The power of brand building

May/June 2017 edition

Strong branding can help you stand out from your competitors, add value to your offering and engage with your clients. Here are eight steps to help you build your brand.

By Tiffany Wilson

Great branding isn’t just about having a strong logo. It’s about the essence and values of your business – what you stand for and what you believe in.
Far too many businesses get caught up in the visual elements of their brand. But branding is about so much more than just standing out visually. Your brand needs to establish a connection and build a relationship with clients and potential clients. Here’s how.
1. BRAINSTORM your brand values
Whether you’re starting from scratch or undergoing a rebrand, you need to go back to basics.

Brainstorm the reasons your clients should choose you over one of your competitors. You need to be clear about your brand values. What makes you different? What do you stand for? What do you want to be known for? What do you want people to say about you and how you do business?

Be genuine. Don’t just write down what you think your clients want to hear.
2. RESEARCH what your clients think about your brand
It pays to do your research when it comes to branding. Ask your current clients if you can pick their brains about why they chose to work with you. Set up a coffee catch-up to hear it in their own words. You could also send out an online survey to your database to collect information. And don’t forget to review your testimonials – they’re bound to be a wealth of information.

Once you’ve done your research, pick out keywords that come up again and again. These words will reveal a lot about how your brand is currently presenting to the market.
3. ENGAGE your team in the branding process
Buy in and support for your brand is essential, so involve your team in the branding process from the start and ask them to help define your brand values. Give them regular updates and ask them for their input. Remember, they’re your brand ambassadors and your brand will be much stronger if your team are fully engaged and behind it.
4. VISUALISE your brand identity
Once you’ve identified your brand values, you’re ready to start working on the visual elements. Your brand identity is the visual representation of what you stand for and reinforces your values and aesthetic at every touchpoint.

The visual elements of your brand can be subjective and everyone is going to have a personal opinion. Make sure the look and feel of your brand is practical, visually appealing and current – ask your graphic designer to come up with a few different options to choose from. And remember to think about how it will appear across different mediums such as online, newspaper, brochures and signboards.

Don’t forget to think about your marketplace. If you’re doing business at the top end of the market, your brand identity should reflect this. If your target market is suburban families, you’ll want to avoid alienating them with a high end looking brand.

5. MAP your brand’s key touchpoints
Your branding must be consistent across all your touchpoints. Consider the key places your brand appears and make a list of all your materials. From digital touchpoints like your website, videos and social media to more tangible things like signboards, brochures, business cards and office signage you’ll be surprised how long the list is. And don’t forget to consider new ways to apply your brand.

Think about your business holistically and go beyond where the visual elements of your brand will appear. It’s also about the overall client experience and how your team represents your brand values every time they make contact with a client or potential client.
6. ENFORCE your brand guidelines
Create brand guidelines to give yourself, your team and your suppliers a guide to work from when creating and using material for your brand. The guidelines will be your brand ‘bible’. Include a general overview of your brand values, details of the visual elements such as the logo, colours and fonts, as well as photography recommendations, printing parameters, examples of brochures and other material. The more detailed this document is, the stronger and more consistent your brand will be, as there will be less room for error and misrepresentation of the brand.
7. PROMOTE your brand widely
Whether you’re starting from scratch, doing a refresh or undergoing a complete rebrand it’s important to communicate your brand to clients, colleagues and the market so they know who you are and what you stand for.

A few weeks before you launch, put together some teaser communications to let everyone know that something special is happening. A brand launch party will also help to make everyone aware and get them involved in your brand from the get-go.
8. MONITOR the usage of all brand elements
The key to a strong brand is consistency, so appoint someone to monitor your brand usage. They will be the person in your business that knows the brand better than anyone else and is the keeper of all the brand assets. When you have a team of people applying your brand across a wide range of mediums, it’s common for inconsistencies to crop up. So having someone responsible for all approvals is essential.

If you do happen to find that inconsistencies are arising, consider having a team training session or updating your brand guidelines to clarify the application of your brand.
TIFFANY WILSON is the Director at Chronicle Republic.