What’s business branding all about? And why should you take time to ensure that you’ve covered all the bases when it comes to your brand?
This post will walk you through the different components of your business brand and will help you get a better understanding on what it takes to create an irresistible brand that will speak to your prospects and clients.
Branding: A Definition
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word brand?
Chances are you thought about a company you’re a fan of…but what about branding when it comes to YOUR business?
For some entrepreneurs, branding = logo, color(s) and font(s).
If this is how you’ve been thinking about it all, then it’s time to take a step back and reconsider your approach.
You see, branding is something that goes beyond just a logo or specific colors.
Don’t get me wrong, these elements are part of branding, but there’s more.
Branding is about what makes your company unique and how doing business with you will benefit your customers in some way.
How content marketing wizard Neil Patel puts it, ‘Your brand is simply how prospects perceive you.
Branding is a way to identify your business to the consumer or the end-user of your products or services. It is a message about what your business is about, what your company values are and how your company is presented to the world.’
When it comes to these aspects, it’s important to be careful not to confuse branding with marketing.
Marketing is sales, promotions and getting business because of how your products and services will enrich the life of the customer.
As Neil Patel points out, ‘Branding goes deeper than marketing. Marketing, advertising, and other promotional activities only communicate your brand personality and message.
Your brand is comprised of your personality, your voice, and your message; branding is the process of establishing these traits.’
There is a definite overlap between marketing and branding (more on this later in the article), and a good brand helps in marketing, just as a bad brand can drag sales down.
So, when it comes to your business branding, think of it as a way to appeal to your target market and communicate what you and your business are all about.
What About Personal Branding?
I know, things can get confusing pretty quickly.
Up until now, you may have thought about personal branding and business branding as two completely different things.
But as you’re about to see, they are closer than you think.
As we saw, your business brand is a combination of things, which, ultimately, allows you to let your target know what you’re all about.
But what if you’re a solopreneur or run a company, and are the actual face of the company too?
This may come as a surprise to you but ‘personal branding is NOT about you’, says Shut up and Tweet author and personal branding expert Phil Pallen.
‘I know it’s called personal branding, but I use the terms branding and business interchangeably. Something you do for yourself? That’s a hobby.
Satisfying the need of your customer or audience? Now that’s a brand.
Ask yourself this: what problem is keeping your customer awake at night, and how can you provide a solution?’
As you can see from Pallen’s insights, personal and business branding are connected to one another and, more importantly, are about your target market.
Whether you’re talking about personal branding or business branding, the focus should be on the person you’re trying to reach (aka your customer).
Sure, your logo, colors, fonts, personal and company values matter but they’re all just pieces of the puzzle.
Branding is about combining all of these elements — and additional ones — to communicate to your targets what your company is all about (and how it can help them solve a problem).
How to Engage in Business Branding
The question now becomes: how should you and your team go about business branding?
Before we look at a series of strategies that will help you with that, it’s important for me to put emphasis on one aspect.
At the cost of sounding a bit cliché, I’m going to tell you that the approach and strategies discussed in this article require time and effort to develop and to start generating results.
What we’re about to look at will help people remember you, feel that you have a cohesive message and sense of purpose.
Additionally, it will show that you know marketing at a higher level, which is something that creates a feeling of higher knowledge and trust.
With the following strategies, you’ll be easier to recognize and you’ll stay top of mind.
- Mission statement: if you don’t have a company mission statement or philosophy, it is critical to develop one. This should indicate the core values of your business. Once this is in writing and fleshed out, it provides a guideline for making decisions moving forward that reflect those values and goals.
- Get personal: to build a brand you have to connect. Connecting through blogs, community events, social causes that support your mission statement and interests are all effective ways to brand your business and to connect with potential audiences.
- Work with your staff: the company has to be consistent with branding messages. If the core value is customer service, it is critical to train your staff as to the specifics of what that means.
A bad experience with an untrained staff member can impact a customer’s view of your brand, which can undermine your efforts.
- Know the colors of your logo and website: use them consistently in other marketing efforts, graphics etc.
- Know the font in your logo and tagline: use it consistently in other marketing graphics etc.
- Ensure your social media platforms “match” your website and all the places where folks “find you” look consistent and coincide with your logo and image — if you’d like to see a real-life example of this, you can take a look at our homepage, Facebook and Twitter profiles. You’ll see how everything matches our business brand.
- Be aware of what images and colors emit in regards to sentiment and emotions. The psychology of color is both useful and interesting.
- Think about the language you use on your website, in print material and marketing. For example – you’ve probably seen how I use terms like ‘port in the storm’ or ‘may the winds always be at your back’ or how my Rescue Boat Services, Sail Boat Services and Yacht services are all in line with my branding.
And in case you’ve already built a business brand, then I’d encourage you to take a look at this article that discusses examples of companies that failed to communicate something in a way their customers would understand — and that had a negative impact on the brands (ouch!).
The Intersection Between Branding, Content, and Marketing
Earlier, I mentioned that, despite being connected, branding and marketing are two separate things (as confirmed by Neil Patel’s quotes too).
So how can you and your team leverage your business brand and bring together branding, content and marketing?
Ready to find out?
Great! Here it comes 🙂
When it comes to planning and creating your content, you should keep some of the business branding questions and aspects at the back of your mind.
Things like ‘What does my target audience struggle with?’, ‘How can we provide a solution to that problem?’ and ‘How can we do so in a way that’s aligned with our company values and business philosophy?’
Let’s take Smooth Sailing Business Growth as an example.
Smooth Sailing Business Growth was founded to help business owners calm the choppy waters of fast-paced business growth and our specialty is helping you attract & convert more customers faster through powerful content marketing.
Too many entrepreneurs feel like they’re either dead in the water or stuck in high waves, unable to get to the port of their dreams — and that’s where we can help.
That’s some of the text you can find on our Start Here page and that discusses what we focus on.
Whenever my team and I plan and create content, we always keep this in mind.
Our content should:
- Be created with a style, strategies, resources and case-studies that are tailored for a well-defined group of people: business owners
- Include our unique angle (that’s why we include sailing metaphors and terms every now and then)
- Cover topics related to content marketing, business growth and attraction & conversion of more customers
- Be paired with images and visual content that are in line with our brand colors and fonts
That’s where the Smooth Sailing Business Growth branding and content spaces intersect.
If you are wondering what type of content you should be creating or are unsure between two different platforms, says Facebook and Snapchat, think about your branding elements.
Between Facebook and Snapchat, which brings you closer to your target market? And what platform outperforms the other when it comes to helping you communicate your branding values better?
Remember, you don’t need to explicitly write out what your company values are, etc. in each blog post.
However, it’s important that, when you cover a specific topic, you do so from an angle and using a voice that are “injected” with your brand.
If you typically have a laid-back and a quite informal voice on your website, there would be a disconnect if, all of a sudden, you’d write blog posts that are very formal…
Whenever you find yourself unsure between two or more content options (blog posts only or blog posts and podcast episodes? Audio podcasts or videos?), think about your business branding.
As we’re about to see, the same logic applies to the branding-marketing connection too.
Think of things like:
- Which platforms should be part of my content marketing strategy? (Where should I distribute my content?)
- What digital marketing assets can I use to promote my business?
- Or should we focus most of our marketing efforts offline?
- What style should our marketing campaigns have so that they resonate with our prospects?
‘Branding isn’t the same as marketing — branding is the core of your marketing strategy’, says Neil Patel in Where Marketing Ends, Branding Begins.
I couldn’t agree more!
And I’d like you to start thinking about business branding as the compass that guides you through the waters or as the lighthouse that lights your way to the harbor.
You’ve Built Your Business Brand, Now What?
I hope this article has been a useful resource in helping you get a better understanding of business branding and to start creating yours.
Building your brand isn’t the finish line, though. It’s just the beginning.
As Neil Patel explains, ‘Branding isn’t a one-time thing that you do at the beginning of establishing your business.
It is an ongoing effort that permeates your processes, your culture, and your development as a business, and it requires your dedication and loyalty in order to reflect in your work’.
What can you do, then, to reinforce your brand and to keep everything you do “updated” and aligned with it as much as possible?
I have 7 points for you.
The first one has to do with your business goals and mission statement. Are they still the same?
Perhaps you’ve decided to veer off of a goal to focus on something else or maybe something has changed (e.g. you’ve become a parent for the first time) and you’d like the mission statement and company values to reflect those changes.
Then we have your existing content.
Something you might have written years ago could use some tweaking so that the information is up-to-date and it helps your target marketing in the best way possible.
If this sounds like you, then you could start browsing at your library of content to see what needs to be updated (you could even use Google Search Console to get a snapshot of your site search traffic and update your content accordingly).
While updating your existing content is a good thing to do, so is creating brand new content.
And don’t forget to optimize it with SEO!
When is the last time you’ve updated your imagery?
You know, the photos you have around your site (especially the About page) and as social media profiles?
No, I’m not saying that you should change them every week or every month.
However, it’s good to make sure that these images are up-to-date with you and your company.
Years ago, Neil Patel changed its look by completely shaving off his hair. He updated all is social media and website images accordingly (he even added it to his site favicon).
Now try to think about this: wouldn’t it feel a bit weird if all of his social media profile pictures still portraited him with hair, even though he has changed look some time ago?
Sometimes, you can go one step further and update your website too (this can be only your homepage or specific pages or the entire site).
The fifth point to focus on once you’ve built your business brand is prospect and customer engagement.
Being in touch with your target market and existing customers helps you feel the temperature of the niche.
Are people still facing the same challenges they did a couple of years ago? Or perhaps those challenges have evolved or aren’t an issue anymore?
Whether you do that through social media conversations, conferences, meetups, email marketing or market research-like tools (e.g. surveys), you need to make sure you stay on top of things.
I know what you’re thinking: ‘What about my team?’
I’m glad you asked!
You see, being in constant communication with your team is the best way to make sure that everyone is still in line with the company values, philosophy, and business goals.
If you have a remote team, you could use something like Slack for daily communication or video conferencing tools like Zoom and WhereBy to have weekly virtual meetings with your team (now it’s possible to do video calls on Slack too).
And in case you’re able to, you could even consider a quarterly or yearly retreat or event where you all meet face-to-face, talk business and have fun.
As you go through these points you may come to the realization that things have changed quite a bit.
Perhaps the challenge your customers were facing is long gone and there isn’t any real need for a solution to that problem anymore.
Or maybe you’ve decided that the business goals you were focusing on are a thing of the past and you’d like to shift toward new ones.
This is where rebranding comes into play.
Whether it’s a partial rebrand or a complete overhaul, where you update/change most (if not all) aspects related to your brand…sometimes rebranding is needed because it brings a breath of fresh air into the business.
It doesn’t really matter what industry you’re in, the type of business you run or its size — these business branding aspects apply to you and your company regardless.
And if you’d like to know whether your brand is ‘bang on’ and consistent or you need help tweaking it, we’re here for you, that’s what we DO!