Branding is the most important step a small business takes in its journey to become a recognized and widely respected company. It is the process whereby a business forms an identity and carves out a place for itself in the industry. Of course, this means it can be a daunting and stressful process, and there are endless aspects to consider while going about it. So to make things a bit easier on you, we’ve put together this crash course in the basics of branding. With these tips in mind, you’ll be better equipped to take on the task of transforming your startup into a household name.
The key to a successful branding campaign is understanding the methodology and consumer psychology underlying the process. The goal is not simply to create a visual identity, but to carve out a new business category. When a consumer thinks of that category, they will immediately recall your company. Start by condensing the entire ethos and mission of your business into a single sentence. What do you do? What do you provide that no one else can?
The Power of Aesthetics
After inhabiting a niche, the second most important element of a brand is its aesthetic. Consistency is key. The image you develop will be the face of your business. It needs to pervade everything you do, and become distinctly, uniquely yours. This applies to everything from letterhead to web presence. Many companies today are taking innovative approaches to native advertising: integrating their marketing strategy seamlessly into the information, entertainment, and online content consumed by their customers.
Another often-overlooked aspect of brand aesthetics is the evocative power of names. Countless studies have shown certain consonances and letter combinations produce strong image associations. Meaningless words and brand names can convey ideas like sharpness, harmony, sour taste, fluidity, and an endless host of other notions. Choose your name carefully and get the reactions of as many people as possible before settling on the word or phrase that will become the pneumonic device customers remember you by.
Business and marketing today depend upon social media, and the inception of your brand will too. Build your company blog, Facebook, and Twitter with a distinct and consistent look. Adopt interesting themes and marketing strategies that will keep customers coming back. Most importantly, don’t sell on social networking sites. Social media is about disseminating your company ethos and identity to build loyalty and recognition.
These networks also offer an invaluable tool for researching your customer base and learning about their habits and preferences.
A Word about Legality
When dealing with the tricky territory of trademarking, it is best to always hire a lawyer. Get it done correctly to avoid serious complications in the future. Also, be cognizant of the distinction between a word mark and a logo mark. One only protects the image of your logo – not your business’ name. Unless you happen to be Nike or Pepsi, you probably don’t need a logo mark. Another thing to keep in mind is that generic phrases can get you into legal trouble. You can’t name your brand ‘Chocolate Bar’ or ‘Pretzel Crisp,’ for example.
The important thing to keep in mind is that none of this happens overnight, and none of it happens by accident. In the long run, it pays to prepare. Branding is all about crafting an image that will be implanted in the minds of consumers. That image needs to evoke your strengths in every way, because it will eventually come to define you. The process of creating a brand is a challenge, but it is also one of the most exciting times for new businesses.