In this fifth, and final, conversation in the series on how to systematically improve your marketing, we’ll discuss how to improve your branding so it plays a positive role in helping you achieve your market positioning.
Conversation 5: Your branding (what does it say about your organisation?)
Excellent branding is essential for business growth because it accurately shows the market positioning that you want to achieve. When trying to figure out what it would be like to be your customer, people take shortcuts; your brand provides those shortcuts. It creates a crucial impression about your business.
Savvy businesses control that “impression”. They ensure that their prospects, customers and market place are fed the cues so that they are positioned correctly in people’s minds. They manage and control their entire branding.
Before we begin…
We should only be having this conversation if we’ve already discussed and clarified:
- Conversation #1: What your clients’ problems are
- Conversation #2: Whose problems you’re solving
- Conversation #3: What products you offer them to solve
- Conversation #4: Market positioning, what do your prices say?
If we haven’t had these conversations or it was a while ago, do please go back and re-read them.
Branding is more than looking ‘pretty’.
Let’s scotch this myth: your brand is more than a logo and some colours. It’s goal is not to ‘look good’. Here are three reasons why it’s essential to your business:
- The way you brand your business helps prospective customers decide whether or not to choose you.
- Branding helps current customers decide whether they want to stick with you and recommend you.
- And it gives your entire market place an impression of who you are, what you are about and how they should mentally “file” you.
Let’s start to broaden out our understanding about what branding really is. Let’s do that by looking at your brand, in its entirety.
Focusing on your brand…let’s talk about what I’m looking for and why it’s important.
To get an overview of your branding, let’s visit a range of places that your business interacts with people; on and offline, in person and over the phone. I want to see if you’re presenting yourselves consistently. I want to see what impression I have of your company before you tell me how you want to be perceived.
- Can you tell me that what I am going to find is a clear, consistent impression wherever I turn?
- In your images, your words, your tone of voice, how your material looks, sounds and feels?
- In short, is your branding strong and clear and conveying the messages you want it to be?
Let’s have a look.
How your company describes itself
I’m busy; as are your prospective customers. We want one clear message, which tells us what your organisation is about. Give us that message.Then repeat it. Again. And again. Across all your marketing. So that if someone says, “What do they do?” they can figure it out quickly and clearly without thinking or hesitation.
Now, have you made my life easy and wherever I turn and whatever I see about your business you are repeating the same key message about who you are and what you do?
If you aren’t, don’t expect me to remember it and don’t expect me to position your business the way you need me to.
Your use of words
Language and how you use it is crucial to the perception you create. Consider the next three sentences then tell me what they convey to you about each company:
- It is apparent that our customers desire a quick, efficient and effective service delivered at the right price, so we strive to ensure we do just that.
- Our customers want a quick and efficient service at the right price: we deliver that.
- You want it cheap and fast, we do it.
Three sentences all saying similar things but in different ways. Each creates a different impression. Does all of your written and verbal communication convey the underlying impression you want it to convey?
I’m now looking at the images of your staff. Are they consistent with each other?
For example: Is everyone in business dress or casual dress? Are they all head and shoulders shots? Are they looking the same way? Do they have the same expression on their faces?
You and your team are so important in creating an impression of your business and the photos of you are part of that. Make sure they are saying what you want them to say.
Of course, the content your business puts out there is really important too. Talk about what you want to be known about.
E.g. If you’re a professional services firm, why do you have on your website a guest blog about the latest tech must buy? Why is your Twitter feed full of sports news? Is this what you want to be known for?
Your content is a vital part of your branding (as well as an essential part of your marketing plan) so let’s check that it reflects what you want and need people to remember and think about you.
Your choice of and use of logo, fonts, colours
Finally, let’s discuss what most people think of as branding; logo, fonts, colours.
Do you have one, consistent visual presence that is reinforced and repeated across all of your marketing material? Or are you using different fonts and colours depending on who produced it and what they fancied doing at the time?
Inconsistency of your professional image shows either that the person in charge of your marketing has a lack of attention to detail or is a bit chaotic.
Is this the impression you wish to create?
Your branding – a key part in building your market positioning
As you can see, branding is a huge and important part of your marketing. It helps people make an instant impression about your business. It helps them remember you. It helps them mentally “file” you in the right place. And it speaks volumes about the type of business you are.
Be like those savvy business owners and take control of your branding so that your business creates the impression you need it to create.
Thank you for having these five conversations with me. I appreciate your time. I hope that you have found them interesting and useful. Now you’ve done all this, you can develop your Strategic Marketing Plan and have real clarity about where you want your business to go.
If you’d like help doing this, then please contact me as I’d love to help.
Kara Stanford is an award-winning Strategic Marketing Consultant based in Hampshire.