When building your brand there is so much to think about and so many things that can be overlooked. Here Rob outlines his top things to look out for to avoid pitfalls many make:
DO: Discover who your ideal customer is...
We all think we have a pretty good idea of who are clients are but how many of us profile our clients to find out if they are 100% right for us. Think about those top clients you love working with. What do they look like, what industry do they work in? What makes them choose you? What makes them different from other clients?
What if you only had clients like these and more of them? How would that affect your business?
Once you get a good profile of your ideal client(s) you can focus your brand, messaging and marketing around these very people.
"If your brand is acceptable to everyone, it won't be interesting to anyone"
DON'T: Say it is everyone!...
When you start out it is easy to say we will work with anyone who will pay us and be less fussy who we work with. However when you continue to think in this way, you attract clients that will prey on your desperation and you end up working with more and more people that take up all your time and want it all for the cheapest price.
DO: Invest in your brand early on...
Building a brand is often thought of as something that big companies have to work on as they can afford to spend thousands if not millions to create a winning brand.
The truth is these well known brands have only become so well known and successful because they have had a strong brand from the beginning and continually work on building it.
It doesn't have to cost you thousands but spending some time effort and money on getting the right people to help you lay the foundations of a good brand early on, will not only give you better guidance as you grow and build it but will save you having to change everything down the line which can be even more costly.
DON'T: Pay £5 for a logo and call it your brand...
When you pay someone or a website a small amount in exchange for a logo file, that is all you will get - a logo - (and probably one someone else has got too).
A professional designer or branding agency will design your logo to reflect the key values of your business. They will also take into consideration colour choices that appeal to your ideal clients, the fonts that will create the right style for your brand, where the logo will be used and help you build up an identity that supports your logo.
DO: Take inspiration from other brands...
It is worth studying well known brands or leading brands in your industry sector. Someone once told me that "success leaves clues". Those that are successful are doing something others aren't and have been able to invest in the best minds to help them. Take a look and take inspiration from things they are doing.
"We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas"
DON'T: Rip them off...
Don't blatantly copy and hope no one will notice. They will and it will only discredit you. Take inspiration from them and work out ways to incorporate something similar in your brand or even how can you improve it.
DO: Create a brand slogan or tagline...
A good tagline can be as memorable, if not more so than your logo. It should sum up what your business is about in a few words.
Can you identify these famous brands just from their tagline:
Every Little Helps
Just Do It
Because Your Worth It
I'm Lovin' It
When you use it consistently throughout your branding and marketing it becomes a clear message and memorable part of your brand.
DON'T: Over complicate it...
Your tagline should try and include the following characteristics: - be memorable, include a key benefit, differentiate you and impart a positive feeling.
It is tempting to make it long and complicated to get everything in but the power is in the simplicity. It is worth enlisting a copywriter to help you construct your tagline.
DO: Develop your brands personality
How do you want your brand to come across? Friendly or serious? High energy or carefully planned? Modern and high tech or traditional and classic? inclusive to all or exclusive to a niche audience?.
Clients are increasingly looking for companies that feel like they are communicating directly to them and understands them. Develop your personality to match similar personality traits to your ideal clients but also they must match your true personality too otherwise you will come across fake an unauthentic.
DON'T: Try and be too "trendy"...
It is tempting to step on a current band wagon or trend to appear current and upto date but always think about your values and your true personality. Does it truly reflect you. Trends come and go so if you keep changing you just become a face in the crowd.
DO: constantly work on developing a unique brand culture...
A common mistake we see is where a designer or branding agency has created a brand for a business and throughout the process they have been dealing directly with the business owner or small team of directors or the marketing manager. Often when they have finished that is where the brand stays, secretly hidden from view and only accessed when asked for. To build a successful brand culture in your business, every member of your team should be living and breathing the brand.
"Your entire company should be considered your branding dept"
DON'T: leave your employees in the dark...
Every employee should be able to understand what the brand represents and what role they can play in it's success. Actively involve them in the process. They will feel more valued and more aligned to the brand and proud to be part of it. They will become custodians of your brand and actively shout about it wherever they go.
DO: be clear on your mission, vision and values...
These are the guiding principles of your brand. Your mission should drive you - analyse key objectives you have set in typically the next 3-5 years.
Your vision should inspire you - Its the longer term shared vision of what achieving your mission looks like for your business and for your clients.
Your values help guide your choices at every stage of your business.
"If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand"
DON'T: Go against your values..
When you are clear on your key values they help guide your choices and you'll start to notice tangible results with your marketing and business goals. The more you stay true to them, the better you will be respected and trusted. It makes saying no so much easier.
DO: Constantly review and develop your brand...
It's easy to put up your new logo and website and forget about it. You need to constantly review your customer journey and all touch points and check there is consistency to your brand.
"Your brand is a story that is never completely told"
DON'T: let it stagnate...
Keep a close eye on changes to your market, new competitors and what people are saying about your business. Make sure your brand evolves to steer perceptions and stay current or risk losing out those keeping up and staying relevant.
DO: keep an eye on your competition...
It's the old saying "keep your friends close but your enemy's closer". Review what they are doing well - how can you improve or differentiate. Also review what they are not doing so well and how you can capitalise.
DON'T: get too caught up by them - stay in your own lane...
It's tempting to see something a competitor is doing or see some recent success and you get that envious streak and try to emulate it. Stick to your values and your time will come.