A new business offers a clean slate, and you can create any image for your company you’d like. However, it isn’t always easy building a brand that stays in the minds of consumers. There are many different techniques for making your enterprise more recognizable, but not all work as well as others.
Businesses with consistent branding efforts earn about 23 percent more than brands without. It should be similar across both online and offline channels. Your company has the same tone and look on the website, social media, storefront signage and events you attend. Investing in the recognizability of your brand might not pay off immediately, but ultimately offers big results.
When you’re just getting started with branding, it’s hard to know the best tactics and where to spend time and money. Fortunately, we’ve sifted through some of our best advice and come up with 10 tips to help new businesses succeed.
1. Figure Out Your Target Audience
Before you opened your store, you likely had an idea of who your typical customer might be. However, after your grand opening, you might find your average buyer is quite different than you thought. Look at internal data on those who purchase from you and figure out who your target audience really is. You should also study buyers on social media. What groups do they follow? What are their interests? In addition, check out the typical keywords people are searching for related to your industry.
2. Know What You Stand For
Every company has a mission. Yours might be simply to bring a great product to people’s lives, or it might be deeper than that. Think about brands such as TOMS and how it also has a mission to donate shoes to needy kids around the world. If you can find a cause that ties into what you’re doing and for which you feel passion, then you’ve tapped into something you can utilize in your branding efforts.
3. Discover Your Personality
Spend time thinking about what your brand personality is. If your target audience is Generation Z, you might have a fun, youthful vibe. On the other hand, if you offer financial services to senior citizens, you might choose a more serious, studious approach. There isn’t a right or wrong answer about your personality type as a business — there is just who you are and who your customers relate to.
4. Set a Branding Schedule
Around 76 percent of people say stress at work impacts their personal lives. Figuring out how to brand a new business qualifies as a big stressor, but creating a schedule helps lessen the burden. Knowing when each phase of your marketing campaign is deployed takes away last-minute decisions and gives you a plan moving forward.
5. Choose a Color Palette
No matter where your brand goes, you should have a color palette that consumers associate with your name. Companies such as Shell, Domino’s Pizza and Coca-Cola use specific hues over and over until consumers expect to see those shades in any interaction with the brand. Your palette should be instantly recognizable. When a user lands on your page and sees your signature hues, they should immediately recognize the combination as belonging to your company.
6. Get the Word Out
Creating the most amazing consistency and image isn’t very helpful if no one sees it. Not only do you have to create a strong brand image, but you must also get the word out and share your branding campaigns with others. You’ve already thought through the image you’d like to portray, so now you just have to get that vision in front of other people.
7. Figure Out Your Brand’s Benefits
The consumer doesn’t care as much about how you see your business as how it can help them. Think about big marketing campaigns that stick in your mind. McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” focuses on memories and food people love. Burger King’s “My Way” touts how diners can order food the way they like it. In both of those instances, the focus is on what the brand offers the consumer.
Figure out your unique value proposition (UVP) so you can show users how you solve their problems or make their lives better. Once you tap into UVP with your branding, consumers are much more likely to convert into customers.
8. Create a Memorable Logo
Your logo has to offer a lot in as little space as possible. Its shape must define who you are as a company, but it also needs to incorporate your brand colors. Some of the simplest logos are also the most memorable because they tie into the brand’s overall image. Nike’s swoosh reminds one of motion and ties into its sports-themed branding. Red Lobster features its namesake on signs and reinforces the restaurant’s name.
Sometimes the logo is obvious because of your company name, but sometimes you’ll need to dig a bit deeper into industry symbols and the way consumers see your business.
9. Create a Branding Guide
No matter what type of marketing you do, at some point, you’ll use photos and images in your efforts to get the word out. Spend time creating a strong branding guide that lays out the size and style of photos, what font should be used and where, and other details. The more detailed your guide, the more consistent your brand image.
10. Find a Tagline
Figure out a tagline for your brand that further defines who you are and what you do. It’s typically just a few words, but packs a lot of punch. Think about some of the taglines of famous brands, such as Dunkin’ Donuts — “America Runs on Duncan” — or L’Oreal — “Because You’re Worth It.”
Start by studying what your competitors focus on. While you want to differentiate yourself, you can also learn what your target audience cares about by studying the taglines of other companies like yours. Next, spend time brainstorming. Write down words as they come to mind, and then play around with different combinations until you find the phrase that works best for your company. Finally, test different options and see what your current customer base likes best so you can reach similar people with the phrase you settle on.
Building a brand image isn’t something you do once and then forget. From the day you open your new business going forward, you’ll work on defining who you are in the eyes of your customers. Refine your message as you go along and try different branding strategies. Keep the elements that work and lose the ones that don’t. Over time, your brand image will grow along with your business until the two are intertwined.
Lexie is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys copious amounts of coffee (with a dash of milk) and walking her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.