What’s your brand? If you can’t answer that in a few words, you have a problem.
Branding provides the foundation for your entire marketing strategy. Your brand is your identity; it’s how your customers feel about you. Which means that even if you have never thought about your brand, it exists. It just might not be working in your favor.
Your brand is the promise you make. Get it right, and customers will understand why you matter to them. Get it wrong, and you’ll never make a dent.
Your only real marketing asset
With all the pressure start-ups are under to get your product out there and start taking over the world, investing in branding may seem like a big distraction. That couldn’t be more wrong. Your brand is the only real asset to come out of your marketing spend, and if you don’t approach it strategically, it could even be a liability.
Face it: it’s a busy market. There are a lot of similar products and services out there. Sure, you know you’re special, but your would-be customers can’t yet tell the difference between what you do, and a dozen other companies. That’s especially true in tech – and even more so in new tech, like blockchain. You can explain, but why should they listen?
A strong brand gives your audience a reason to pay attention. It’s your chance to stand out, and to be remembered. Once they’re listening, you have a chance to convince them rationally; but without making an emotional impression, they are unlikely to even notice you.
And since your brand is your identity, it matters inside the company as much as outside. A clear brand gives your team shared purpose and ensures everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. No confusion, no mixed messages. Being absolutely clear on your shared purpose is a powerful way to keep your team motivated and effective; plus, it’s also a great tool to attract new employees – and of course investors!
But despite all these compelling reasons to commit to branding, for too many people, it’s still not clear what branding even is.
So what does it actually mean?
The first thing you may imagine when you think of branding is the logo design. But that isn’t really the brand, any more than your favorite outfit represents your own identity. What you wear, how you present yourself, all form part of how you express your identity. And your logo, your company colors and fonts and imagery, are certainly all important elements in communicating your brand! But that’s all it is: communication.
The brand itself is the story you are telling, not the way you tell it. It forms the foundation of your entire marketing strategy. After all, you have to know the promise you are making before you can decide how to deliver. But when you really understand that promise, it drives everything you do.
Maybe you can start to see the profound value that can be delivered through a comprehensive branding process: from your brand identity, you can derive strategic objectives and ultimately a full marketing plan. Branding crystallizes the value you offer, and the values you live. It defines your core audience, and points out the path to reach them and deliver that value.
That’s not a trivial exercise! It needs to be put right at the heart of building your business.
And of course, finding your identity is pretty complicated stuff. You might not see yourself the same way your customers do; maybe they care about aspects of your offering that you don’t even realize are special! That’s why it really helps to engage branding specialists to figure out what your brand is, and how to use it to really make an impact in the marketplace.
And how does it work?
Building a brand starts with aligning your strengths and values with customer needs. That’s not the same thing as market need, by the way. Market need can (and should!) guide you in building products, but it can’t define your identity.
At THE RELEVANCE HOUSE, we use a scientific approach based on proven psychological principles to make sure that your brand makes a promise that is relevant to your audience’s basic human needs. Not all of them – only the ones that you are best placed to address! We’ll help you figure out the best match, and map out a plan to build a direct connection from your offering, to your customers’ emotional needs.
And then, finally, we get to work on designing the expression of that brand. With a deep understanding of the message you want to convey, choosing your fonts, colors and tone of voice isn’t just a superficial exercise. Consistency here sets the right customer expectations and underpins your relationship.
Everything has to tell the same story – from product design right through to customer service and management style. That’s how important your brand is. Make it clear, make it make sense, and make it the heart of your business. Then it’s the source from which everything else can flow.