4 Ways To Make Sure You're Building a Brand, Not Just a Business
Once upon a time it was possible to run a successful business that lacked a significant brand identity. It was difficult, sure, but it could be done through a combination of the right location and key working relationships built through personal contact. After all, a brand isn't strictly necessary if your store is impossible to miss or you simply never need to leave a hyper-niche market.
But that was a long while ago, and things have changed hugely since then. Now that operations of all kinds have moved online, location has become immaterial in most cases -- well, physical location at least, with search rankings now being all-important. And it's extremely difficult for any company to succeed from the shadows: business relationships are now formed through the social media world in more cases than not.
Are you running a growing company and eager to make it as good as it can be? If so, you're in the right place. This post will cover four things you should do to ensure that you're building a meaningful brand instead of a bland organization that won't be noticed. Let's begin.
Create some comprehensive brand guidelines
The biggest part of running a brand is repeatedly reinforcing the fundamental brand elements -- and you can't do that if you don't have any such brand elements. This is why the first thing you need to do is create a set of brand guidelines to inform all your subsequent content. These guidelines should encompass elements such as your logo, your color palette, your fonts, and even the tone of voice you intend to maintain.
When you're engaging in content marketing, whether you're writing a blog post or producing a marketing brochure, you should return to those guidelines and ensure that your work is adhering to them. This is particularly useful when you outsource a particular task because you can simply provide the freelancer with the guidelines and feel confident that they'll produce something suitable.
Put some serious work into website optimization
These days it's very common for companies to create websites that seem reasonably generic. This is because they use the same website platforms for the sake of convenience. Ecommerce suffers from this more than any other industry because functionality and responsiveness are absolutely vital for companies that rely on fast conversions. Store owners like to use systems that they can trust and lean on pre-made themes that don't take much work.
That makes it key that you build a custom site that truly reflects your brand. If you choose an open-source system like WordPress (or a retail-targeted option if you're running a store, with Prestashop being a good option), you can get highly granular about the website you build, ensuring that it neatly reflects your branding and sets an excellent first impression.
Hone your value proposition until it's unique
What does your company do that should interest people? In other words, what do you bring to the table? If you sell furniture, then your value proposition could be very simple: you offer furniture in return for money. Straightforward, but extremely boring. You can -- and should -- do better. A good brand has something unique about it (Unbounce has a good piece on this).
One option would be to focus on a specific type of furniture. You could reshape your value proposition as offering tables in return for money. But not just any tables: high-quality tables. But high-quality in what way? Maybe they could be hard-wearing tables -- hard-wearing outdoor tables. The more you dig down, the more interesting your brand becomes. You don't need to go that niche, but think carefully about how far you can take it.
Identify and follow a central mission statement
Lastly, you need a mission statement that goes beyond profit motives and value propositions. What do you want to achieve through your business that isn't about money? There must be something. Maybe you want to improve your industry, or contribute to charity, or form a strong community. Whatever it is, form it into a mission statement.
If you can keep following that mission statement, the company will always have a heart, and you'll be able to show prospective customers that you're worthy of their support. So think about what cause you want to rally your employees behind, and go for it!
Wrapping up, building a brand doesn't need to be intimidating. If you can follow the suggestions we've set out here, you can set up the foundation of a strong brand. Everything after that is up to you.