Building Your Brand1hour
In this module, you will learn about learning how to build your brand from scratch or to redefine the existing one!
Before starting to actually create your brand, you need to think of a couple of issues. Who is your customer? Where should you act to reach them?
Knowledge of your target market is the main pillar of your business and brand.
If you know them, you can sell them.
Ignorance of your target market won’t lead directly to the bankruptcy of your business, but it will influence every single step in your branding process. Starting from your name choice, through the slogan to branding your products and services including marketing and its sales. You will target it to wrong people and finally sell nothing. Those are the mistakes that made on the beginning will be present till the end. That’s why ignoring this aspect of branding may decrease a performance of your business – to explain it better, we will start with an example of a Facebook advertising campaign.
If you tried to reach your customer via this tool, you already know that in order to create an ad, you have to define an audience that you want to target. Among available options, a marketer can choose from age, location, and interests. Poorly selected parameters may cause that an ad will be displayed to wrong people who would not be interested in your services. For instance, if your organisation sells posters with images of some manga characters, then you would probably target people up to 25 years who declared that like manga & anime. However, it is not always such easy to define your customers’ profiles. For instance, if you sell air compressors, who would be interested in your products? Is Facebook campaign relevant at all? If you don’t know how to start, here we come with the help.
Before you start selling at all, try to create various personas that represent your ideal customer.
It’s like creating a fake profile on Facebook. Take a piece of paper, close your eyes for a second and imagine an interaction with your typical client who would love to buy your product. Who he or she would be, what would be their job position and occupancy? Did they graduate from the University? What do they like? How do they react to the advertisement? Are they reserved or rather friendly and open to new relationships?
Try to get into their clothes, be them for a minute and think like they would do. That will allow you to better understand the needs, the character, and values of an ideal representative of your audience.
Below you have an example of persona that I created one day:
So far, I defined branding as creating an ‘image’ of the company and portrayed brands as being ‘intangible’. Building such an image of the firm and planting it in clients’ minds, requires emotional links between the company, its customers and the society as a whole. Brands are inevitably driven by emotions.
People like to think that they make their buying decisions based purely on rational grounds. The truth is that when people buy an iPhone or a Mercedes car, they usually do it because they have a positive image of those companies. iPhones can be described as ‘cool’, whereas Mercedes cars are ‘luxurious’. When customers stay loyal to their brands, they do it because they feel emotionally attached to them. Building an emotional link with a customer is crucial when building a strong brand. So how to build such a link?
Customer first approach
We like those people who care about us – exactly the same goes for the companies. Put your customer at a forefront of what you are doing and show them that you genuinely care about providing them the right product or service. Be willing to go an ‘extra mile’ for your customer, make sure you understand their needs and point out things that might be important for them when making decisions. Even if it means you will make less money from a particular sale, you will earn customers’ trust and loyalty.
Also, if you want to cheat, then be prepared for unpleasant consequences. Regardless of whether you are not fair towards your employees or customers, once you will be caught, the problems begin. Even if the scandal itself will attract the attention only for a short period of time, the damage to your brand image may last for years. The example of a brand which lost the trust and emotional link of a huge part of the customers is Volkswagen. The scandal associated with this brand was revealed in autumn 2015 when it turned out that the concern used a special software which allowed manipulating the results of the CO2 emission measurements. How the customer who bought VW because of its low CO2 emissions can trust the company again? If you want the customers to be loyal, don’t underestimate the significance of trust.
Show empathy and understand your customers’ emotions
When dealing with the customers you need to understand their emotions and show empathy. This is especially important when dealing with complaints. Robotic soulless customer service can annoy people and reinforce bad emotions. Showing that you possess high emotional intelligence and dealing swiftly with the complaint can build trust and lasting loyalty. Be sure to train your staff to deal with customers in an appropriate manner and you will be amazed by the results.
Have you ever had a conversation with somebody who just talked and barely listened to what you were saying? Most likely it wasn’t the best conversation you ever had and the other person did not make a very good impression either. The same goes for your company. Don’t start one marketing campaign after another without engaging with your customers. Social media is a great example here. The ability to engage in a genuine conversation with your customers is priceless. It can help you build a strong emotional link with your audience. So don’t tweet random things while ignoring your followers. Ask about their opinions, experience and be open for their pieces of advice.
I cannot list every tip and trick that exists as it would probably be a really long and boring read. So, to provide one last piece of an advice – simply act as a human. Showing a human side of your company will help you to create a lasting emotional link with your customers.
As I write this chapter there are 7,517,871,454 people on planet earth. This number is, of course, rising all the time. Why is this number important? Well, the vast majority of these more-than-7.5 billion people are going to be future consumers. They are going to purchase possessions, services, and food, basically anything there is to buy. Around a half of them are also going to operate in the world wide web system, a fancy name for the Internet. That means that they will have access to a myriad of online shops, blogs, websites etc., a lot of which will either compete with each other or share the same market. In a mostly digitalized world where competition is massive and the customer base is discerning, it is important for businesses to carve themselves a niche!
WHAT EXACTLY IS A NICHE?
Well, obviously, a niche is a recess in a wall! Jokes aside (but not too dissimilar to this definition), a niche is a specialised market targeted at a specific group of customers or businesses. For example, a vegan restaurant finds its niche catering to the culinary needs of vegans. Or, a craftsman and a weaponry enthusiast selling detailed wooden replicas of historical weaponry can find his niche targeting re-enactors looking for a cheaper option than a metal model or an original piece. The second example I mentioned is exactly what constitutes a good niche – it is extremely specific. It doesn’t even appeal to a general group of people, the re-enactors in this case. It appeals to a group within a group – the re-enactors with a smaller budget. Additionally, this business is based on the craftsman’s skill and passion for woodwork – which makes him authentic in what he does and is also a part of his appeal.
Lynda Falkenstein outlined a five-stage process of evaluating whether a niche is a good one. As she is a niche specialist, it is worth examining this in detail. A craftsman making wooden replicas needs to answer these questions to see if their business idea will work:
Does it take you where you want to go?
Taking up woodwork full time will be the perfect opportunity to do what he loves and fulfill his passion.
Does somebody else want it?
Definitely, there are a lot of re-enactors in need of a more budget version of a weapon model!
His woodwork might also appeal to a younger customer base – a sturdy wooden kid-sized model is definitely a better choice than a cheap plastic toy.
It is carefully planned?
The craftsman will need to have all the tools in place as well as a workshop space.
There will also be a need for a website and online ads in order to spread the word about the business.
Is it a one-of-a-kind type of business?
A product done by a skilled and passionate craftsman as an alternative to expensive replicas or a hard-to-get authentic item is surely a one-of-a-kind thing!
Will it grow? Are you going to grow with it? To be fair, there are always possibilities for expanding. The supply needs to meet the demand and if the customer base likes the product, there might be a need for hiring several employees or renting a larger workshop.
The craftsman will fulfill his passion for weaponry and woodwork via his business. As his company will grow, he will grow too, implementing new techniques or showcasing his product to new potential customers.
WHY DO YOU NEED A NICHE TO SURVIVE
Let’s stick with the craftsman example. He has a very specific product and a defined, narrow customer base. With his product he is able to cater to the needs of his customers perfectly. “But”, you could say, “he could be making so much more if he started doing furniture and wooden ornaments as well”! That’s a fair point to be honest, but only to some degree. Keep in mind that the craftsman is passionate about weaponry, not really about interior design. His ideal business would be just that – making wooden replicas. That’s what he will excel at. And I’m not only talking about the craft of carving wood! He will also be able to become a part of the environment, make friends with his customers based on a mutual interest. To put it simply – he will be authentic in what he does. Turning to furniture might bring him more customers, but there are several points to be considered:
- The furniture industry is surely much larger than the wooden replica industry and therefore is likely to be a lot more competitive;
- The craftsman will be doing something he is not passionate about – in the long run, that will turn his passion for woodwork into a much-hated chore and might slowly dismantle the business;
- He would be much less likely to make authentic connections with customers as the mutual passion factor would be missing.
In the end, the craftsman is much better off choosing a long-term solution over a short-term benefit. Producing furniture could be much more profitable, but would also cause a quick burnout – the craftsman would not be fulfilling his passion. Being in the industry just for the money and not for an actual interest in the field would produce a strain of uninventive and boring products, and would make the craftsman miserable in the long run. It would also be much more competitive and not authentic for the craftsman. With the production of replicas, he could not only fulfill his passion but also create an authentic connection with his customers.
Additionally, it is much easier to start off a business in a niche market. The competition in the niche is much less brutal or even sometimes non-existent. That means, it is relatively easy to become a top business in a given field – which would be followed by a strain of customers! In a highly competitive field it would be much harder or even impossible to break the ceiling without spending a small fortune on advertising and marketing practices. Think of a soft drinks industry – creating a Coca-Cola imitation would be pointless. Creating a more fancy Coca-Cola would not be as be pointless, but still very risky as there are your Fritz Colas and Mio Mio Colas. But a brand of an artisan drink made with natural juices and local ingredients sold at food truck festivals and delicatessen shops would be just right! The price for such a drink could however remain high – not only is there any competition against whom you’d have to lower your prices, but also people would be ready to pay for a product made by local people and with the use of natural ingredients. When settling for a niche, think about a product or a field that’s not there yet or about a product that you can upgrade to be an absolute game-changer!
As I said at the beginning of this chapter, there are more than 7,5 billion people on earth. Almost half of them are interconnected by the Internet. That means there are many ways of reaching a customer. The craftsman I used as an example, could find his customer base in the USA or Japan, all while being based in Germany! As he is doing what he loves to do and is operating in a very narrow field, the customers who need his product won’t have a difficult time finding him – as he’s one of the few in the industry, he will pop up in a Google search much sooner. That’s also good for the craftsman – being in a niche market will save him a lot of money and time spent on advertising and marketing just to break through the ice of much more established and bigger firms. Facebook ads are much cheaper and SEO costs are lower. So in fact, it’s a win-win!
The world is “shrinking” and that really helps niche-based businesses. Customers are ready to look for authenticity and passion. They are ready to go the extra mile to get a product with a story behind it. With the omnipresence of the Internet, searching is easy and so is getting your niche business out there!
This chapter will cover one of the toughest tasks you might face as a brand creator – coming up with a name for your business! Giving your company a great and fitting name will automatically make you stand out.
Imagine you opened a bakery.
You intend to bake bread according to your family traditions starting in the 17th Century.
The easiest way to demonstrate what you do in the business is, of course, to use the word “bakery”.
What would be Important in this case is to create a story of your business, explaining where the tradition comes from. If your family was living inside of a castle providing bread to the nearby community, you could simply call it “Castle Bakery”. Usually, the bakery is a very local business, at least at the beginning. You simply won’t be able to supply your bread to customers 200 miles from your bakery… unless you were to open another branch.
Let’s assume that it’ll be a local business. You can easily market it as “Castle Bakery” even though I am 100% sure there are “Castle Bakeries” in your country. Remember that the easiest way to create a business name is to use nouns and adjectives that reflect your business.
Don’t use words that are plain. However, be also careful with getting awkwardly constructed or purposely misspelled names. Even if there is a justification behind a misspelled name, it doesn’t mean your customer will understand it. Another advice is Try to avoid using your Town/City/Region name in your business name. It might confuse your customer if your business, with “London” in name, will has a branch in Liverpool.
Let’s start with the “simple thing”, your business name.
If you were in the banking sector, do you imagine your bank name could be: Squirrel Bank – saving your acorns for a better future?
If your name is misleading, your marketing and branding activities won’t provide good results and therefore be a total waste of time and money. Remember changing your business name – i.e rebranding – may be very expensive, so choose wisely at the outset.
Think carefully, does your business name reflect what it provides? If you are unsure, do a quick test – ask 10 random people what are their first thoughts when they hear your business name.
That’s what Uber owners did!
Although a proper business name is not the most important aspect of the whole process of your business creation, it is, however, the first, important step to branding.
I am sure that you realised yourself that some businesses don’t have names that explain their trading activity. That’s totally fine, the only disadvantage is a tougher start on the market. People prefer short catchy names that generate ideas of the business straight away.
Now, I am sure you are thinking “What about Google – it doesn’t bring business ideas at all”.
Yes, it doesn’t express the business personality, but the reason is simple. In the 20th Century, (1998) business naming wasn’t that important. Even earlier it was very trendy to name businesses with the second name of the owner – Goldman Sachs, Stanley, J P Morgan, etc.
In the past, there was not such a big competition for small and medium players on the market. The biggest competitors were located within 10 miles from you. A 10 miles radius is what most of the small business was focused on – the local area.
Consequently, there was no branding as such.
Small and medium business density is now bigger than ever! That’s why the ways we create and run businesses is also different.
The main reason why it is different is due to the Internet. We have the technology, social media, Facebook, Google, Instagram and many others. Almost everybody in this world has access to the global database called the Internet. We do things differently. To sell, you cannot just offer a good product – there are tonnes of businesses selling the same items. You need to be unique and provide something beyond your services and products – an added value.
It has never been easier to start a business than now. That’s why branding increases its importance. You have to become unique in some way to sell and find your place among millions of businesses, so start with your business name.
In the 21st Century branding will be evolving much faster. We will see more trends every single year that will be changing our approach to sales, marketing and the running of businesses themselves.
To start the process of business naming, firstly, take a pen and a piece of paper and write down all the services or categories of products you sell. If you provide a wide range of products and services that are not really related, you will have to use a wider spectrum of nouns and adjectives to describe your business.
Let’s analyse an example which will illustrate the whole path you should take:
What is your business doing? Write down all the business services/products
business grows beyond the area you include your name.
Write down all the words that come to your mind with regards to the services you provide.
For instance, a hairdresser is associated with the following words:
hair, salon, chair, look, beautiful, haircut, scissors, kindness, chatting, gossips etc.
From this written collection choose 5-8 words that really reflect your business.
Try to mix them and create a business name out of those words. Don’t use more than 3 of them.
You can now try to make it shorter, for instance, by mixing two words into one or adding an ending like “ing”, “ly” “la” etc.
Ask as many people as you can:
“What do you think of when you hear XXXX”
The first impression is the most important one. Write them down, then analyse your ideas. Determine which one brought people the closest to your business thoughts.
Choose three variations you like most and check each of on the Internet. Remember that you should try to be unique. If it’s a local business you don’t need to be that concerned about other companies with similar names that are located 200 miles from you. But if you find any that are relatively close to you, consider choosing a different configuration of your business name.
To check it, simply write your business name in Google and see what you get.
Once you are happy with the results, go to any website that sells domain names, like ovh.com and check your business name availability in domain names, start with .com (yourbusinessname.com) if you want to operate globally. You can use your country domain name if you want to operate nationally (yourbusinessname.co.uk). Or even local domain names (yourbusinessname.london)
Business names have the following functions:
It helps to recognise a business,
It allows an understanding of what a business does – from the first impression.
The main benefit of a good business name is that it will not only provide a clear first impression and understanding of your company, but it will also be easy to remember.
For many of us, what we wear every day is very important For instance, a guy wearing an elegant suit might be seen as a businessman. Remember that people judge in seconds and this is why you should “put the right clothes” on your business.
Each of us (humans) has some kind of identity. It helps us to define ourselves, understand who we are and what we represent. For example, a national identity helps people define themselves as citizens of a particular country. Following the Oxford dictionary, its definition describes identity as ‘the characteristics determining who or what a person or thing is’. The same goes for the brand identity. It helps companies define their brands.
What does it include?
People can demonstrate their identity in numerous ways – the way they look, behave or talk is often shaped by this aspect.
The same is true for a brand. Its identity should be incorporated in many contexts including the way that brands advertise their products, the way they engage with customers and the way their offices look.
Brand identity defines the products and shapes the personality of the brand.
Building brand identity
To build an identity, a company needs to be ‘self-conscious’ about the products offered. It needs to know its strengths and weaknesses and know where it stands in the market.
Reflecting the mission, vision and values of the brand is an important part of building its identity, however, this process goes further than just defining a company’s goals and values. A strong identity needs to be consistent and well communicated to the customers. Every aspect of the brand should be shaped by what your company is as a whole. From product design and marketing to customer service, the identity needs to be visible.
Why is this important?
Don’t neglect the significance of the brand identity. It may not be a very complicated term, but it is a very important one. Brand identity allows customers to understand what a particular brand stands for, what it represents and what it wants to achieve. Thanks to this term, customers know what to expect when buying products. Companies build their brands’ identity because it creates loyalty. Do you remember the chapter about building an emotional link?
Building such links would not be possible without the brand identity as customers would not feel attached to the products.
Just like in the case of brand identity, you should think of corporate identity as the core characteristic that gives personality to a particular corporation. The difference in definition between the two provided terms is quite clear: while a brand identity is about the brand itself, a corporate identity is about the firm (as the whole organisations). Nevertheless, the confusion may occur when the two are overlapping which, indeed, may happen. If you sell just one product – corporate and brand identities are mostly one and the same. Large corporations however, often have more than just one brand.
To provide an example, think of the Volkswagen group. Porsche, Skoda, Audi, Seat or Volkswagen all belong to the same corporation, yet each brand has a different identity. Volkswagen markets itself as ‘Das Auto’ (The Car), Skoda as ‘Simply Clever’ and Audi offers ‘Lead through technology’. The Volkswagen group purposely differentiates the branding of its cars because each brand appeals to different target customers. Therefore you can say that each brand has a different identity but at the same time the Volkswagen group as a whole also has its separate corporate identity. As it claims on its own website “The Group’s goal is to offer attractive, safe and environmentally sound vehicles which can compete in an increasingly tough market and set world standards in their respective class”.
Note that there is no contradiction between corporate and brand identity. The former simply underpins the latter as e.g. a ‘simply clever’ Skoda can also be safe and environmentally friendly.
The difference, however, is not always that easy to tell. Sometimes the corporations will try to do the opposite of Volkswagen, and purposely retain almost a single identity for their respective brands and corporation as a whole. For example, Coca-Cola recently launched a ‘one brand’ strategy that aims to build on the popularity of the classic ‘Coke’ to increase the sales of other products like Coca-Cola Life or Coca-Cola Zero. As you can see, brand and corporate identity are closely related terms and sometimes it might be difficult to tell the difference. Hopefully, the examples we provided will make it easier for you to understand the differences between those two notions.
In this chapter, we will cover the importance of coming up with your mission, vision and values. Determining what do you want to achieve and how are you planning to do it will allow your customers to differentiate your business from others.
When reading about branding you’ve probably seen words like ‘mission’ ‘vision’ and ‘values’ repeated over and over. These lofty sounding terms might put off certain people who will assume that it doesn’t really matter for them or their business. The truth is – they matter a lot and no matter how big or small your business is, you need to spend some time thinking about them. It should be a logical piece of your business. Why are those terms so important in branding and does your company really need them?
I already defined branding as creating an ‘image of the company’ your customers would believe in. To create such an image, you need to define your business. Mission, vision, values but also corporate social responsibility, known also as a manifesto are the building blocks – together they make up the definition of who you are and what you aim for. The first three consist of the descriptive elements of your business and what you do and want to do. Those three are a must-have even for the smallest of businesses. It’s more important for business owners than for customers themselves it is kind of a roadmap that shows how the business will achieve its long-term goals. Corporate Social Responsibility/ Manifesto is not really relevant for small businesses but it might be helpful.
A clearly defined vision – how would you like your business to develop, what should it become in the future? Would you like to become a CEO of a large corporation employing hundreds of people? Maybe you imagine your business influencing the world? Or you simply want to create the best coffee shop in town? The vision describes an ideal dream scenario for you and your company. Defining your vision will help you make decisions, motivate you to achieve the goals and inspire your employees.
What do you believe in? What are your values in your own work? Is it the high quality of the products or is it the special relationship that you build with the customers? Whatever your values are, you need to spell them out very clearly. Each of your customers and employees should know your values and the company should always stay true to them. Remember that if there are no actions behind the words, then people will quickly notice that your values are hollow.
Why does your company exist? What do you want to provide to your customers? What should the customers expect when they do business with you? When you define your mission, you show people that you are passionate about what you are doing and that you don’t work just for money.
You cannot create a good brand when your customers don’t feel that you are somehow special or unique. By defining your mission, vision and values, you define your brand and make it more personal. If you stay true to your own goals and values, your customers will trust you. The company will become unique and the customers loyal.
Corporate social responsibility/ Manifesto
It describes what business will do for their environment, community or employees. Most mid-size enterprises create their manifestos to present to the community and stakeholders that the business is something more than a profit-making machine. Business owners want to show to people that they want to make a positive impact on what’s around them. There are plenty of examples, just look at Google.
Mission, Vision, Values – a Summary
The vision describes where you see your company in the future. To develop a vision ask yourself what do you want to achieve in the long run? The mission is the way that allows you to achieve the designated vision. Finally, values are associated with the rules and beliefs that create the fundamentals of a corporation’ss ethics. They cannot be broken during the realisation of the mission.
Do you need an example? Imagine that you are the founder of the company which specialises in producing customised shoes, made only on demand. The vision would probably be to become a worldwide leader in innovative design, quality of products and achieving a number of happy customers within the industry. The mission would be to deliver customised, handcrafted shoes always within a given timeframe. Only by the realisation of this mission are you able to achieve your final goal defined in the vision. The values may include paying fair wages to the employees, treating customers with respect and caring about environmental issues. The more accurate and relevant are the statements of mission, vision, and values, the greater the chances are that you will create a successful brand.
A tagline or a slogan is a short sentence that describes your business. In this chapter you will learn how to come up with one for yourself and why it is important.
It takes between three to five seconds to judge your website and decide whether to keep browsing or close it down. We suggested some tips that might help you ensure your website appeals to visitors. One of the key points is to ensure that it is immediately obvious for visitors to understand what it is that you offer. Although it seems straightforward, in reality, it might not be easy to describe it in five seconds. That is one of the reasons your business needs an effective tagline or slogan.
How to come up with a good tagline?
More than likely you know hundreds of reasons why someone should choose to do business with you. Coming up with a couple of words that will convey them all is a real struggle. Large corporations can afford to hire a whole team of marketing specialists to do it for them, small and medium business owners often face doing this on their own. It doesn’t mean that their taglines can’t be equally as good. There are a few simple tips that should help you come up with an effective tagline.
What is your mission?
Start by thinking about your business. It might be worth going back to your mission statement. If you haven’t got one yet you might want to come up with one as it will be hugely beneficial. Click here to read a piece on mission statements.Reminding yourself about the essence of your business and the reason your company exists is often a good starting point.
A good tagline should also highlight what is unique about your company and what differentiates it from the competitors. Ideally, you want to tell customers not only what it is that you are offering, but why they should choose to do business with you and not with your competitors.
You will only have seconds to grab your customers’ attention. Your goal should be to come up with a memorable tagline that will stick with the customer the first time they see it. There are plenty of examples around the web that you can use to draw inspiration. One of the more interesting ones we recently spotted comes from a medium-sized courier company. Their slogan was ‘Couriers who care’. In this case, three words is enough to describe what services they offer and what makes them different.
To the point
An effective tagline needs to be clear and to the point. If you’ve come up with something that is unique, memorable and to the point, that is great. However, if you are struggling to come up with something catchy, then don’t try to overdo it. Sometimes it is better to stay with a simple slogan like ‘Best Pizza in Town’. It might not be the most inspiring and memorable, but it is to the point. It is going to work better than a slogan that tells little about the business.