Having a strong, engaging brand will make your new business stand out and will help you attract and retain customers. Branding is just as important to small companies and start-ups as it is to large, corporate businesses.

What exactly is a brand?

A brand is very important and is more than just a business name, logo, typeface or choice of colours. Branding is about the experience potential customers have when they engage with your business and their perception of your company when they leave.

Your brand is your promise to customers.

It tells them what they can expect from your products and services. Branding helps customers to choose when making their buying decisions, people want a brand they can trust. It’s what you stand for and why people should buy from you and not one of your competitors, this is why it needs to be different and stand out.

Why are brands successful?

If you think about well-liked brands, what do they stand for and what’s their promise? You should check out what other companies are doing to identify businesses with successful brand identities and think about why they appeal.

Successful brands can connect with customers on another level.

Tip: Look at how their choice of colours, imagery, typefaces, etc evoke their values

You should also go online to businesses with poor brands and see where their branding falls short. You can learn from successful brands and avoid the mistakes of others.

After this, you should evaluate back on your brand:

  • What are your core values?
  • What promises do you make to customers?
  • What is your unique selling proposition?
  • What’s your place in the market and which customers are you targeting?
  • What are your key messages?
  • How can your brand values be communicated visually?

Your business name has important brand implications too, so choose carefully. Write down your Ideas and make sure to keep things simple, because successful brands can be summarised in only a few words.

How to create a brand identity

The first thing you need to remember and not do is to avoid copying or ripping off other brands. It makes you look foolish and customers will think you lack your own identity and ideas. Your brand should be genuine for your business, as well as professional and engaging. Customers prefer original, independent brands for example small businesses with their own personality and an engaging story to tell.

Even though you have to limit your start-up costs, you can pay a graphic designer or affordable branding specialist to create your brand identity. To save money, you could do it yourself, but if you lack knowledge or aren’t very creative it might not be the best option. A bad branding launch could put off potential customers forever. You should test your branding before launch; do market research and ask potential customers for feedback and update your brand.

Your branding should impress.

Your brand identity should show your business and its values. Look at how it will be seen in every environment in which it will be used. Make it simple, less is more, so limit your colour and typeface choices.

A startup, no matter how well-funded, will feel short of resources. Businesses should focus all its branding energy and resources on building up a single brand. Try not to create separate brand identities for the company and for each of its products.  Multiple brands will complicate your energy and resources, and confuse customers.

Tip: Get your domain name quick! As you’re considering alternative names, make sure you can get your domain.  Check out our domain name registration to see if it’s available.

When choosing a brand name you need to make a fundamental choice out of three:

  • The first is to select a name that’s descriptive of what you do – think WebMD, The Home Depot, 1-800-flowers, or Urban Outfitters.
  • The second is to choose a name that says nothing about what you do, but is evocative. Evocative names employ suggestion and metaphor to bring to mind the experience or positioning of a brand. They are singular and creative, and make for powerful differentiators. For example brands like Yahoo!, Virgin or Apple.
  • The third is to select a memorable, unique nonsense word. Examples of such whimsical, unique brand names include Google, Hotmail, Coca-Cola, Canon or Volkswagen.

Applying your brand consistently

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials (all should integrate your logo) communicate your brand. Your brand should be used consistently – from customer call handling, social media posts and staff appearance to signage, stationery and website, etc. Your customer experience should mirror your brand promises. For example, there’s no point having reliability as a core brand value if you don’t answer customer enquiries promptly.

Consistency underpins all successful brands.

Never compromise, live your brand values every day and safeguard your brand identity. Customers must be able to quickly distinguish your business and understand what it stands for. If you have employees, make sure they realise the importance of branding (provide training where necessary).

Social media and branding

When you’re using social media, you should be up to date in the recent trends and conversation. For visual branding, it’s important to find the appropriate content for your audience on each platform. For example, Pinterest appeals to advice, DIY, and helpful tips and tricks. In turn the images you post on Pinterest should be in some way related to your audience. You will want them to pin it for increased exposure, but you also want them to click through to your site.

Facebook and Google+ is all about community. You should use these platforms to start conversations with your audience, and Gage interests to further develop your brand.

On Twitter, short bursts of commentary, shameless self-promotion, and catchy imagery is fundamental and Instagram is great for imagery and self-promotion too.

Established brands:

Companies use social media to become of a ‘human’ to followers and customers. Customers who use social media do not just want a company to share their products anymore they want see their views behind topics and want a response when they ask a question. Recognised enterprise’s social media strategies:

Domino’s

When you think of the brands that like to fail fast with new digital technology, Domino’s is certainly way out ahead in the fast food market, constantly innovating its mobile experience.

And that ethos extends to social, where the brand’s innovations have included tweet-to-order and the recently introduced ‘DOM The Pizza Bot’, an irreverent little Messenger bot that lets customers order their usual with a couple of clicks in their favourite chat app.

Domino’s social approach is well-integrated – the brand’s Pizza Legends campaign allows people to visit the website, create their own ultimate pizza design, then name it and share it on social media.

L’Oreal

Now there is the expensive social campaigns, let’s look at a powerful internal use of social media.

L’Oreal encourages its staff to use the hashtag #lifeatloreal to showcase the culture of the organisation. It is to help with recruitment but also retention, by putting all the perks of the job front and centre. This is a simple tactic, and one that other brands have adopted, too.

Cheers to the weekend! 🍾 #lifeatloreal #officeviews

Posted by L'Oréal USA on Friday, 16 December 2016

Nike

Nike has an inspirational Instagram account that really catches the eye. There are numerous great videos, that showcase Nike’s athletes and the dedication needed to succeed.

KLM

The most recognised social CRM experts in all of B2C marketing. The airline understands that customers want to be served in the channel they are using, not directed elsewhere. Recent innovations include Messenger integration, one of the first brands to think about bot strategy.

KLM’s social customer care famously started in the wake of the 2010 Icelandic ash cloud, when many flights were grounded. Response time is regularly the best in the industry and in late 2014, Karlijn Vogel-Meijer told the Festival of Marketing that last click attribution showed $25m had been generated from social media. Furthermore, customers have been able to pay via social media since early 2014. All in all, a committed and innovative brand on social.

Paddy Power

Now this is one to keep your eye on, on social media for it’s risky and humorous content. Whilst many gambling brands take an irreverent tone, Paddy Power is arguably the best at it, and the most risqué. Paddy’s posts range from the puerile to the outrageous, but guess what – they get shared a lot.