Having a strong brand accelerates the growth of small businesses. When you have a strong reputation, it is easier to generate leads, increases conversion rates, empowers you to command a premium price, attracts superior talent, and assists in obtaining high value partnerships including potential investors. Sounds great, right? Where do you sign up?
Great brands are not built overnight or in a single transaction or some viral stunt. You must put time and effort into nurturing and growing your brand. To do this, you have to start with the right foundation: recognizable elements that resonate with consumers, partners, and employees and create a strong mental association with your company.
Here are the five essential elements of your brand identity:
This sounds like a very simple place to start, but the reality is: most entrepreneurs pick their company name based on personal preference, which isn’t always best for your target audience. If your company is named after your last name or something that has personal meaning for you but doesn’t really make sense in the context of your industry, you may want to consider updating it. Your legal name and the name you go to market with can be different, whether you add an official d/b/a or simply handle it like a brand. One of the most famous examples is, of course, Federal Express becoming FedEx to embrace how customers referred to the company. For small businesses, changing your name early in the game can not only be less costly but can generate great opportunity to tell your story more clearly.
One of the most common things a company does once it settles on a few options for the go-to-market brand name is to secure as close to a “pure URL” as possible. Sometimes the availability of reasonable domain can be a deciding factor in what will be the
An often-overlooked brand identity asset is your corporate phone number. Evolving personal preferences overshadow the proven fact that for businesses, being contacted by phone is the most productive way to connect with prospects and customers. Phone calls not only provide immediacy, they are 10-15x more likely to convert than web forms and can result in 500% more revenue due to the ability to easily ask nuanced questions, create rapport, and build trust. Custom phone numbers like those offered by RingBoost are a tremendous way to stand out in the competitive landscape, whether a vanity number that spells a brand-related word or an easy-dial number that uses a pattern to promote memorability. Don’t let the phone company pick the first number off the top of the pile for you – be smart and thoughtful about this important means of brand connection.
Your company logo is the element most often linked with the phrase “brand identity”. It is the centerpiece of your visual identity and is a focal point on all communications, from websites to branded apparel, and everything in between. One of the biggest mistakes companies make when developing their logo is skipping over the strategy part and heading straight into creative – throwing designs against the wall to see what sticks. It takes a process that should be part science and part art and turns it completely subjective. Instead, you should start with a written creative brief about what you want the logo to convey and any do’s and don’ts that you need your designer to follow. Then, when evaluating designs, you can first filter out ones that don’t meet your strategic criteria and then focus on likes and dislikes with what’s left.
Graphic Design Standards
Building off your logo, you need to develop a set of rules about how your brand appears visually. This includes typography, imagery, and graphic elements. The key to building a memorable presence is to be consistent, especially across different media. Your online presence (website, banner ads, email campaigns, etc.) should match your offline communications (business cards, apparel, advertisements, truck wraps, etc.) to create a solid association with your brand. It takes repeated exposure before audiences can fully take in everything you are sharing, so it is important to create consistent representation to soak up all of the positive brand recognition.
Speaking of positive brand recognition, social media plays a critical role in building and communicating your brand image. Crafting the right message is just as important as targeting the right audience. Choosing which social media platforms to engage your audience will help to focus your efforts and each platform has analytics that can shed light on how effective your campaigns are. Facebook is one of the most successful advertising platforms available and by taking advantage of a few simple Facebook ad hacks, businesses are able to increase the effectiveness of their social media advertising efforts.
Having all the pieces of your brand identity well-thought-out and well-coordinated isn’t just about the impact it has on your audiences. It also makes it much less expensive to amplify your message. The more aligned, consistent, and clear your brand is, the less effort it takes to reach the people you want to reach. Make sure you have all the crucial brand pieces in place before you start spending on pushing your message out to make sure you maximize the return on your marketing investment.