Building a strong Brand plays a key role in the development of every successful business. If your brand is not working for your business or you need to communicate a change in direction, then investing in building a new brand can be an effective strategy.
It is important to be very clear about your reasons for investing in a new brand and what type of branding project is most appropriate for your business before embarking upon a branding project. This will ensure that you have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with your new brand and, consequently, how it will help to improve your business.
To help you understand the basics of branding your business, we have created a set of questions designed to encourage you think about the foundations of your business and, therefore, your new brand.
We recommend that you take time to consider your answer to each question carefully. If you have difficulty answering any of them then that is highlighting an area that you may not have considered – don’t ignore it – spending time working through it now will help you to reap the benefits in the future.
The first step in creating a brand for an existing business is to ensure that you have a very clear understanding of why you want to create a new brand your business. The following are some of the most common reasons businesses invest in building a new brand.
Change of direction. If you are targeting new market or introducing new products or services, changing you brand can signal that change to the market. You may also create product-specific brands.
Change of ownership. Changing the ownership of a business is one of the most critical events that a business can go though. Done properly, re-branding can help this process by communicating the change of ownership to the market.
Poor performance. If your business is not performing as well as it should and you have taken steps to improve its performance, then re-branding can be a useful way to communicate these improvements to your marketplace.
Tired brand. If your brand no longer represents your business effectively in its current marketplace, a brand rejuvenation project can help realign it and make your business more relevant to your customers.
Having gained an understanding of why you want to invest in creating a new brand for your business. There are three basic categories:
Rebranding a business is the process of creating a new brand identity for a business that already has a brand. This is a serious step for any business to take and to be successful, the reason for rebranding must be based on clear business needs and on a sound business strategy. Looking at rebranding as a ‘magic wand’ that will somehow transform an ailing business is a dangerous and potentially disastrous supposition to make.
Brand Rejuvenation is the process of changing the ‘look and feel’ of your brand while leaving the brand/business foundations relatively untouched.
New Brand Creation is usually for new businesses that do not have a trading history but can be a useful approach for an existing business when introducing new products or services that are to be branded separately.
If you are still unsure which type of branding project it most suited to your situation, it may be worth undertaking a Brand Audit before embarking on a new branding project for your business.
Your brand should promote your business, connect with your customer base and differentiate you from your competitors in your market. In order to achieve this, you need to have a very clear understanding of what value your products/services add to your customers.
Consequently, the stock answers like “we make widgets” or “we sell widgets” won’t cut it. You need to define what you do in such a way that existing and prospective customers understand exactly what you do and, more importantly, how what you do will benefit them. In order words, what needs of your prospective customers are satisfied by the products/services you offer?
If you can’t answer this question, research your target market in order to understand the needs and concerns of your customers (both emotional and rational). Next, review your products/services in order to understand how they can best meet the needs of your target market.
If your products/services do not meet the needs of the customers in your target market you should either modify them to meet these needs or modify your business model to target a more appropriate market.
It can be useful to involve your existing customers in this process – ask them what they think that you do and what value your products/services add to them. This can be a highly illuminating process as you may find that customers are not aware of all of the products/services that you offer. It may also raise issues re your service quality which will help you to improve your business. Finally, it may raise opportunities to add new products./services that your clients would value.
When people in your organisation have a clear understanding of its overarching purpose they will be more motivated, make better decisions and, therefore, be more productive. It is, therefore, important for you to understand the purpose of your business and also to communicate that purpose clearly to all of the people involved with your business.
Do not confuse the purpose of your business with the question ‘what is it that you do?’ They are very different things. One way to understand what your purpose is, is to ask “in order to” to your answer to the ‘what do you do?’ question. Keep asking the “in order to” question until you get a statement that is clear and is inspirational to you, your employees, your customers and prospective customers.
Your purpose can often be used in its original form, or in a condensed form, as a tag line that can form part of your brand identity. For example, at BlueIce Brands, our tag line is “Creating Brands That Work” as this describes our purpose of creating brands that will work in the way that our clients want. It is for this reason that we put a great deal of effort into understanding our client’s business as well as their aims and objectives before creating their brand.
If you have a clear understanding of your purpose it is worth checking to ensure that your stakeholders, especially your employees, understand it and are committed to acting in ways that support it.
When creating a new brand for your business it is important set out your goals and objectives for the future. This effectively sets the destination for where you want your business to be at some point in the future.
This is an important building block for both your business and for your brand because unless you know where you are going, you will not be able to make plans for the direction and growth of your business. Remember the old adage – fail to plan, plan to fail!
Think carefully about the short, medium and long-term aspirations that you have for your business and categorise them as follows:
Objectives – short-term, usually 1-3 years in the future
Goals – medium term, usually 3-5 years in the future
Vision – long-term, usually over 5 years in the future
Please note that these three categories do not stand alone – they should to be linked to each other so that attaining your objectives leads to achieving your goals which, in turn, helps to attain your vision.
Once you have set and committed to these targets you should put plans in place to take action to achieve them.
For further information, visit our Business Development division website – www.BlueIceBusiness.co.uk.
A business and, therefore, its brand is like a person in so much as it is made up of beliefs and values which determines how it behaves in different situations. When building a brand it is, therefore, crucial to have a clear understanding of the values and ethos that will guide your business.
Consequently, it is important to establish a set of values that act as the moral compass that guides your business as it grows, creating a stronger business with clear direction, as well as helping to define your corporate identity. If you already have a strong set of values, then it can be useful to ensure that they are clearly understood and followed within your business.
The culture of your organisation (which is driven by its values and ethos) plays a critical role, not only in shaping your new brand identity, but in building the reputation of your brand over time. It is important to ensure that the culture of your business supports and communicates your values.
As new people are employed and others leave there is a risk that the values and ethos of the business are diluted or even changed over time. These changes can result in a disconnect between your brand promise and the product/service delivery which can have an adverse effect on your brand’s reputation. It is, therefore, important to takes steps to ensure that your culture remains consistent as your business grows.
Remember, clear values supported by a strong culture will create a strong brand.
Your target market is the group of customers that your marketing efforts are aimed towards. The more clearly you understand your target market, the more your marketing materials will appeal to the people in your target market, thereby generating a better response rate. Consequently, a well-defined target market is not only a critical element of your marketing strategy but also plays a significant role in developing your brand and your business.
Target markets tend to be defined by market segmentation including geographic, demographic, psychographic (attitudes, values, and lifestyles), product-related, etc. Your product/service will determine your target market and vice-versa.
Having identified and defined your ideal target market, compare it to the markets in which your existing customers operate. If there is a discrepancy between your actual market and your target market, think carefully about why that is the case and how you will transition from one to the other.
The next phase in your brand and marketing strategy is to determine how your new brand will differentiate your business from your competitors in your target market(s).
Your differentiation strategy will be an important factor in developing your new brand. When done well your brand can become the key differentiator in your marketplace.
Look carefully at your current customers and identify the ones that are ideally suited for your business, both now and in the future. You may, for example, look at how much they spend, how profitable their business is to you, are they repeat customers or one-off buyers, can they provide introductions to more customers, what are their ethical standards, etc.
Remember the elements and factors that make your ideal customer will be unique to your business so the information that you consider will be specific to your business.
Once you have identified the factors that make up an ideal customer, look at how many of your existing customers fit that criteria. If that number is high, consider how you can attract more of the same. If it is low, consider why your marketing activities are attracting the wrong type of customer and what actions you can take to rectify it.
Once you have a clear understanding of what makes an ideal customer for your business, the next step is to describe what the ‘look like’. Giving your ideal customers ‘personas’ will help you to gain a clear picture of your target audience and will enable you to better understand the needs, wants and concerns of your existing and prospective customers.
This, in turn, will help you to develop a brand with associated visual elements that are designed to appeal to your target audience. It will also help when developing marketing materials since you will be able to create designs and write copy aimed specifically at your ideal customer.
To create these personas, gather information about your best customers and then describe them in as much detail as you can. The exact nature of the information you need to consider will depend on who your ideal customer is. For example, clients of a large professional services firm will have a totally different persona to those of a local hairdresser.
Remember that your ideal customer may well be a company rather than an individual. In this case you can consider what it would be like if it was a person and thereby give the company a persona.
All of the work you have done to this point has been laying the foundations of your new brand. The information gathered will be used to create a strong visual identity for your business that is aligned with your business goals and values and is focused on your target market(s) and ideal customers.
Your visual identity generally comprises your business name, a logo and a colour scheme. These are the visual elements if your brand and are what people see and, therefore, most associate with your business. It is, therefore, important to get this right by creating a visual identity for your business that is in keeping with your goals and ideals and is supported by your brand foundations.
When creating the visual elements of your new brand there are a number of things you should consider: Do you want a logo to represent your brand or simply the business/brand name? What colours best represent your brand? If you want a logo, what shapes best represent your brand? It can also be useful to consider which brands you like and which you dislike – either within or out with your industry. Note that this is not to copy the ones you like but to give the brand designer an idea of the route to take when developing your brand.
When working with a brand designer you should give them a very clear design brief that sets out all of the information that you have collated to this point.
At BlueIce Brands, we work with you throughout the process so we have a clear understanding of your business before creating the visual identity for your brand.
The Brand Voice of your business is how the character of your brand is communicated through the words you use and the text you write. You can think of it as your visual identity in words rather than pictures.
Speaking to your customers (either verbally or in writing) with a consistent tone of voice will help reinforce your business’ character and clarify its offering.
Managing the written tone of voice is a key part of achieving a unified character across all your communications, both internal and external, so that it feels like it is coming from a single source. Please note that these written communications include your website, e-mail and social media.
The easiest way to create your brands tone of voice is to consider it in relation to the personality of your brand. If your business or brand was a person, what would they be like? how would they speak? what style of language would they use? etc.
A believable tone of voice has to be grounded in reality. It is, for example, far easier to stick to a tone of voice if it is similar to they way you habitually write or speak. For example, if your business is no-nonsense and ‘all business’, your tone of voice is likely to be more formal and business-like. Conversely, if your business is dynamic and ‘fun loving’ then your tone of voice will be less formal.
Take a snap-shot of all of the written communication that is taking place within your business. Do they have a consistent tone of voice? Is the tone of voice consistent with your brand identity?
If the tone of voice of your communications are inconsistent and/or do not match your brand identity then take steps to ensure that any issues are corrected.
Developing a new brand for your business is an expensive process, whether that be in monetary value, time invested or, most likely, both. Consequently, it makes sense to protect your investment.
We have written a number of FAQ’s about protecting your brand that will give you an idea of some of the options that are available to you. The cost of these options can vary from being free to being relatively expensive.
The basic rule of thumb is to take as many steps and precautions as to you to protect your brand while it is being created and can be changes, rather than waiting until after it has been launched when it is more difficult and costly to make amendments.
If you already have protection in place for and of the elements of your previous brand then you should consider which, if any’ elements of that protection can be carried forward into your new brand identity. You should also consider the elements of protection that are redundant and what action you need to take to ensure that you no longer invest in protection that is no longer required.