Many companies fail to recognize just how important it is to have a strong brand. While many businesses set up and then start thinking about branding, the truth is that this should be front and central in any business plan. That’s because your brand is what will ultimately tie everything together as far as your business plan goes. This is what people will use to identify your company and it is how you will develop a reputation for yourself.
More than that, brand is what you use in order to communicate your plan and your values – which ultimately is what helps a company to go beyond simply having customers and to start having fans. The key is to understand what the term brand really encompasses and how to go about building one that is strong and that will help take your business from strength to strength.
Many companies make the mistake of conflating the term brand with the ‘logo’. A brand has a logo, but it is important to note that a brand is also much more than just a logo. In fact, your brand should start out with a mission statement. A mission statement is a statement of intent. This tells people what your company is all about, usually in just one or two short sentences.
Now, you might consider that the objective of your brand is to ‘make money’ but that’s obviously not what you will say in a video like this! Instead, you should talk about how you plan to actually have a positive impact on people’s lives and do something worthwhile with your brand.
So, for instance, if your company is a restaurant, then your mission statement might be something like:
“To create memorable moments and bring people closer through great tasting food.”
Notice that the statement isn’t just:
“To cook food”
“To make a large profit by selling food”
Something equally as viable but with a different tact might be:
“To create stunning edible works of art that look just as good as they taste.”
The reason this is important is that it can then inform the rest of the business strategy and it can help to provide some kind of coherence and consistency across everything the business does. It helps to outline who the target audience might be for the product or service too. In the first case, the audience will be couples and groups of friends who want to share a fun meal together.
The company is clearly emphasizing the social aspect and so this will probably be front and center in the way the restaurant itself is organized etc. It will help to dictate the new dishes that the company introduces and where it invests its money.
What’s more is that having a mission statement can inform the other aspects of your branding – such as your logo. So, once you have a mission statement and that has helped show what sets your business apart, you can then think about designing a logo that will communicate those points. The hope is that your logo will communicate what your business is about so well, that someone will know whether or not the business is right for them as soon as they see the logo.
This is crucial. Think about bodybuilding websites. You have sites that are about fitness and building muscle for the average Joe, and you have sites that are about hard core bodybuilding – aimed at people who make bodybuilding their life.
This is important because through the name and the image, the company is able to communicate immediately what it is about and who should wake up and take notice. And if you can communicate that message clearly, then you’ll be able to immediately attract the right kind of customers to your business.
And this is what I meant when I said that you need to attract ‘fans’ rather than jus customers. A fan is someone who doesn’t just buy your products because they fulfil the need they have for them. A fan is someone who believes in what you do and who views your business almost as more of a ‘movement’. This is someone who will be excited by the next thing that you do, and it is someone who will be more likely to comment on your videos, to wear your branded clothing and to shout about your business to their friends and family.
To create the logo based on your mission statement, a good way to start is by thinking about the works and the images that are associated with the topic and the tone of your business. If we were going with the artistic food restaurant, the we would of course consider any image that represents food to be fair game but at the same time we might think of more typically ‘arty’ images – things like paintbrushes perhaps, picture frames or even easels.
You might include a camera in there, seeing as the target audience is likely to consist very largely of people who would take photos of the food to share on Instagram.
Once you have a number of different appropriate images, your next job is to think about combining these in interesting ways. This is method is basically the same as using a ‘mood board’ and it’s a great way to come up with something unique.
A couple more tips:
Your brand now exists as a ‘throughline’ in everything you do. It is the intangible ‘youness’ of your products and your services that makes people excited for your next release. Apple’s brand is not its logo – it is the company’s design philosophy and attitude. But now you also have an image that people will associate with you and with that philosophy. Your next job is to try and employ that imagery as much as possible and in the best contexts that you can.
For instance, you need to ensure that you have a strong and consistent brand across all your social media platforms. The best approach to social media is to ‘be everywhere’. That means you should have a Facebook account, a Twitter account, an Instagram account etc. All of these should have the same logo and the same name to help create that consistent sense. This will also make your branding that much more visible and the business will seem a lot more professional as a result of it.
Likewise, you should ensure that your branding comes through in your web design. You achieve this by using those color codes in your site, and by settling on other decisions to help communicate what your business is about. Every consideration from your choice of font, to the type of language should all be in service of what you want to say about your business.
The same goes for brick and mortar stores and restaurants. Make sure your interior décor communicates your branding and helps to maintain that consistent image. Likewise, you should develop additional materials. That means things like opening animations for your videos, it means things like bottom thirds – it might even mean coming up with a musical jingle if appropriate for your advertising.
But most importantly, you need to make sure that you stay committed to the values and the message of your brand and that this is consistently the key consideration in everything you do. Don’t create a new product or service unless it is in keeping with what your brand means. That is how you build fans and grow your business.