write an elevator pitch, focus on the problem your company solves. Identify the specific issue your clients struggle with and the solution you offer. Also, consider who you’ve built your solution for.
Keep in mind an elevator pitch isn’t something you write once and never reevaluate. It evolves with your company.
Pressed had an amazing one that got them media coverage.
“Pressed is an intelligent personal assistant designed to keep people focused on whatever goals they have; like working out, eating healthier, or even just drinking more water.
Want to run a 5k? Pressed will learn that your office isn’t the place to remind you to train. However, it may notice you’ve been at home for a while and may have the time to get out there and break a sweat.”
When you register your company, the law already thinks of it as a separate entity. Why don’t you? Sometimes the best way to figure out your brand’s personality is to, well, personify it. The point of a brand is to engage with clients on a personal level.
If your company were a person, who would they be? Would they be kind, motherly and nurturing? Authoritative and no-nonsense? Or goofy and irreverent?
Once you identify the personality traits that make up your brand, you can incorporate those traits into your various communications and media.
Blog posts become more vibrant, advertisements are more effective, and you have guidelines about how to act in every situation. You can always ask “What would (insert brand name) do?
Michael Kors has a strong brand personality and it shines through their Instagram Feed.
When all of the major brands in your industry are similar, that’s referred to as brand parity; it’s the perfect opportunity to set yourself apart.
Branding techniques that make you stand out involve more than a logo with bright colors or a unique slogan.
It’s about highlighting the strengths that make you different from your competition, whether that’s lower prices, a wider selection, or friendly service. It also wouldn’t hurt to champion a cause.
Focus on what makes your company unique and make those elements prominent wherever possible. If you built your company to give back to kids in the arts, then let it be known. If you’re on a mission to eradicate banality, then show it rather than tell it.
The Middle Finger Project is a brand that’s nailed this aspect.
It’s important for a brand to be flexible, but this becomes a problem when you try to be everything to everyone.
If the design of your product’s packaging, the look of your website, and the way representatives interact with clients are all different and at odds with one another, you’re just going to confuse your clients.
People don’t interpret a company with inconsistent branding as “flexible,” they just see it as a brand that can’t be trusted. They see them as incompetent. We don’t spend money on incompetent people and things.
Keep your branding elements consistent across all platforms. If you create custom envelopes to be mailed to potential clients, for instance, make sure they use the same logo recipients see when they visit your website.
Your entire team must be on the same page. Create a set of brand guidelines and ensure that everyone fully understands them. You can also allow your brand guidelines to be publicly available so when people want to mention you or use your logo, they’ll get it right.
Skype created a simple yet detailed set of guidelines for their brand. They get bonus points for making it fun to read.
Regardless of your field, understanding the details of your industry should be an important part of anybody’s brand.
The term “subject matter expert” isn’t something you can just call yourself and expect people to trust in. Put in the required research so you can truly call yourself an expert in your field.
This is a constant process, not something you just do once. Stay up to date on all of the latest trends so that you can better assist your clients.
Subscribe to industry blogs, contribute to magazines, and jump on large forums in your space. The more you put out there, the easier it will be to get found.
Taking a stance on something you feel strongly about (especially something controversial) is an excellent way to show clients your conviction.
That said, not all “controversy” is valuable, or even controversial in the first place. Sometimes things which seem ideal for getting attention are reinforcing the status quo. At worst, they can hurt vulnerable people without helping you.
Saying something blatantly offensive about minorities, for instance, might get people talking, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to sales.
You should also be careful not to simply “go with the flow” and support any cause that you think will make people like you. People can see through these sorts of disingenuous tactics. If you take a stance, make sure it’s something you believe in.
Every time you buy a FEED item, they’ll use a percentage of the proceeds to either buy a meal for a child or donate to various mother-child nutritional programs.
It’s not exactly controversial, but they do stand for something.
It’s tempting to think of your company’s branding as an afterthought—some pretty window dressing you put together after the real business is done.
That’s no longer true. Today, there are dozens of options in every space. Individuals need for you to do more than solve a problem. Without a strong brand, clients won’t understand who your company is and what you stand for, and they’ll take their business elsewhere.
Don’t rush the creation of your company’s brand. Instead, take the time to build it with purpose and style.
Do you have more branding techniques or success stories to share? Let me know about them in the comments.