Whether starting out with a new business venture, or looking to refresh and grow a current one, there are a whole range of factors to consider and prioritise as a means of achieving your goals. At the forefront of your mind should be brand.
Sure, brand development is a key specialism of ours, so we like to think our opinion is valid, but you might just need a little more corroboration for this claim. How about Steve Forbes? The global publishing heavyweight and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine, thought to be worth around $430m said quite plainly of brand, “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.”
You see branding isn’t just about choosing a pretty logo and an eye-catching colourway. Built and developed properly your brand can increase the value of your company, give employees motivation and desire to work with you and for you, and makes acquiring new business that bit easier. Getting it right though is tricky, which is why we’ve prepared this guide on how you can make that ‘single most important investment’ pay dividends in more ways than one…
Know your place
In the market, that is. Before you do anything, and certainly before you invest anything, you need to have a thorough appreciation of the market you wish to penetrate. This means scoping out the competition and learning about who your would-be customers are. In order to do this, you must channel your inner Sherlock…
- Start with simple browsing. Get onto Google and put in search terms likely to bring up competitors and analyse their websites, noting down anything that looks useful/worthy of ‘borrowing’.
- Spend some time on social media reading the customer comments on competitors’ posts. They often a treasure trove of information about what customers like and don’t like.
- Do some old school customer research. Get out there and speak to people who operate within your chosen market, either as customers or employees and find out their thoughts and suggestions.
From the data you collate, you can begin thinking more clearly about how you wish to position your brand and where you want your focus to be.
Who are you?
It’s natural in business to want to provide the answer to every question. To be a one-stop shop for all and every need. The truth is, even for the biggest corporations, it’s simply not practicable.
Instead, think about where your strengths lie and hone in on the type of client your strengths would best serve. To give some structure to this process, the following three undertakings are highly advisable:
- Prepare a Positioning Statement – A Positioning Statement is a way of articulating what your product is, who it’s for, and how it’s beneficial to the customer. It should only be short, maybe two or three sentences, and need not be shared with anyone bar your immediate stakeholders.
- Get wordy – Words are powerful. They shape the way think and the way we behave. Make a comprehensive list of adjectives and spend some time thinking about ones that best describe how you envisage your company will be perceived. Choose between 3-5 adjectives and let these inform how you describe your brand and develop a tone of voice for content, social media, and creative processes.
- Is it a bird? Is it a plane? – A good exercise to further solidify what it is you want your brand to communicate, is picking an apt metaphor for it. The metaphor you choose can be anything; an animal, an historical figure, a tool, anything. What’s important is your ability to describe why this metaphor explains what your brand is about.
The naming game
It’s worth reminding that though your business name is important, however clever, and/or memorable it is, it’s how you conduct your activities, look after your customers, and present your personality that will win you customers. That said, your business name will influence your logo, your domain name, and your marketing output, and that’s just as a starter for ten. For the hassle involved in changing your name further down the line, it’s worth getting it right first time.
Preferably you want a name that’s unique, insomuch as it’s hard to imitate and distinct from your competitors. It’s also advisable to keep it broad should your production line diversify in the future. The following list should work as a handy guide for coming up with something:
- Invent a word, such as Pepsi
- Take an unrelated word and make it your own, like Amazon for online commerce, or Bulldog for men’s grooming
- Use a suggestive word or metaphor like Lush
- Describe it literally, for example Shoe Zone
- Alter a word by removing letters or adding letters (Flickr, Tumblr)
- Use the initials of a longer name like IBM (The International Business Machines Corporation)
- Combine two words: Pinterest (pin interest) or Facebook (Face + Book)
- Turn a string of words into an acronym, BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke)
Whatever you decide on though, make sure you run it past a few people first. The last thing you want is to go live with a business name only to discover later that it has an embarrassing unintended meaning or is too close to a competitor.
In part 2 of this blog, we’ll look at best use of colours and fonts, creating straplines, designing your logo, and how to develop and evolve your brand as you move forward.