Why bother with branding at all?
Branding can help define and develop your business and positively identifies and separates you from your competitors. For more reasons why it is essential for any commercial manager to create a strategy for a strong identity see our recent article 5 Resons Why It Is Smart To Focus On Building A Strong Brand
The Biggest Global Brands
For more than 100 years company directors have been developing strong and recognisable brands to help consumers trust their wares and services and help them stand out from their competitors. Global leaders like Coca-Cola have paved the way and this year the top most valuable brands include the online, computer technology and communications companies Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google. (1)
Focus on solving the problem first
Every business has a problem they are solving for their customer. An example is a dog walking business that helps busy people ensure their beloved K9 is well cared for. This product or service solution for the customer is the basis of your brand. Once the key focus is identified you can add ‘variations on a theme’ and content that relates to your customers.
Develop your unique voice
Stephanie at ‘Don’t Buy Her Flowers’ describes the “voice and tone” of the brand as being important. This is important as it is an opportunity to add character and emotions to your basic offering that will set you apart from other companies, especially larger organisations.
For example at DBHF Stephanie and her team provide “comfort and TLC (tender loving care) with beautifully gift wrapped products hand picked by the customer” for the lucky recipient who will even receive a handwritten note card with their order. (2)
Knowing your company’s unique selling point or USP will help with this part of your branding.
Let your website sing your praises
Websites are still important for your clients to find you and act as a central hub of information for your enterprise. Owning your own domain is crucial and web hosting providers range from a general good all rounder like IONOS web hosting to a more technically advanced user who needs more services like mywebtonet.com (3) (4)
Build a website which reflects your business in a good light for your industry and sector. Look at what your competitors are doing but don’t be afraid to ‘challenge the norms’ if it is appropriate to what you do. Make sure all the relevant information and contact details are prominent and update your blog regularly to showcase your projects and events.
James Eadie is the Brand Manager for GoDaddy web hosting which boasts more than 20 million entrepreneurs using their domains and hosting services this year. Mr Eadie reveals that “Telling the story of their own customers has been the best way to communicate about the real businesses” that they help in order to attract new custom and reinforce their brand. (5)
Everyone has to start somewhere modest. John Lewis started with a small draper’s shop in Oxford Street in London in 1864 whilst Marks and Spencer opened a ‘Penny Bazaar’ in Leeds in 1884. (6) (7)
Tell your story
Not every start up has a heartwarming or enthralling story of how they developed from scratch. Use your unique journey to convey how you started in the early days and what challenges you have overcome and surprises you have received along the way to help men and women of all ages identify with your unique qualities and want to support your success in the future.
A good example of a story with character and a family working together is Tony Fruits who are based in Chichester in West Sussex. Tony Fruits sells high quality fruit and vegetables as well as groceries at the markets locally and also for home delivery. Their family business goes back three generations and was originally formed in the 1930’s with a stall in Croydon in London. (8)
Use social media to build your brand
Pick social media channels that are where your potential customers are likely to be. It is a fine idea to stick to one or two social outlets and do them well.
Sharing mini adverts about your business on facebook and Instagram helps new followers understand what you do. Facebook and Instagram offer the facility to add a link to your marketplace now which could help boost sales and links to your website.
Word of mouth is still golden
Encourage your customers to add recommendations and reviews about your services and what they think of your products. Even a single word or a short sentence builds confidence in potential customers. People love to hire and purchase from their friend’s suppliers as well as their favourite shops.
Get a great Logo
Logos and visual imagery is still important in branding. Some companies have a colour palette they stick to faithfully throughout their website, interiors, packaging and stationery. Animals and cartoon images of people are memorable and can work well if they represent your niche clearly. A clever or individual logo will help fans recognise, locate and follow you all over the internet and also find you at temporary events too. In an era of multi-channel retailing the brand is vital to spreading a consistent message of what the latest news and essential items in your collection are this week. Your logo and marketing material should reflect the values and ethos of the company confidently.
Wear your colours with pride
Some of the best instagram feeds feature carefully chosen and limited shades and hues. Jo Booth is an expert from Social Media Marketing Made Simple (SMMMS) and recommends Quaintlykate on instagram for her delightful cream, silver and pale pink feed which conveys her wedding and special occasion stationery perfectly. (9) Jo Booth has recently launched a YouTube channel to share her tips and knowledge about creating a memorable online brand through mastering social media.
Even a rainbow of strong brights can work well together if the theme of your images is global and decorative. For example globalinteriordesign on instagram curated by @lizziemontgomerydesign
Walk the walk and do some good
Once your brand identity is established enhance your message by communicating what you believe in and what is important to your sector of the industry and talk and write about what is important and relatable to you, your goals and your customers. For example if you are an outdoor visitor attraction organisation, then holding workshops and publishing educational articles about conservation, gardening, outdoor dining and the history of the local area will entertain and engage residents and tourists alike.
Last week Rob Downs at the Federation of Small Businesses spoke with insight when he described how Marcus Rashford MBE was able to use his experience of a tough working class upbringing and his platform as a successful footballer to influence policy makers to change the law for the better and help children facing food poverty in the UK today. (10)
The Manchester United player campaigns on homelessness and child hunger and his organisation End Child Food Poverty drove policy change at Westminster to ensure children from disadvantaged backgrounds received free meals during school closures because of the coronavirus pandemic. The athlete’s story continues to inspire many around the world and more than 10 million people follow Marcus Rashford on instagram alone. (11) (12)
More than ever consumers want to know the ethics and values of all the companies they purchase goods and services from. Branding should reflect your environmental and equality policies. From details of how your goods are made, transported and maintained on the pages on your website to videos showing ‘work in progress’ manufacturing demonstrations, it is a good idea to let everyone know your sustainability practices and company culture to help generate trust in your brand.
(1) The Top 50 Most valuable Global Brands, Katie Jones, 11 January 2021 The Top 50 Most valuable Global Brands, Katie Jones
(2) ‘Thoughtful Gifts for Any Occasion’ Stephanie Douglas, Don’t Buy Her Flowers, 20 May 2021 ‘Thoughtful Gifts for Any Occasion’ Stephanie Douglas, Don’t Buy Her Flowers
(3) ‘UK’s fastest hosting’ IONOS web hosting, 20 May 2021 ‘UK’s fastest hosting’ IONOS web hosting
(4) ‘Need web hosting for your WordPress?’ MyWebToNet web hosting, 20 May 2021 ‘Need web hosting for your WordPress?’ MyWebToNet web hosting
(5) ‘Create your website’ GoDaddy, 20 May 2021 ‘Create your website’ GoDaddy
(6) ‘Our History’ John Lewis Partnership, 20 May 2021 ‘Our History’ John Lewis Partnership
(7) ‘Our History’ Marks and Spencer Ltd., 20 May 2021 ‘Our History’ Marks and Spencer Ltd
(8) ‘A little bit about our business’ Tony Fruits, 20 May 2021 ‘A little bit about our business’ Tony Fruits
(9) ‘Good news Jo working with sage UK’ Social Media Makes Sense SMMS, 20 May 2021 ‘Good news Jo working with sage UK’ Social Media Makes Sense SMMS
(10) ‘Coronavirus (Covid-19: Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed’, Federation of Small Business (fsb) 20 May 2021 ‘Coronavirus (Covid-19: Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed’, Federation of Small Business (fsb)
(11) ‘Marcus Rashford’ Wikipedia, 20 May 2021 ‘Marcus Rashford’ Wikipedia
(12) Let’s #EndChildFoodPoverty, 20 May 2021 Let’s #EndChildFoodPoverty, 20 May 2021