6 Branding Tips for Small to Medium Businesses

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6 branding tips for small to medium companies

When it comes to branding, many can’t see the forest for the trees. That is, all too often our idea of a brand is based on its appearance, from its logo to its advertising. But as we saw in Branding 101, there’s much more to a brand than how it looks. That’s where building a genuine brand comes in.

What makes a brand genuine, and why is it important?

A genuine brand is one in which the actions of a company match its outward appearance. For this to happen, the employees of the company have to not only understand the brand, but take it to heart. Brands are built on perceptions. Perceptions are created through every interaction we have with a company, person, or brand. When those perceptions are consistent we grow to feel we know and trust who or what we are dealing with. A genuine brand is about establishing that trust.

We’ve all had the disheartening experience of being lied to. When a company’s words diverge from their actions or when a company makes promises it can’t keep the brand is damaged. When their advertising is at odds with their products the brand is damaged. When we interact with an employee and they don’t believe in their company, don’t understand or care about the brand, or are just collecting a check, the brand is damaged. When the website functions poorly the brand is damaged. The brand is damaged because our perceptions, our experience of the brand is confused. A genuine brand is strong because our perceptions and experiences of the brand are consistent and reinforce one another, at every touch point, every time.

How to Build a Genuine Brand:

1. Base Your Brand in Reality

Creating a strong, genuine brand begins with an honest self-assessment. It has to be based on making promises you can fulfill, and it has to be rooted in a clear understanding of what your customers, employees and partners really want. It can be aspirational, but only if the aspirations are realistic, achievable goals.

2. Build Your Brand from the Inside Out

For your brand to grow strong, your employees have to understand it and embrace it. That’s why achievable goals are so important. If employees think the goals of a company are pie-in-the-sky and divorced from what they can deliver or what your customers really want, they won’t be able to support it.

3. Don’t Talk it, Live it

Make sure you deliver on what you say. From your advertising to your sales and at every other touchpoint align your actions with your words. If they don’t align, you need to change what you are saying, producing, or what you are doing until they do.

4. Get Everyone Behind it

Take the time to get everyone onboard. Your employees need to really understand your company’s brand and how it translates into their roles, responsibilities and behaviors. They need to see that the people presenting the brand believe it and support it. Make it credible by tying it to concrete actions they can relate to and grasp. Another critical element in building a successful brand is hiring. Does this prospective employee’s temperament and experience build your brand or undermine it? Once you have developed a clear idea of what your company’s brand is, new hires know what they are signing up for.

5. Give it Time

Genuine brands do not happen with a wishlist and a snap of the fingers. It is hard work. But the value of creating, growing and maintaining a genuine brand is that you build trusting relationships with everyone involved, from employees and partners to customers or anyone else who interacts with your brand. That trust can ensure the health of your business, so earning it is time well spent.

6. You’re Already Doing it

All of the above dynamics are already taking place, whether you are conscious about managing them or not. The repercussions of paying attention to these dynamics accrue in your company’s favor. Doing the work to create and build your brand brings additional clarity to managing your business, your professional relationships, and your opportunities. This is hard work that you are already doing, so the benefits of giving it your full attention are real, impactful and rewarding.

Creating a brand can be a lot of work. We hope our branding tips have been helpful. We’ve also put together a brand planning worksheet to make it easier. Download it for free here.

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