Have you ever seen a brand similar to yours and wished it belonged to you? You may have thought, “I wish I thought of that!” or “I wish I communicated myself that way.” Most likely, you didn’t feel this way because the other business sold a better product or service. You felt that way because they created some incredible branding for themselves.
When the goal is standing out in a crowded marketplace, then branding is the game. When you create a brand that people can’t forget, you win.
Why is branding important? A skeptic might say it’s because our culture is becoming increasingly commercialized. But from a more positive perspective: In an age of global prosperity, consumers have the luxury of choice. Branding is how you give yourself an edge when there are an abundance of options.
So how do you create an advantage for your business with your brand? You’re excited about your business concept; now your job is to get the world excited. Here’s how.
- Keep it narrow. The key to a memorable brand is specificity. In an effective brand strategy, defining who you aren’t is every bit as important as defining who you are. By staying focused, you create messaging that tells a singular story and creates a memorable and lasting impression. Coco Chanel once said: “Elegance is refusal.” The same is true for branding. Being able to say no to an idea that is great but not on-brand keeps you effective.
- Stay bold. Don’t hold back. Don’t try to look like your competitors or “blend in.” These days, most people are very redundant and safe with their marketing. Designers have interchangeably similar Instagram accounts. SEO marketing company websites look identical: cold, techy, and forgettable. The same is true almost across the board! If you are going to create a memorable impression in the minds of those interacting with your brand, boldly follow through on your perspective and vision for your marketing. Whether you’re a hotel owner, a contractor, a painter, an inventor, a plumber, a store owner–it doesn’t matter! Marketing makes a difference for any industry. Dare to follow your own muse, infuse your own vision and personality, and do something no one has seen. The payoff is being remembered when other businesses blend together.
- Keep it consistent. After you take the time to craft a strategic and representative brand, it’s essential to stay within those parameters. Small deviations may seem insignificant, but over time these small diversions can morph into a complete loss of focus. This is why creating brand guidelines is necessary. By distributing these guides throughout your organization, and ensuring style sheets are always consulted before creating or distributing any marketing materials, you create a cohesive culture.
- Believe in your vision. In a crowded market, being unique is your advantage. If your brand idea feels different and you’re unsure if it’s an effective strategy, there is a time and place to get feedback on what’s working and what’s not working, but there’s also a time to trust your gut, double down on the branding you’ve created, and give that messaging a chance to resonate. Will there be a learning curve for some of your audience? Sure. Expect it. But remember it’s better than being forgotten. The consumer’s process of curiosity, confusion, or taking a moment to understand a message is a win for you—because that is a moment they’re spent thinking about your brand. It’s an opportunity to be processed and remembered.
The final key: Be persistent. Remember when you first started your business? The people in your life who saw what you were doing probably went through a process of evaluation. Their first reaction to your new entrepreneurial endeavors might well have been skepticism. Humans are creatures of habit; we’re always a bit suspicious of someone doing something new. They may have thought it was weird, out of character, maybe even presumptuous. Who exactly does he think he is?
But, over time, your friends and family got used to your new project. Soon, they forgot what you did before! Your success reinforced in their minds that you were OK; you weren’t losing your mind or embarrassing yourself. And pretty soon your new business was a normal part of their understanding of you as a person. Then, one day, one of those friends or family found themselves in need of a product or service like yours. And they immediately thought of you, and gave you a call.
Branding works like that. At first, your audience may be puzzled, skeptical. Early adopter types may love what you’re doing, while those who play it safe hold back. But keep talking. Keep sharing. Stay consistent, stay bold, and believe in your vision.
Eventually, as you continue to persist with consistent on-brand messaging, the idea that raised eyebrows starts to become familiar, accepted, and remembered. And before long, when your audience needs a business or product like yours, the business they call is the one that struck them, stuck with them, and then kept showing up. And you get the phone call, instead of the competitor who played it safe and blended in, didn’t prioritize their marketing, and didn’t keep communicating with their audience.
A great brand pays off.
Need help creating a great brand for your business? My team at Go West is really good at helping people with the strategic planning and creative work behind a successful brand. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation!