Marketing is so much more than a series of Facebook posts or a billboard on the side of the road. It’s actually much, much more than that – a series of touch points between you and your customer, from the first moment they happen to glimpse an ad to the continued relationship they develop with your company.
Every single time they interact with you, it’s a marketing opportunity, especially for start-up businesses trying to establish a presence in a crowded marketplace.
Your brand encapsulates everything that you want people to think, feel and do – so achieving consistency from the outset is hugely important.
Here’s how to become consistent and make your brand one that customers won’t forget:
Work Out What You Stand For
Your brand should begin with a set of values – it’s from this place that authenticity is born, and that’s the one thing that customers will sense. Through having a clear set of company values, articulated to employees, clients and suppliers, you begin to establish trust. So spend some time planning out exactly what you’re going to stand for, what you want to live by and how you’re going to embody that in the day to day operations of your business.
Develop Brand Guidelines
Now that everyone is clear what it is that you embody as a company, it’s important to be visually consistent and to lay out some guidelines for your branding to be applied across different platforms – be that the header banners on your social media channels or a need to get quality fleet graphics – so that your logos, imagery, colours and tone of voice all let customers know instantly that they’re interacting with you. A brand style guide should be in-depth, specific and proscriptive, leaving no room for misinterpretation or error. Think about different potential usages and try to cover off every anticipated need. You can either work with a graphic design or branding agency to create these, or use a free tool like Canva to get started – these handy tips are a great starting place.
Share Your New Branding
A brand is something that needs to be used collectively, so once you’ve developed brand assets, make sure they are easily shareable. You don’t want to spend time on carefully developing a brand, only to see your logo misused somewhere. Create a brand presentation using software like Prezi to communicate your new brand values and what you’re trying to do, and add graphics and visual content to a service like SharePoint. You may want to develop some simple templates that are available for relevant people to use. Assign one person to have an overview of all branded material to ensure its being used correctly.
Create a Content Calendar
As well as the visual assets you’ve created, you need to ensure that the creative output that goes into your marketing aligns with your brand values. Any small business needs a content marketing strategy in order to make an impact in the online world. Put a content calendar in place outlining what you’re going to share and when- from social media posts to video content. What you share needs to make sense for the industry you’re operating in and your brand tone of voice. Are you providing expertise? Then write about industry trends and development. Have a useful product? Find topics in the application of it that align with the key messages you want people to know about your brand.
Sort Your Physical Assets
From the packaging your product gets delivered in to the clothes your customer-facing employees wear, everything in your physical world is an opportunity to reinforce your brand. Have people know who you are at first glance by ensuring the right colors and logos are instantly visible. You want people to know what to expect when they come to deal with you. When it comes to trade shows and similar events, stand out on a crowded show floor with bold colors and a simple proposition. Global brands like Starbucks and Nike are built on the strength of their consistency- you go into a store anywhere in the world and you instantly know what to expect. That makes it easy for them to be the default choice for their customers.
Branding gives your company a shorthand to communicate your values and personality. Reinforcing your key messages helps to position your product or service in the minds of your customers, making it easy for them to choose you. It drives trust in your company and what you stand for and creates customer loyalty. So get started on your positioning and you’ll soon be reaping the benefits.