Here’s a rhetorical question for agencies everywhere.
How can I build a powerful brand, one that will grow and evolve with my business? A brand is not a logo. A brand comes from within. It’s the core of your idea, of what you sell, of what you do.
A brand is not done by the designer that will work on your logo or by a magnificent marketing campaign you spend a lot of money on. Yes, a fantastic logo and a decent budget for campaigns will definitely help you along the way, but a strong brand stays put through sunny and stormy weather. It’s your biggest asset, by far.
Here’s some Happy tips on building a strong brand:
When you start your business, think about why you are doing it. Usually, if you start it yourself, it will be all about something you are probably passionate about. This is your feeling about the business. And this is what the brand will have to tell the outside world. You will have to do some soul searching to get to the core of what you do and why you do it, get a good agency/designer on board and tell them the results of what your true intentions are with this business. They will interpret it and will create a way to represent visually what you do to your audience. Your brand needs to represent your mission, your vision, your goals and your values. Identifying these is probably the biggest and most important exercise you will do, and the results will carry you through the good and the bad times.
Be the human behind the brand
People like to know who is behind a strong brand. It’s probably a strong person or a group of people. And strong people are admired. Show yourself. Don’t just be a silent partner. Get involved, engage, have a view on things, let people know that your brand is made by people and for people and, therefore, is human. Real people engage with real people. Engagement creates connection. Connection creates (a sometimes emotional) attachment. And then you have brand followers. But make sure to pick your battles. You don’t need to have an opinion on everything. Align what you express to what your core values are, and there will be no mistakes (see how point number one is so important?).
Let your customer have the best experience they can possibly have. Every time. If you concentrate your efforts in keeping your customers happy, word of mouth will take care of things and no-one can deny how powerful that is. Reviews are everywhere nowadays. And yes, people do take time to write them, especially if they are not too good ones. Pay attention to what your customer is telling you. Respect a bad review, learn from it. A good brand and the people behind it know when they make a mistake and they take ownership of that. Your customer is your brand ambassador, and the more of those you can have (and the happier they are), the more successful your brand will be.
Even someone that doesn’t have an eye for design knows what looks good and what doesn’t. It’s instinct. If your logo on a letterhead is touching the borders of the paper, it won’t look good. If the colour of your brand online is different to the logo on your carrier bags, it will confuse people. If your website looks nothing like your shop’s look and feel, people will wonder if it’s part of the same brand. I know, I’m an Account Manager who proof reads and yes, I’m slightly obsessed with branding guidelines. But this is because they are important! Brand guidelines are not a luxury. They show respect for your brand. They help the use of it, be it by yourself or by third parties. Brand guidelines make sure your brand is shown to the outside world always in the same way.
Become something else
We all know Coca Cola. We all know Google. We all know David Beckham. They are all brands that have evolved with the times. My point is that a brand cannot stay the same. You are only going to know what your brand needs to become if you pay attention. A new direction can then be reflected in many aspects of your brand: in the way you provide your service, in the way you build your product, in the way that you help your customers buy online, in the way your brand is represented visually. The important thing, though, is that you never forget number one. The core of it all. The big idea. The reason why it all started. Because that fire in your belly that made you start it all is what a brand is. And this essence needs to always remain.
Marilia Spindler is an Account Manager and creative thinker at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk.