- An effective brand lets customers know what to expect from your business.
- When creating a brand, it's important to know who you are as a company.
- Keep your audience in mind when creating your brand.
Branding your company is a vital step in starting and maintaining your business. An effective brand draws customers to a business and helps them know what to expect when they work with that company. Poor branding can have a highly negative effect on your marketing efforts.
Your company's brand has a lot to do with design elements, like a logo, name, colors, fonts and website design. A lot more goes into this than just being aesthetically pleasing. Your branding should represent your company's story, culture, purpose and experiences.
If you have an advertising or marketing agency, the pressure to effectively brand your company is especially high: If you can't make a strong brand for yourself, other companies won't trust you to create one for them. This guide will help you focus on the elements of your company that should affect your branding decisions. You can use these tips to build not only your own brand, but brands for your clients.
1. Know who you are and what you do.
When you create your brand, you should have a solid understanding of what your company feels like and what you want to achieve as a business. Your brand should tell a story to your clients, and it's important that you know what that story is when you set out to brand yourself.
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Morgan Spurlock shared some experiences he had with personal branding in his TED Talk, "Embrace Transparency," which is also referred to as "The Greatest TED Talk Ever Sold." Based on his experiences, he recommends identifying the attributes that best describe your company. He sorts these into two categories: up attributes and down attributes. Up attributes are energetic and proactive; they might include traits like "inspiring," "adventurous," "contemporary," "playful" and "novel." Down attributes, which are more grounded and peaceful, could include "sophisticated," "familiar," "reliable," "contemplative" and "nurturing."
Start by making a list of attributes that you think best describe your company. Then, decide what two words best capture your company as a whole based on those attributes. These two words or themes will guide how you brand your company. For example, if you decide that your company is best described as "contemporary" and "playful," you might want to choose bright colors to reflect your playful side, or use a contemporary sans serif type set or font like Orkney, Aqua or Modeka.
Your company name should also represent your traits. You should come up with a name that is memorable, simple and versatile. It should be relevant to what you do and tell a story about your company. Remember that your brand should give clients an idea of what to expect when they work with you.
2. Know your audience.
You can't appeal to your audience if you don't know who's in that audience. The following sample questions about your ideal buyer are geared toward marketing and advertising agencies, though they can be adapted for any industry:
- What industry does my ideal client work in?
- What is the size of the business my client owns or works in?
- What type of content is my ideal client looking for?
- What demographic is my ideal client targeting in their own advertising or marketing?
For more questions to help you identify your audience, check out HubSpot's free Make My Persona tool. This tool guides you through questions about your ideal client, and then sends you a report on your buyer's persona based on your answers.
Once you know who's in your audience, you can more accurately predict what your target market will respond to. This information should also help you build your brand.
3. Have a message.
The most successful brands today have a message. It can be environmentally friendly, charitable or simply that you're the coolest thing around. Whatever your message is, be proud of it. Shout it from the rooftops (or your website).
Bombas is a great example. Its message has two parts: that its socks are designed to be more comfortable than the competition, and that it donates a pair of socks to someone in need for every pair sold. This message is memorable and meaningful.
4. Be consistent.
Once you've determined what your brand is, everything should reflect that – your logo, your quotes and the way you describe your product. Keep the same tone and attitude across everything related to your brand.
Questions to guide your branding decisions
Use these questions to guide you while you make your own branding decisions or create brands for your clients:
- Does my brand speak to my audience?
- Does my brand tell a story about my company?
- Is my company name memorable and versatile?
- Does my brand appeal to the senses?
- Do my branding choices reflect the values and culture of my company?
- Will my customers have an idea of what to expect from working with us based on our name, logo and other branding materials?
- Does all of my content have a distinct voice that is particular to my brand?
- Is my branding content compatible with different media? Will it look good in print as well as online? Will it be appealing on my website as well as on different social media sites?
- Is my branding simple and iconic?
- Does my branding have continuity across everything I do?
As a marketing or advertising agency, you have to make sure your own brand is on point before you'll be trusted to develop branded materials for other companies. Figuring out what your company stands for, what the customer experience will be like and who your audience is help you make a strong, effective brand.