How to build a successful brand
Not long ago, I heard a client say “now that we have a brand, we should do X.” What this client didn’t understand (along with many others, I’m sure) is that every business has a brand. Even if you’ve never had an ad agency provide branding services, you have a brand. After all, a brand is simply how your customers and prospects see you in relation to your competitors. Everything you have done since the inception of your business has built your current brand. How your phone is answered, what kind of service you provide, and yes, even your logo are all parts of your brand. The question is, is your brand as strong as it can be?
To develop a truly unique, successful brand requires the commitment of your entire company. Apple didn’t become known for being a technology leader by having a cool logo and nicely designed ads. They are known as a leader because their innovations have led their industry. They determined from the beginning that they were going to make technology easy and user-friendly and their whole approach has been centered around that. The design of their products is user-friendly. Their stores are full of helpful, friendly employees. And yes, the design and tone of their ads has always been simple, appealing and easy. There is not a person who works for Apple that doesn’t understand what their brand stands for… and that is what has kept them successful long after Steve J.
To create a successful brand, it’s important to research your industry, consumer perceptions and preferences, the benefits you offer and more. From there, a brand positioning is defined that differentiates you, and it is simply an internal statement that everyone in the company can rally around. If you’re a physician practice, it might be that your brand positioning is centered around being leaders, or simply around creating the most comfortable, smooth experience for patients. If you’re a financial institution, you might be the smartest, the most convenient, or the easiest way to bank. Once your positioning is decided, everything in the business should communicate that positioning — from your employees to your waiting rooms to your communications materials.
This is where the services of a true advertising agency might come in. When I say “true”, there are a lot of companies out there marketing themselves as branding companies. And they will be happy to charge you a nice fee to redesign your logo, write you a tagline, and recommend a set of brand fonts and colors … and they will say that they have branded you. But a logo and a tagline are not a brand. They are simply elements of a brand. And then most of these “branding companies” will have moved on to their next client (maybe your competitor) when you discover whether your new brand works in the marketplace. Good ad agencies, however, have always put branding front and center before any advertising is created. And they will be there when the brand is rolled out and the results come in.
In the end, even if you’ve never enlisted the help of an ad agency or branding company, you have a brand. However, the key to success is having a great brand that draws people in. And that takes more than some fonts and colors.