When it comes to building a corporate brand, it’s sad to say, but most entrepreneurs get it completely wrong.
Many have a tendency to think that a brand is just a logo, website name or a colour scheme; and nothing could be further from the truth. And the reality of this misunderstanding is that it’s costing business owners tens of thousands and in some cases hundreds of thousands of pounds year on year.
So, what exactly is a “brand” if it’s not logos or colour schemes?
A CORPORATE BRAND IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF A BUSINESS.
When it comes to establishing and building a corporate brand, there are 4 very important things that you need to know to get your feet firmly on the ladder of building a truly authentic and magnetic brand that will convert potential prospects into customers.
1. Know Your Ideal Client BEFORE You Start To Build Your Brand
Most people get to work on ‘building their brand’ right after they make the decision to set up their own business. This is totally backwards!
Before you make a start building a brand, you need to know exactly who you’re looking to serve so that you can make sure your brand will be attractive to those perfect clients.
There’s an age-old marketing saying that “if you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one.” And unless you have a bottomless marketing budget, with money to burn, you’re going to want to tailor your marketing message and strategically hone in on the areas that are likely to offer the greatest impact on these ideal clients.
Having a marketing strategy and accurate plane of focus will save you mega bucks in the long run. It will attract the people you want to work with and most importantly those who are willing to pay you what you’re worth, without complaint.
Remember that all forms of marketing should be seen as an investment. It’s not just an admin exercise to “keep up with the Jones’”.
You need to be seeing a good ROI or what’s the point in doing it in the first place?
So, make sure that before you start worrying about branding, REALLY focus on who your ideal client is. Get to know them, their hopes, their fears, their problems, etc. so that you can position yourself as the “go-to person” for their particular requirements.
2. Have A Unique Corporate Identity
Now, this is where you might say I’m contradicting myself. Corporate Identity relates primarily to the “look and feel” of a company, the internal factors that show how a business is run; how it’s organized, its ethics and how it integrates into the business world.
A company’s identity should offer a range of distinguishing characteristics that separate it from any other similar businesses – i.e. the competition.
The quality and focus of a company’s products and services, in addition to their uniqueness, will also contribute to a company’s corporate ID.
Corporate identity is often represented by a unique LOGO or image. Some of the most successful companies in the world need no additional narrative to deem them instantly recognisable.
So the lesson here is DON’T BE TEMPTED TO DESIGN YOUR OWN CORPORATE IDENTITY. Most of us would never dream of cutting our own hair, servicing our own car, or writing our own wills; we insist on going to the experts. To the people who know exactly what they’re doing. But they somehow think that designing their own logo and corporate brand is acceptable.
A designer friend of mine and I often roll our eyes in despair at businesses who have clearly designed their own logos in Microsoft Word. The copy on their website professes that they’re ‘professional’ the ‘best in their field’ and ‘offer superior customer service’; but whether they realise it or not, their corporate brand says the absolute opposite.
If you’re serious about your business, you need to be serious about the visual image your portraying.
Take my advice and leave it to the experts!
3. Tap Into Your Customer’s Emotions
As well as the visual branding aspects of logos, mascots, colours etc, the one thing that most entrepreneurs forget when building a corporate brand is the emotional relationship that customers have with a company – how your customers and potential customers feel about you and what you do.
- Do your customers trust your company?
- Are they confident that you’ll provide a quality product or service?
- Do they perceive you as being ethical?
- Do they feel they get value for money from you?
- Would they recommend you to a friend or business associate?
If you answer ‘no’ to any of the above questions, I’d applaud you for your honesty. If you answer ‘yes’ to all of them, I’d probably ask for some supporting evidence [wink].
Every business owner has an obligation to make sure their Clients see them in the best light possible.
Client perception is absolutely vital to any business and it would be foolish to EVER underestimate its power; especially since many people now have the tools and know-how to alter, undo, change and enhance brand perceptions, simply by the click of a social media ‘send’ button!
Knowing how your customers REALLY feel about you and your company and incorporating that into your branding message will take you far.
Allay their fears, support their ideals and give them the solutions they need.
4. Maintain Brand Consistency
One of the main stumbling blocks for companies when it comes to company branding is inconsistency.
Nothing makes a company look more unprofessional than inconsistent or outdated client facing resources. This includes absolutely everything from price lists and brochures, to email footers, branded apparel and pop up banners.
Brand consistency is absolutely crucial to establish and retain customer confidence.
A good start is to develop a set of Brand Guidelines which lays out EXACTLY how you wish your company to be perceived.
This will become an invaluable tool for all of your employees as well as any external contractors and agencies, to make sure they adhere to the rules you set out.
Read more about branding and corporate ID >>>