Branding is more than a logo. It's a long-term journey of discovery that unleashes who your company is, what your company does, and how it communicates to potential consumers. Branding as a journey takes experiences and shapes a perception that targets a business’ specific agenda. It molds the thoughts and feelings of the buying public to ascertain whether your company has what the consumer is looking for.
If your company doesn’t connect with your target audience then you’ve got to fix those issues and fill those gaps. Branding reflects a company's true identity and is the essence of your business. Remember, at the end of the day, the customer is always right. Here are a few tips for taking care that your brand is well understood by your audience.
Evolve your brand into the digital world.
“The concept of branding comes to the forefront in digital vs. in the background, as it was in traditional branding and advertising,” says the Museum of Modern Art’s Julia Hoffman at a New York salon introducing American Express Open Forum’s Project RE:Brand (a web series that connects five design and branding experts with five small business owners to examine, rehabilitate, and revamp their brand identities.) “Branding never mattered more than in today’s age, because whether big or small a brand will be now accessible from everywhere in every possible channel imaginable.”
Give your brand a foundation and framework.
Your company’s brand needs to be the whole package, have the whole formula. Many businesses have part of that formula: They have the product. They have the passion. They have the soul. But what is missing is the framework that illustrates their overall identity. The who, what and why. A great product or service can only go so far without a foundation, key elements and the necessary tools to present the world with a solid brand.
Branding isn’t only for large multi-national corporations.
Your brand today is one voice with a tremendous international platform. With a website, a blog, a Twitter and Facebook profile, the global market is accessible to your company whether you are a one-man band or a team of many, whether you work from a home office or rent in a corporate office building.
Understand your brand’s timeline. Willy Wong of NYC & Company doesn’t just focus on what tourists access when they arrive in New York, but also what resources they access before their travels.
“The need for branding only increases as our media landscape continues to fragment,” says Wong. “We’ve adapted to life with messages directed at us offline, online, on-air, on hold, on-the-go, etc. Companies, organizations, and people looking to build their image and connect with audiences must consider all touch-points and timelines. In the digital space, speed and responsiveness are expectations that brands must meet to stay relevant in conversations and maintain authority in their narrative.” Think about the different versions of your brand.
For Wong, the city of New York is a brand, but it is a brand with 8.4 million versions. Honor those voices and ideas and understand that you can’t control everything about your brand. Pay attention to how people discuss your brand via social media. All press is good press doesn’t always translate with social media. Crowdsourcing, the public vouching for your brand, is a much-treasured support. After all, word of mouth is the best and most valuable distribution for marketing a brand. On the other hand, having third parties grow your brand and develop your identity also means you lose control of your brand. Asking the public for help is risky but it also engages them.
Accept that you’re not in control of your brand.
Your company sets the directions of the brand. Your audience determines your actual brand image. Branding is an ongoing evolution of marketing, research and conversation. Take the time to listen long and hard at the conversations from your audience to understand their real impressions. If your audience has a different view of you than what you intend, then you need to rehabilitate and revitalize your brand.
Keep up those interpersonal relationships and engagements.
The best interactions are born from one-on-one conversations between executives, employees, suppliers, and customers.