Social media, email, sidebar ads, direct mail—there are so many ways to reach a customer. With this explosion of options comes the need to promote your business across all these markets.
In many cases, attempting to reach many different markets can lead to an identity struggle—especially if you take a different approach with each medium—but it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s where branding comes in. Let’s remember this forgotten art with the team at Stream Companies.
Branding vs Advertising
Branding is your company’s identity. It should guide the messaging you include in your advertising and help you stay relevant. It’s about awareness and an overall long-term message for your company. Your brand is the answer to the questions:
What do I want my business to convey to consumers? What story do I want to tell?
Branding is not necessarily something that’s easily quantifiable the way a marketing campaign is—there are no return on investment (ROI) numbers like there might be for an advertising budget.
It may be for this reason that advertising has surged ahead of branding over the last few years. This is simply the task of getting your name and product out there to increase awareness of it. Advertising can promote the brand and the products you offer but is not the brand itself.
How Can a Business Identify and Define Their Brand?
Any business can find and develop its own brand identity. It just takes time and collaboration. You may also want to turn to branding experts who have done this before, like the team at Stream Companies.
To begin identifying your business’s brand, follow a few simple steps.
Define Your USPs
The first thing to consider is what differentiates your business from the others currently in the marketplace. Consider what your business has to offer. Are there any unique selling propositions (USPs) that make your business stand out against competitors?
Your USPs define the benefits the customer gains by choosing you over your competitors. USPs should provide tangible value for your customer. If anyone can say they’re offering this product or service, it’s not a USP.
For example, a coffee shop may offer free wi-fi. Is that something worth advertising? Many coffee shops offer free wi-fi. Customers can even use their mobile phones to generate a hot spot, if needed. Free wi-fi is not particularly unique or valuable for the customer.
To identify your USPs, ask yourself:
- What are customers responding well to?
- What do you love that we do already that you feel customers should know more about?
In fact, you can even ask your customers. Offer surveys or other ways to collect this information. Your business likely already has valuable attributes. In addition to your customers, ask these questions to your staff, including receptionists, office workers, salespeople, and anyone who interacts with customers.
Start Inside the Business
Branding is more than external messaging. Branding should feel authentic to your company and the experience you want to provide for your customer. The best way to do that is to begin within your own company and its culture.
Is your business living the culture that your brand has created and put out into the world in advertising? Your team should be able to follow and meet the expectations created by your brand when interacting with customers and with each other.
The Three Cs of Branding
Internally and externally, your brand should follow the three C’s: Consistency, Commitment, and Credibility.
Color schemes, designs, and even fonts are all part of creating a consistent message, both internally and externally. Is there a specific tonality you’d like your brand to have when it comes to copy? This is information that your own marketing team and an advertising agency would need to create an excellent ad for you.
This information should be written down in a document that’s easily accessible and can be referred to when needed. Creating brand guidelines can help you do that. Brand guidelines act as guard rails that keep your business’s copy, videos, art, advertising, and website design in line. Looking back at these guidelines can ensure your campaign represents your brand appropriately.
You want your brand to stick in a customer’s mind. Consistent messages help make that happen.
Commitment and consistency go hand in hand. This is true whether you’re creating a brand from scratch or if you’re revitalizing your current brand. This requires a consistent tone and voice across all mediums. It can take time to perfect this, but that’s where the commitment portion comes in.
For example, if customers are researching several brands to choose which they’d like to buy from, a brand that offers consistent messaging across its platforms will likely appear more trustworthy, credible, and memorable.
Creditability helps cut through the noise and dilution that happens when you’re competing with other businesses on social media, in the mail, and on the radio. A business with a solid brand identity builds more credibility with a customer.
With so many places asking for customer information, even for something in return, customers have become hesitant to give out information about themselves. Identity theft also plays a role in making customers reluctant to give out information.
A business that shows consistent messaging focused on USPs is more likely to earn a customer’s trust. That perceived credibility can even grow into customer loyalty. Your brand’s messaging can help continue to offer a lifetime of value for that particular customer.
Building credibility takes time and patience. You’ll need to commit and be consistent with your brand in order to establish credibility. You can’t have one C without the other two.
Have Brand Ambassadors
Every business can benefit from brand ambassadors. You don’t have to hire them but can create them through loyal customers, community members, and a consistent brand. Good branding looks beyond just creating a transactional experience for the customer.
Going above and beyond for your customers and providing a good customer experience is an excellent way to gain a brand ambassador. The customer believes in and trusts your business. The customer who does that is more likely to recommend your company to others.
Finding Brand Ambassadors Within
Brand ambassadors are often happy customers. However, they can be your own employees. Internal brand ambassadors are just as important and, in some ways, more important.
A strong brand identity and culture allows your workers to feed off that energy. They make it part of who they are, too. Strong brands can also attract strong talent. People who love their workplace and embody their workplace’s brand are individuals who share that information with others. It’s another form of advertising.
With this in mind, employee retention is key to successful internal brand ambassadors. A great workplace culture makes for happy employees. Happy employees stay longer and remain brand ambassadors for your company. They may even suggest your business to friends looking for a product you offer or a place to work.
Branding and Creativity Can Be a Great Equalizer
Not every business will have a large marketing budget, and not every business needs it. Strong, consistent branding and creativity from your marketing department often act as an equalizer in terms of advertising.
When you’re working on your advertisements, take time to ensure that they’re consistent with the brand guidelines you’ve created. Do they highlight your USPs? Are the colors or fonts correct? Are we giving the customer a sense of who we are and what we can offer them?
Amazon, for example, is well-known for its iconic packaging. When you purchase an item from Amazon, you know what the packaging looks like and even when you’ll get it. The convenience of one or two-day delivery is a huge selling point that’s built into their brand. People trust that a package will arrive on time when they order from Amazon.
Try Touchpoint Mapping
One exercise to complete when branding your business is called Touchpoint Mapping. You and your team should map out the touchpoints your company engaged with in the external world, from customers to recruitment of employees. Each touchpoint should follow the brand guidelines you create, including touchpoints that start externally (like the hiring of an employee) and move internally once that person becomes part of the company.
Don’t forget: your employees are also your customers. The way they interact with your brand matters too. You want their touchpoints to be consistent with your brand, ensuring they can emulate that brand and maybe even be loyal customers.
Build your Brand with Stream
Whether your company has an established brand identity or is currently working towards a committed, consistent, and credible brand, Stream Companies can help you get your message out there. As an integrated agency, we can adapt the tone of your brand to create advertising that grabs attention and fosters trust.
Contact us to schedule a consultation today!