From Nice Logo to Strong Brand
When you start your company, branding is always one of the first things that you work with, even when not doing so consciously. The first branding of the company happens the moment you decide on a company name, get your first logo made or decide what typography to use for the company name.
The branding of the company continues all by itself, even if you are not actively trying to brand your business. You will always be the brand that the customers perceive, whether or not you try to influence their perception. So, how can you change your brand, as a new and entrepreneurial startup company, to that of a professional and attractive supplier of products or services in the market?
Branding or marketing?
Branding is not the same as marketing although there are some overlaps. Marketing is about how to spread the knowledge of the company and its brand, while branding is about defining what to spread. Like the branding of cattle, branding your company is more about defining what the company stands for and how it - so to speak - can be recognized among all the other cows on the prairie.
When it comes to branding, some entrepreneurs might feel that their company is “too small to work with branding”, and that they “can’t afford that type of thing.” But branding is not about big budgets and television commercials. Rather, it is about the small details that the customers experience every time they come in contact with the company. As an entrepreneur you might find yourself up against competitors who are better known than you are. As such, it is your duty to create an authentic and credible brand for your company.
Many paths to the strong brand
Creating a strong brand is not only about having a nice logo, even if it begins there. Creating a strong brand is like solving a puzzle that has many different pieces: You have to consider the
• Visual identity
• Voice identity
• Physical identity and
• Attitude identity
The visual identity is everything from company logo to all the various elements in the graphic design profile of the company, including colors, typographies and the types of photos or illustrations to be used to express what the company stands for. The type of media that the company chooses to market itself through says a lot about who the company is, as well. Do you use ads in traditional media, podcasts or poster campaigns?
The voice identity is a continuation of the visual identity. Sometimes, it is called tone of voice and it is about the words that you use and the way that you express yourself, e.g. in brochures and on your website. Are you the conservative, experienced company or the young and alternative company? And what is the general key message in your slogan or headlines? The voice identity includes the names you give your products. Are they technical names, or are the names similar to the company name; do you use English or foreign names?
The physical identity of the company is also part of creating the brand as a whole. Physical Identity deals with how your products are designed and packaged, but also includes you and your employees’ physical appearance and attire. Your office location is part of your physical identity. How is your office decorated? What is on the walls?
Finally, the fourth piece in creating a strong brand is the attitude identity of the company. Although not necessarily more important than the other pieces, this piece should be the first piece that you set in place when solving the company branding puzzle. The values that you define within your company are the very ones to manifest in the visual, physical and voice identity to make the brand image completely clear. Defining your social values, professional values, cultural values and other values that guide your behaviors and decision making and approach to the market are critical.
Focus on your brand, not just your logo. When you have a good reputation and the customers have a clear vision of what they are buying and who they buying from, they are more attracted to your products and your company. Clarify your company’s values and decide what you want it to be known for. Make a list of activities that will make your brand spread through the company (and the market) consistently. Do things in the everyday life that prove that you are your brand.
Patrick E Alcorn, Director, Veterans Business Outreach Center University of Texas Arlington.
Excerpted from © GrowthWheel International Inc. and David Madié.
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