Branding Your Business Requires Homework

My husband and I have worked hard to build the business. Now we are learning more about how marketing can help us grow. Everyone we talk to says that we have to start with a clear image and message,. As you can tell, we don’t have the identity of the company defined.

Thoughts of the Day: A picture does speak a thousand words. Give your business a physical representation by figuring out what image best conveys what your company stands for. Work through a series of exercises to get clear about messaging. Decide on a symbol that represents the company now and for the future. Be consistent in the use of identifiers.

Bring consistency to what your company stands for by developing your company’s identity. Think about how some pictures help you get in touch with the personalities of the people in the photo. Make your company image represent the unique personality of your company.

Customers want to know what your business is about. Use color, image, and messaging to give customers a snapshot. Unify. Inform. Identify. Engage. Electrify. Represent. Visualize. These are all words you might want to consider when working on your company’s identity.

Define the market sectors your company operates within – professional services, retail, government contractor, manufacturing, product distribution. If you’re not sure how to define the sector, look up your company’s sic code. Then look at other companies in the same sector to gather ideas.

Start to create your own messaging by putting into words what your company is all about. Develop a mission statement that explains the purpose of the business
• Gather customer quotes that explain the value they receive from your company
• Ask employees to contribute statements about what they believe the company stands for
• Ask key vendors to submit 5 words that best define what they know about the company
• Ask the founders why they got into the business in the first place
• Ask everyone to brainstorm what the business’ future is all about
Put all of that information into the hat, and begin to pull out words and phrases that can be used to create a one-paragraph representation of the business. Make sure the description ties together where the company has come from and where it is going next, who it serves and why.

Once you have a clear written understanding of the company’s purpose in the form of a mission and vision statement, it’s time to turn that into a picture that says it all. Look for a core symbol that fits the written description you’ve created. Decide if that symbol should be contemporary, formal, humorous, ancient, off-beat, classic, etc., depending upon the tone you want to convey. Pick colors that send a message.

Consider hiring people to help you with the design of a logo, layout of letterhead and digital imaging. One of the big mistakes many business owners make is trying to do it themselves even though they have had no formal education on effective use of colors, layout and artistic design. The last thing you want is to put out a bad design that backfires in terms of what you are trying to convey.

Develop multiple concepts. Show customers, employees and key vendors various designs and ask them what they see. Don’t go with what you like, go with what your customers and employees identify with. Take enough time and expend the effort necessary to build an icon that will last for many years. Give your customers a reason to select your company and pay a premium when they do so. Give employees something to be proud of and to rally around.

Once you’ve decided on the mission, the logo and layout, be consistent in their use. Customers want re-assurance that your company is well organized. Build customer and employee confidence by demonstrating that you understand how important it is to properly represent your company.

Looking for a good book? Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, by Al Ries, Jack Trout, and Philip Kotler