Successful branding is something all businesses want to achieve. Quality branding promotes recognition and helps differentiate you from your competition. Essentially, branding is the foundation of your company's story, encompassing everything from logo design to how your employees respond to phone calls. A strong brand generates leads and new customers, while simultaneously providing direction and guidance for your employees.
For successful businesses like Coca-Cola, Ford, McDonald’s and TripAdvisor, their value extends beyond their tangible products and warehouses. These brands are worth millions or even billions of dollars in and of themselves, thanks to long-term, successful branding strategies that gave them widespread recognition and favorable association.
If your business is just beginning to navigate the intricate waters of branding strategy, here’s a strong list of best practices:
Identify Your Potential Customers
Proper targeting is crucial for successful branding. Knowing the behaviors, goals and needs of your potential customers can aid tremendously in developing a strong branding and marketing campaign. Reaching the right people starts with identifying your target audiences. Use a combination of information from competitors and analytical insight, culled everywhere from social media insights to market sector data, to figure out who you want to reach specifically.
Project a Strong Identity and Voice
After identifying your target audience, you can begin forming your brand identity — things that remind people of your brand, as well as its voice. Regardless of whether your voice strives to be humorous and persuasive or clear and consistent, be sure to maintain consistency. Technical platforms may opt for the latter, while a social media app or video platform may assume the former, more easygoing tone. Having your audience in mind is essential for deciding this. For example, a younger audience will find a greater connection with something more personal than technical.
The Zoological Wildlife Foundation saw great results after rebranding their identity and voice, keeping their tone light and fun while also continuously highlighting their love for animals. The result was a 343 percent increase in online presence, and a 63 percent increase in website traffic.
Maintain Social Media Consistency
If a customer is curious about your business and looks up your Facebook page, only to find that the most recent post was a month ago and engagement is low, that’s not a very positive impression. Especially with the younger market, social media attentiveness is crucial in establishing a brand that’s both tech-savvy and attentive. A poor social media presence can give off the impression of not caring about customers.
Social media strategies will vary among businesses. For example, an arts-centric business may find more of an audience on visual-forward platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, while a tech company may find product exposure more opportune on a data-driven site like Facebook. Regardless of the method, be sure to maintain consistency in responding to any questions in comments, as well as keeping things interesting. Hold contests for discounts. Post interesting polls about your market and audiences. Show that you care about and love your industry.
All brands should strive to show that customer service is a top priority. An attentive, consistent presence on social media can be one of the easiest, most effective ways to accomplish this.
Craft Quality Blog Content
Social media is great for reaching new audiences, but so is blogging. Every business should have a section of their website devoted to a company blog, where they write about everything from topic-related expertise to company culture, such as employee events and initiatives. Quality blog content can elevate your business’ placement in search engines, while convincing potential leads that you’re savvy and knowledgeable within your niche. As with establishing a social media presence, consistent and frequent posting is key if your company commits to blogging.
Now, let’s look at some aspects it’s better to avoid:
Don’t Be Overly Personal on Social Media
Social media makes it easy to engage with your customers and answer any topical questions that may arise. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that comment sections can result in conflict among consumers, whether it’s a politics-related squabble or something else. Quality branding manages to deliver a company’s persona without instigation or hostility. For the sake of your image, it’s better to steer clear of customer conversations that involve a high degree of negativity. Also, keep in mind that whoever is tasked with managing your social media is always representing your company’s brand, and must avoid injecting their own personal opinions into posts.
Don’t Skimp on Design Costs
Studies show that people make intricate assessments of a company or product based on the shape of its logo. For many, especially those stumbling upon a brand or product, this is an introduction. If they’re met with an outdated, oddly shaped logo, they may associate your business with being outdated. However, a logo that appears sleek and professional will exude knowledge and commitment. A business that fails to invest in brand imagery — including is never a positive in the eyes of the consumer.
Don’t Over-Value Quantity
Sure, it’s great if your social media users are fast on the rise, but that shouldn’t be good enough. Social media following numbers on their own don’t become committed customers. You have to engage with these followers and ensure that quality is valued over quantity, not vice versa. In regard to branding, it reminds to focus on capturing your target audience, rather than attempting an all-encompassing branding that tries to appeal to too many.
Don’t Become Overly Cheesy or Predictable
If your branding seems like it came from a “Branding 101” textbook, as opposed to truly encompassing your business’ goals and passion, then people will be less likely to gravitate toward it. Excessive branding can be a pitfall when a company attempts too much, whether it’s in the form of an ill-informed fashion line offshoot or overly cliché commercial. Have your branding show that you’re trying, though not too much so to the point of desperation.
Company branding is a thorough, intricate process, though by understanding successful methods like generating quality content, connecting on social media and communicating with a relevant audience you can create a fantastic brand and image.