When you’re starting a new business and your professional marketer tells you that it’s very important to develop strong business brand, know that there is nothing more important. Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. If you are fresh and new and need to be immediately in everyone’s face and memorable; you need business branding. The essential elements of business branding are two-fold – there is the visual brand that aesthetically represents what you’re all about: the design of your logo, website, and materials; then there is the messaging that communicates what you do and why you’re different, which includes all of the copy and your tagline. To develop an appropriate brand, you need to know your audience, your current challenges and goals, and determine the best visual “mark” and tagline that will represent your business for many years to come.
Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates you from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. The foundation of your brand is your logo and your tagline. Start here, but don’t neglect to integrate this logo and tagline into your website and marketing to communicate your brand to the public. If you don’t do that, your brand is wasted. Always follow your business brand development with a strong and diversified brand strategy.
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Your Visual Brand
When a designer says they’ll design your brand, they really mean your logo and identity materials. It would be more accurate to say they are designing your visual brand. They often will want you to provide your own messaging and copy, and they will completely rely on you in terms of positioning and strategy.
This is the person you use when you are first starting out if you don’t have a lot of money to invest. It gives you something to get your business out there, to start selling and testing your services in the market. Once you’ve had some experience with clients, a solid marketing strategy can be developed and will take you to the next level.
You may choose to find an inexpensive freelancer to develop your visual brand in order to save money. There are designers out there fresh out of school that may take on your project. Beware, however, that a rising design star may be incredibly talented creatively, but likely hasn’t yet mastered the art of managing projects and clients. This usually means a lot more of their time AND your time are spent on the project, so certainly be wary of hourly pricing. Also, they are generally not thinking about messaging and business strategy, which is EXTREMELY essential to creating a compelling and enduring brand. Your branding can look great, even brilliant, but if your messaging is generic and your business strategy is weak, a gorgeous visual brand is not going to help you much in the long run. It’s best to hire someone who will look at the whole picture – What image do you want your business to portray? How will your brand stand out amongst your competition? Will your visual brand speak to and appeal to your target audience.
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Brand Message & Design
Luckily, plenty of agencies integrate design with messaging. You tell them what you your business is about and what you want to communicate, and they put it into words, make a tagline, and design an identity to match. This is probably the most common approach to this type of branding, and if you’ve got a solid business strategy, a brand agency that does the messaging and the design is a great match.
Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.
Brand Strategy and Equity
Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company’s products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product–and customers will pay that higher price.
Brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or an emotional attachment. For example, Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product.
Defining Your Brand
Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:
- What is your company’s mission?
- What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
- What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
Research must be done. You must know the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. You can’t rely on what you think that they think. You have to know what they think.
If you need assistance with Business Branding, website design, or content creation to promote your business; feel free to contact Creative Juices Marketing Agency to discuss. We’d love to help you! CONTACT US.
See also Your Business Needs Branding