What makes a brand bold? That is the million dollar question that clients want to know when they come to us for our help. A brand that is bold has the ability to sell itself based on the experience it creates. How? By careful, strategic planning that doesn’t waiver, dedicated employees, bold leaders, and strong internal values and culture.
A brand is not a logo. Anyone can have a logo designed, but it’s what they do with that logo and how they define it that makes all the difference and builds a brand. If you have a staff of employees that don’t believe in the brand then chances are, your brand won’t survive or go very far. Having bold leaders and strong values and culture are also essential to survival. In order to have a bold brand, you need to have the foundation. Here are a few other things that make a brand bold:
- clear, consistent communication
- effective leadership
- internal culture and values
- the brand’s story
- knowing your target audience
- sticking to your brand standards
- working on a referral network
- a strategic marketing plan
- responsive client communication and interaction
- making your brand different from your competitors
- having organizational processes (and following them)
Need some tips for how you can get a bold brand? Though I can argue until I’m blue in the face on the subject of why you should invest in your brand, I understand that it’s not possible in all circumstances. If you don’t have the investment to make in your brand in the beginning, follow these guidelines to get on your way to a bold brand on a bootstrapping budget.
1. Define who your perfect customer will be. What demographic do you want to target? Be specific. This is key to success because it will give you insight to how you will communicate and what the effective channels are for reaching that key audience. Your grandmother will see things differently then your 20-something year old sister.
2. Next, define your story. What is the story you want to tell and how will your brand tell that story in each message it sends? This will need to be consistent in each message and a deep part of your culture. You can’t have a brand without a story.
3. Research the competition. In order to have a successful business, you need to know who’s playing in your sandbox. Do not do what your competitors are doing. Innovate and be bold. Do something radically different to set you apart that your customers will remember.
4. Define your user experience. Starbucks and Apple do it right and are probably the two most obvious examples of top notch user experiences. Think about how you want your customers to interact with your brand. What does that look like? A good exercise for defining this would be to think of an empty room. Fill it with things that define what you want your business to be. Think of colors, smells, textures, objects, people, etc…
5. Build your brand. Now that the details and key messages are in place, it’s time to start building your brand. Design your logo and collateral materials based on key points 1, 2, 3, and 4. Do not waiver from key points 1, 2, 3, and 4. That is how communication gets distorted and brands dilute. Remember, it’s not about personal design taste but about what your customer connects with, the story you tell, and how your customer interacts with your brand. If you have an office or a website, be sure your brand is reflected in those things too. You can’t have a modern, trendy brand with 80’s outdated furniture in your office. The same goes with a website. Choose colors, typefaces and photographs that match your brand experience.
6. Market. Market your business and make connections. It’s time to grow your brand and make it bold. Use social media, blog consistently, and network.
7. Keep innovating. Technology and communication changes almost daily. You need to be sure that your brand transitions with the times and the economy. The same tactics you use today will not be the same that you use a year or two from now. Keep that in mind and don’t get left behind.
8. Have confidence in yourself and what you are doing. If there is one thing that brings down a business and it’s ability to make money, it’s the lack of confidence and fear that business owners have in themselves and their products/services. You need to have confidence and speak with your head held high. If you reflect confidence in yourself and your business, your customers will feel that too.
Making a brand bold isn’t easy. The above guidelines are just the surface. Remember that your brand is the most important investment you will make when you have a business. If you want your business to survive, invest in your brand so your brand value goes up, your customer loyalty spreads, and your credibility grows.