That is a question many people ask, and the reason they ask is that only a few enlightened people seem to know or understand what a brand is and why you need one to build your business.
However, this is not strictly true.
Every company, no matter how large or small it is, will benefit from having a brand.
But, how can we define what a brand is?
If you read every book and theory on what a brand is and what branding does, I doubt very much if you would be any the wiser.
The word I would use to describe branding is perception. A brand defines how your customer perceives your company.
What does that mean?
In a blind tasting between Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola, Pepsi edged ahead of coke. However, on open tastings, Coca-Cola was perceived to be superior to Pepsi.
Coke’s iconic shaped bottle and distinctive typeface suggested their cola was better than Pepsi’s, even though the blind tasting suggested otherwise.
Coca Cola’s brand or image was enough to convince people of its superiority over its rival.
However, this persuasive power was not achieved overnight. It has taken years of continually delivering a product their customers expect and appreciate for the Coke brand to get the recognition it does today.
But, they had to start somewhere.
So how do you go about creating a brand?
The first stage is creating the visual image.
Although having a brand is more than just a logo and a stylish typeface, they are important parts of the first stage. How you go about creating the visual side of your brand really depends on your budget and your creative skills.
There are companies who specialise in “Identity Design.” They will create a logo, a typeface and any other visual component they feel will reflect what your company represents.
However, these companies tend to charge substantial fees. An alternative to an expensive agency would be to sit down with a good graphic designer who would help create an image for you.
Another alternative, if you think you have the creative skills, would be to design your own logo and company image. It would certainly be the cheapest, but not necessarily the best.
Whatever path you take, it is important that you concentrate on the design of your logo. So many people believe a logo can be just a clever looking squiggle, but this is not true. A logo must visually convey what your company is offering your prospective customers.
If you feel your creative skills do not stretch to creating a design right for you, it may be worth investing in hiring the services of a logo designer.
However, if your creativity can stretch to creating a logo, you may consider writing a strapline for your business; it will help register your brand in people’s minds.
What is a strapline?
A strapline is a short phrase that summarises your USP (Unique Selling Point) and why you stand far above the competition.
Some of the biggest companies in the world use strap lines.
- Nike – Just do it.
- John Lewis – Never knowingly undersold.
- British Airways – The world’s favourite airline.
- McDonald’s – I’m Lovin’ It.
If you can write a good strapline, why not add it to your brand.
The Second Stage in Creating a Brand
Once you have finalised your graphics, your logo and typeface, you are now ready for the second stage in creating your brand.
However, you are not quite there yet.
You must make sure your graphics can be seen as much as possible and it goes without saying that they must be on your distribution leaflets.
Your logo and strapline appearing on your leaflets will help build your brand. It will help you win new clients and repeat business. A strong brand will create trust in your company and your products or services.
They must appear on your stationery, and any other literature you send out.
If your company uses vehicles your logo and company name should appear on them too, with your strapline as well, of course.
Your company logo and name should appear on all work clothes your employees wear when visiting your customer’s or working on jobs.
Even if you are a one-person concern it will be worth investing in some overalls or work shirts with your logo and name on them.
Everything you do to show your logo and company name will enforce the power of your brand. It will encourage trust and confidence in your company.
The next step
When you finally have all your visuals in place, you are now ready to implement the second stage of creating your brand.
This may require the biggest effort from you. You will have to deliver on your promises.
Your staff will be aware of what you wish to achieve.
Any negative issues regarding your products or services must be dealt with swiftly and courteously.
Be consistent! If you’re not consistent with your brand, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.
Of course, if you have a successful business and have been doing this for years, you may already have a strong brand.
However, if you think your company needs a boost in sales, you should think about creating and marketing a brand for your business.