Branding Strategies – 55 Tips for Business Owners

Branding Strategies Cover

Branding Strategies

Here at Nonstop Signs we love focusing branding strategies. So much of what we do revolves around helping our clients promote their brands. Unfortunately, branding strategies are a complex topic that many business owners struggle to grasp fully. That’s why we put together this list of tips for developing successful branding strategies. Inside you’ll find 55 tips on every aspect of branding from development to promotion and even rebranding. It’s our sincere hope that this article will make the muddy waters of branding strategies a bit clearer for everyone who reads it. Now, let’s dive in.

Define your Branding Strategies

Branding is one of those terms that will elicit a different definition from nearly every person you ask.  But, for this article, we’re going to use Ross Kimbarovsky’s definition. He says:

“A brand is the total of the experiences your customers and potential customers have with your company. A strong brand communicates what your company does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility. Your brand lives in everyday interactions with your customers, the images you share, the messages you post on your website, the content of your marketing materials, and in your posts on social networks.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Your branding strategies should be the foundation upon which your product development, marketing efforts, and frankly your entire business.  Companies with a sharp brand image like Apple, Coca-Cola, or Nike can charge far more for their products than their competitors because of what they represent in the minds of their customers. When people buy an iPhone for example, it’s not necessarily because it’s the best product available and certainly not because it’s the most affordable option. The reasons why people love Apple products are what they represent, simplicity in design and usage paired with a particular lifestyle image.  Developing that kind of brand recognition doesn’t happen overnight. However, it requires extensive research, detailed planning, and consistent long-term implementation. And of course, some tried and specific branding strategies. Thankfully, that's what this article is all about.

Now, before we go any further, let’s take a moment to find out what successful branding strategies entail.
Hubspot published an excellent article on the critical components of a successful strategy that I’ve summarized below. If you’d like to learn more, I strongly recommend reading their entire article.

The 7 Keys to Successful Branding Strategies

Purpose

Now it may seem at first glance that your goal is to make money, that’s the purpose of every business. However, regarding branding strategies, your mission needs to be something more than that, something that your target market can relate. Mark Di Somma over at Branding Strategy Insider says that there are two types of brand purpose, functional and intentional.

The success of a functional purpose is measured strictly by economic means, how many units you can sell or how large your market share is.

The success of an intended purpose, on the other hand, is measured in both commercial success and the improvements to a company’s community or humanity in general.

Both styles of purpose have their strengths and weaknesses; functional will generally do better with B2B while intentional will fair better with B2C.

There is no single right answer to the direction you should take. Your business’ purpose is a personal choice and will require a lot of contemplation.  See below for the rest of our branding strategies.

Consistency

An integral part of a successful implementation of your branding strategies is consistency. Your brand should have a recognizable voice that shines through in all communication with the public whether it be an advertising campaign or customer service email. When you create content, it should be instantly recognizable and stick to topics that relate to your brand image.

The quickest way to sink your branding strategies is by making them scattered and inconsistent. Branding isn’t about being everywhere and appealing to everybody; it’s about carving out a niche and becoming a leader in that one specific area. Focus on doing one thing better than anybody else, consistently, then build off of that success.

Emotion

Connecting with your target audience on an emotional level will ensure a long-term relationship. People aren’t generally rational or logical creatures; we’re emotional beings that prioritize feelings over consistent needs almost every time. If you can make your audience feel like they can relate to your brand on a personal level, you will turn customers into brand ambassadors with ease and build a real community around your brand.

Harley Davidson is one of the best examples for successfully reaching your customers on an emotional level. You can buy a motorcycle of equal quality for half the price of a Harley, the reason they succeed is that they make people feel like they’re part of something bigger. The attitude and lifestyle that a Harley Davidson represents, the nostalgia, that’s what people buy into, not the product itself.

Flexibility

Flexibility may seem counterintuitive to remaining consistent with your branding strategies, but it isn’t. People change, and target audiences evolve as generations do, you don’t market to “generation x” the same way you do to “millennials,” likewise, you don’t market to “generation x” the same way you did twenty years ago. What this means for your branding efforts is that while your brand messaging, your purpose should mostly stay the same, the way you present that image to the world needs to evolve in the same way that people change.

Employee Involvement

Successful branding strategies live and die on employee involvement, every member of your team needs to be a brand ambassador. Every single employee needs to understand and be passionate about your brand messaging. It’s easy to get tunnel vision and focus solely on your strategies for turning customers into brand ambassadors, but, without a consistent voice and consistent brand messaging coming from your team, or waste those efforts.

Loyalty

Loyalty is as much a goal of branding as it is a key component of successful branding strategies. Being consistent with your branding efforts and connecting with people on an emotional level will help to build your brand awareness, but those things alone will not build brand loyalty. If you want to foster brand loyalty, then you need to reward your brand ambassadors. Whether it be a simple thank you email or something flashier like exclusive access to new content, there needs to be a reason for your fans to continue promoting your brand.

Competitive Awareness

If you don’t know what your competitors are up to, how can you be sure that you’re doing a better job? It’s essential that you take the time to find out what your competitor’s branding strategies are before you make your own and that you continue to keep tabs on them as those strategies evolve. If you have a large budget, consider a Building Wrap where you put graphics outside the convention center or hotel.

 

Define Your Brand

Start with your core values.

When you start creating your branding strategies, before you focus on what your audience needs and before you start looking into what the competition is doing, you need to take the time to adequately define what you want your brand to be, what you want it to represent. You need to start by identifying your core values.  Start by asking yourself these two questions:

  • What is your company’s purpose? – Does it include what problem you are trying to solve, and what you are hoping to create?
  • What do you and your company value- is it commercial gains or changing the world?

Understand your strengths and weaknesses.

Next, it’s time to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Start by asking these questions:

  • What makes your company different than your competitors?  Includes what you do better and even areas you can improve.
  • What do your most satisfied customers say about you, and how about the least happy? – Do you have a top compliment and a top complaint?
  • If you had to create an attack ad against your own company, what would you say?

When you’re identifying your strengths, try to think of how they affect your customers on an emotional level. Do you provide peace of mind or excitement, a feeling of inclusivity or exclusivity?  The most successful brands reach their audience on an emotional level, so start trying to find ways for your brand to do that from the start.

Set a goal for your branding strategies.

So many intelligent people develop branding strategies without a clear goal or vision of success in mind, don’t be one of those people!

Whether you’re just starting out or rebranding an old company, it’s important to know what your goals are and what success is.

Ask yourself, what is the long-term goal of your branding efforts? Do you want to corner a new market or reconnect with your current one?

Is success simply increased revenue or increased market share? Having the answer to these questions before you get started will prevent you from investing your time and assets in the wrong direction.

Find Your Audience

Make a client ‘wish list.’  Before you start trying to identify your ideal target audience, make a client ‘wish list.’  Ask yourself what type of customer you’re looking for or what type of customer you think would suit your business.  Think about the ideal demographic, the age, gender, interests, job titles, be as specific as possible, then refine it as you go.

Analyze your customer list.

If you’re developing a new branding strategy for an existing business, dig into the current customer list.  Identify your majority demographic, then dig deeper and find out what they’re interested in, what social media they use, and where they shop.  Most importantly, try to identify the main reason why they chose to do business with you in the first place and who else is competing for their attention in your market. Your customer list is an invaluable asset to your branding strategy, take the time to get to know it.

Analyze competitor’s customer list.

Whether you’re in business already or just starting up, you should have an idea of who your competition is.  Read the reviews on their website and external review sites – and don’t forget to check out their social media connections. When you identify your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses you can position your branding strategies accordingly.

Identify the ‘big issue.’

When you identify the ‘big issue’ that drives people to seek the product or service that you’re selling, you’ll find it easier to create branding strategies that resonate with your target audience.

Look at your brand from the customer perspective.

The way you view your brand is very different from the way your customers and potential customers will.  Sarah Schmidt says, “To truly understand your customer base, you must take an objective point of view. You have to be willing to look dispassionately at your brand, your product, your product category, and your target audience.”  Such a useful exercise for trying to identify your target audience.  Try to imagine that you’ve never heard of your company and that you’re trying to solve your ‘big issue.’  Then evaluate your potential solutions and try to identify flaws in your business.

 

Find out what sets off their BS detector.

Jayson Demers said it best when he stated, “We live in a world of skeptics. [and] It’s easy to understand why: we’re bombarded with advertisements and brand messages wherever we go. Online, on TV, on the sidewalk. Most fill these invasive sales pitches with claims that are hard to verify. In many cases, they fill advertisements with outright lies.”  If you want to avoid the BS detector, you need to back up all claims with proof. Do some research into successful ads in your niche to identify the correct tests to use.

 

Get fresh insight.

It doesn’t matter how well you know your niche or how long you’ve been doing business; it always helps to get some fresh insight when you’re trying to identify your target audience. Sometimes experience can have a negative impact when detecting changes in your audience.  People are habit forming and generally resistant to change. Getting a fresh mind to try and identify your target audience may reveal differences that you’ve overlooked.

 

Create a customer profile.

Now that you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to personalize them.  Combine all of the data you’ve gathered to create your ideal customer.  Write a customer profile, give it a name, age, relationship status, interests, etc.  You can use this profile to influence all of your branding and marketing decisions.  Having a pattern to reference instead of just a pile of statistics when making branding and marketing decisions will make it easier to visualize your clients and their needs.

 

Be specific!

While you identify your target audience and create your customer profile be as specific as possible, every little detail counts.  Now, you could argue that being too specific will limit your reach, but that’s not the case.
When you try to be everywhere and sell to everybody, your message becomes inconsistent and your brand, hard to relate to.  Choosing instead to focus on a particular target will ensure that you reach your audience and turn them into brand ambassadors.

Brand Positioning

Identify your competition and their branding strategies.

Sit down and brainstorm, write down who you think your most significant competitors are. Then, ask around to see if your associates can think of anything else.  Don’t hesitate to include businesses that are ‘out of your league.’ You may not be competition for them yet, but they are your competition, and analyzing them should offer valuable insight into your market.  Lastly, be sure to do a google search and see who ranks well in your niche. Once you’ve identified your competitors, it’s time to perform a SWOT test for your branding strategies.

If you haven’t heard of a SWOT test before, it merely stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  When you identify your competitors SWOT, it will help you develop a better understanding of your brand’s SWOT.

Susan Gunelius points out, “Often, big opportunities and gaps rise to the top quickly in a SWOT analysis as do your own brand strategy’s missing links that you need to close up before you move forward.”  The reason this happens so frequently when performing the test on a competitor instead of on your brand is that you’re looking at their brand objectively.

 

Visit all of their online properties.

So much of our modern branding efforts are focused online, so your competitive brand analysis will be quite incomplete if you don’t visit your competitor’s online properties.  Visit their website, read a few of their blog posts, find out who they follow on social media, leave no stone unturned.  Having a complete understanding of where your competitors are online and what they’re doing will allow you to position your online branding efforts accordingly.

 

Secret shop.

Want to be a spy for a day? Go secret shopping at your competitor's stores.  Going through the process of purchasing from your competitors will give you a much better understanding of their customer service strengths and weaknesses.

 

Identify their brand strategies.

As you research your competitors, try to find out precisely what their branding strategy is.  What’s their tagline and critical messaging? What are their goals and values? Who exactly are they trying to reach?  Take the time to write down a branding strategy template for each of your competitors will help you to visualize their brand and will make it easier when the time comes to create your own.

 

List their differences and similarities to your brand strategies.

Make a list of the differences and similarities between your competitor's brand.  Once you have that list, try to look at it from a customer perspective and narrow it down to the fundamental differences.  What you’re looking for is the biggest reasons for potential clients to choose your brand or your competitor’s. Those reasons will become your key differentiators.  While your differences are essential and will be the keys to your competitive positioning, don’t neglect the similarities. Julia Markham-Cameron remarks, “it’s tempting to jump right into how you differ from your competition.

However, this is just one piece of the puzzle: you also need to figure out your similarities. If you and your main competition all offer the same central services, those probably aren’t the facets of your business you want to highlight. “

 

Create emotional differentiators.

Now that you know what makes your brand different, it’s time to find out why that should matter to your customers.  Iconic brands like Apple, Nike, or Coca-Cola got to where they are today because they make emotional connections with their audience.  Humans are sensitive and often irrational creatures. Speak to their emotions, not their logic, and you’ll develop those strong relationships your brand needs to succeed.  Those insightful words come from John Parham who goes on to say, “Most consumers have already made up their minds about who is “better.” Take Volvo. Years ago, it carved out the “safe car” niche. If Volvo tried to say it was better than Mercedes, that’s a personal battle no amount of advertising might have won.”

Let’s face it unless you’re starting a business on ground-breaking new technology; chances are there’s already a company in your market.  It’s hard to convince people right out of the gate that your brand is the all-around “best” brand in its market. Like we said earlier, people are skeptical, and you need time to build up proof.  So instead of trying to beat established competitors at their own game, point out the strengths in your difference and carve out your niche.

Create Your Brand Package

Now that you’ve defined your brand, found your target audience, and identified your competition, it’s time to begin building your brand package.

 

Start with your brand messaging.

Your brand messaging will consist of your Mission, Brand Promise, and Positioning Statements.  These three statements will be the pillars upon which your entire brand strategy rests.

 

Mission:

Your mission statement should reflect your brand’s core values and its purpose.  The internal pillar of your brand messaging, the statement that will guide your team members and employees.  Ask yourself, what is your primary goal? What are your defining characteristics? What are you striving to provide for your clients? – and – How do you want your brand to be perceived?

 

Promise:

Your brand promise is your tagline, and gears towards your customers.  Lee Frederiksen, PH.D. explains that “a brand promise must achieve the following three goals: It must convey a compelling benefit, and it must be authentic & credible.”

 

Positioning:

Your positioning statement needs to reflect the key difference between you and your competitors.  Ask yourself what the single most significant reason for choosing your brand over another is.  Cult Branding has an excellent template for creating your positioning statement.  For [target customers], [company name] is the [market definition] that delivers [brand promise] because only [company name] is [reason to believe].  Now, you should already know who your target customers are, and you just wrote your brand promise, but what about the other two?  The market definition is simply the category or market that your brand caters to and the reason to believe is the “proof” behind your promise or the main reason to believe your promise.

One good example of a positioning statement that follows those guidelines nearly to the letter is Amazon’s 2001 positioning statement.  “For World Wide Web users who enjoy books, Amazon.com is a retail bookseller that provides instant access to over 1.1 million books. Unlike traditional book retailers, Amazon.com provides a combination of extraordinary convenience, low prices, and comprehensive selection.”  As write your messaging and build your brand, be sure to keep these tips in mind.

 

Be authentic.

Thanks to the “golden age of advertising” and the dawn of the internet, people’s BS detectors are running at an all-time high.  If you try to present your brand as something it isn’t, people are going to pick up on that right away and take their business elsewhere.  Successful brands hinge on the relationships that they build with their audience and time has proven, they don’t want to create a relationship with a liar.

Tell your story.

Creating your brand is a lot like making a character – and every memorable character has a good backstory. Ask yourself why you started this company in the first place? What did you hope to achieve for yourself and what were you striving to provide for your customers?  Not an easy task for most people and not something that you should whip up in five minutes on a cocktail napkin after work.  When you tell your story, you need to dig deep.

 

Be relatable.

When telling your story and writing most of the branding materials you need to focus on the human aspects, the things that people can relate.  Here are a few branding material giveaway ideas:

 

People don’t form relationships with companies; they create them with people. Your brand needs to feel like its person and evoke an emotional response from its audience.  Lewis Howes explains this nicely when he says, “Controversial movies are talked about a lot because they evoke our emotions. Brands are no different. Make sure you are relating to people’s emotional values such as sharing in their problems or showing empathy. Think of brands like Nike, which relates to its customers’ understanding that winning is difficult through its slogan “Just Do It.”

 

Be unique, don’t be a copycat.

The whole point of branding is to differentiate your business from its competitors so that it stands out in the minds of your target market. You can’t do that by directly copying another brand’s strategy.  With most business strategies it makes sense to copy what works, to learn from others mistakes, but things aren’t clear cut when it comes to branding.  While it’s good to look to the trendsetters like Apple or Nike for inspiration, trying to be those brands will be a recipe for disaster.

 

Branding Strategies - Funny

 

Personalize your brand.

Annetta Powell made the first remark when she said, “When you personalize your brand, you give consumers a reason to participate and engage with your brand for a lifetime.”  This point plays off the last one, brands that are relatable are (generally) successful. The easiest way to personalize your brand and make it relatable is to build a brand avatar.  Similar to the customer profile that you made. Give your brand a name, an age, interests, fears, the whole 9 yards. Make a personal profile for your brand.  Having a customer profile and brand avatar will allow you to visualize the interactions between your brand and its target audience much more effectively.

 

Create your brand voice.

Consistency is arguably the most critical aspect of successful branding. Google “Branding Strategies” or “Branding Tips” and nearly every single article will mention the importance of consistency.  The best way to ensure that your brand’s communication remains consistent is to develop a brand voice.  Your brand avatar and the message should influence your view. It should be a direct reflection of your brand’s personality.  Most importantly though, it must be applied to all communication from your online content to your advertisements and sales calls or customer service emails.  You need to ensure that every executive and employee has a firm grasp of your brand voice and use it to guide their customer interactions.  To learn more about developing and successfully implementing your brand voice, check out this informative and easy-to-use guide by Erika Heald at the Content Marketing Institute.

 

Elevator Pitch – 30, 60, 90 seconds

Jenna Hanington of Pardot offers a unique tip for simplifying your brand messaging called the “Elevator Pitch” in this article. Grab a stopwatch. Well, pull up the app on your phone and imagine you’re in an elevator with a potential customer – now, in 30, 60, and 90 seconds, summarize your brand messaging and pitch your brand. This exercise will force you to stick to the core of what your brand.  This exercise will force you to hold to the heart of what your brand represents really, and you may be surprised at your answers.

 

Design your logo.

Now, you may be wondering why logo creation is so far down the list, but there’s a good reason for it. Your logo should be a reflection of your brand, not the other way around.  A high-quality, memorable logo is a crucial asset to your branding efforts, but it’s hardly the most important part, nor should it be the first thing you work.  You can’t build your brand messaging around a logo; you need to ultimately define and understand your brand first, then work on your logo.  Moving on to the design tips. As I was writing this part of the article, I quickly came to realize that there were so many valuable pointers on a logo design that it warranted its section. So keep an eye out for it in the future. For now, I’ll list my top 3 logo design tips.

  1. Keep it clean and simple. – Your logo should be easily identifiable and highly functional. It needs to look just as good on a business card as a billboard and in color as black and white.
  2. Strive for something unique. – Use competitor’s logos for inspiration, but don’t be a copycat. Your logo should instantly identify your brand, not remind people of multiple brands.
  3. Color is key. – Choosing the wrong color scheme for your logo can send a conflicting message to your audience. Check out this infographic by The Logo Company to learn about “The Psychology of Color in Logo Design.”

Choose a color scheme.

While you’re working on the colors for your logo, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your brand’s overall color scheme. This one goes back to consistency.  When you create a dedicated color scheme to be used on ALL of your brand’s content, it will make it easier for your audience to recognize your content.  A unique color scheme that consistently applies to all content will allow your audience to identify your brand’s content before they see the logo.  As a bonus, whenever they look at a similar color scheme used, they’re going to think of your brand.  Simon McArdle wrote a useful color guide for companies to reference. I recommend giving it a read before you finalize your color scheme as it just might change your perception.

 

Create visual and written templates.

The last step in building your brand package, you should create visual templates for your landing pages, emails, and any other promotional materials. Once you have your visual models, write a few written templates for everyday tasks like sales emails, flyers, etc.  Over time your template library will expand, eventually be reaching the point where someone who knows nothing about your business could create content that is consistent with your brand.

Implement Your Strategy

Now that you’ve built your brand strategy, it’s time to implement it.

 

Set measurable goals.

We already covered the importance of setting goals earlier, but now it’s time to narrow it down to a specific, measurable goal.  I can’t stress enough that specificity is critical here. Venture Beat does an excellent job of illustrating this point in one of their branding tips articles by saying, “Instead of saying, “We want to make more money,” try “We want to increase our market share with rural females between 18- and 25-years-old.” A scattershot approach will be less effective than a tightly focused strategy and will make it harder for you to gauge your success.”  That’s just the thing about implementing your branding strategy without defining your goals- If you don’t know what success looks like, how can you tell if you’ve succeeded or failed.

 

Consistency is key!

Yes, I know, we’ve said this but, the importance of maintaining a consistent brand voice and messaging cannot overemphasize.  How do you ensure that your company promotes a consistent brand image? That’s simple, you just need to do the following.

 

Communicate with your team.

In an article by Dean Millson, he comments on the importance of communicating your branding strategy internally when he says, “Brands often focus most on communicating their strategy externally (to customers, suppliers, partners), yet things always fall over when there is a lack of clarity internally. Your people can’t be passionate and committed to your brand’s vision and purpose unless they truly understand it. When you’re focusing so much time and energy into communicating with your target audience effectively. It’s easy to get tunnel vision and forget about the internal aspect.  However, successful brands understand the importance of providing a complete “brand education” for their employees.  Take Wal-Mart for example, which provides video training complete with online testing and other resources about their brand strategy to employees.  That extra effort ensures that all Wal-Mart employees understand their brand messaging and use it to guide their customer interactions.

 

Make a schedule.

A schedule goes hand in hand with the goals that you’ve set and hopefully communicated to your team.  It’s easy to get so caught up in the daily operations that you forget to implement your strategy.  So, to prevent that from happening, schedule “Brand Review” dates into your calendar.  They can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly, schedule a date where you will review your branding efforts and goal progress, then make any necessary changes.

 

Get on Social Media for branding strategies.

With the explosion of social media use, it should come as no surprise that the practical application of social media will be a critical part of your branding efforts.  While I was researching social media tips for branding, it became abundantly clear that much like with logo design, social media branding would warrant its article.  So for the sake of longevity, we’ve included our top 3 social media branding tips below.

  1. Focus your efforts. – Chances are your target audience won't ever use your social media site.  Find out where they are and focus your efforts there. Michael Patterson of Quicksprout wrote a helpful article on social media demographics that makes a high starting point if you’re uncertain as to what platforms you should be using.
  2. Get active. – It’s common knowledge that the human attention span has been on the decline in recent years. Social Media posting has to be the epitome of that lack of attention.So keep this in mind. If you don’t post regularly, you will be forgotten.
  3. Interact with niche leaders. – You are not the first person to try and build an audience in a specific niche. Find out who the current leaders are in your niche and get in touch with them. Share their content or offer to write a post for them if they blog. Developing mutually beneficial relationships with niche leaders will fast-track the growth of your audience.

 

Build a community.

People want to feel included and like they’re part of something bigger. If your brand can provide that to them, then you’ve officially hit a home run.  Sara J at Duct Tape Marketing tells us, “Many of the world’s best brands, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Virgin, and Skype, spend modest sums on advertising and instead, focus on building and improving their communities. Those companies understand that if people trust a brand’s community, they will extend trust to the brand. If you take the time to build your community through social media online and events offline, you will win.

Refine Your Brand

While it would be nice if you could build and implement your strategy the call it a day, that’s not the case. Your brand is a fluid entity that will need to evolve as the world around it does.  To make that process a bit easier, follow the branding strategies below.  Make reviewing your brand as simple as possible.  For the most part, customers will not go out of their way to provide a review of your brand unless it’s a bad one. So, if you want to be sure that your brand is meeting its goals the way you’d hoped for, make your review process as comfortable as possible.  Keep the review process short and sweet, with a few clicks and as little effort required as possible.

 

Make your review requests non-intrusive.

Let’s face it; annoying popup ads are the least effective way to gain useful insight from your audience. How many times have you been browsing a website when suddenly the screen changes and the content you were interested in is replaced by an advertisement or email request?  Now ask yourself, how many times did you have a positive reaction to that popup? Not many, huh?  Intrusive popups bug people, period. If you want to elicit positive and helpful reviews from your audience, then as for them in a non-intrusive fashion.  Send (ONE!) polite email (NOT 100!) after a customer makes a purchase or make a request through your social media accounts.  Remember, a customer who reviews your brand is doing you a favor, not the other way around. So act accordingly.

 

Incentivise reviewing of branding strategies.

Following that last statement, a customer who reviews your brand is doing you a favor. So why not reward them?  Whether it be a simple discount or a special offer, providing an incentive for customer reviews will significantly increase the number you receive.  Just be careful how you promote the request because you don’t want “fake reviews.” A poorly tracked and overly encouraged review incentive may draw reviews from people who’ve never done business with you, which can dramatically skew your results.  Check external review sites.  Review sites like Yelp have become very popular over the years and significantly increased the number of reviews that your potential customers have access.  Some of the best and worst reviews that your company will ever receive may already be posted online. So, take some time to seek them out.

If you find positive reviews you can thank the person who wrote them and if you find negative reviews, you’ll have the opportunity to rectify the issue.  The positive reviews are one thing, but the fact that there could be a negative review online, warding off potential customers, should be reason enough to start your search yesterday.

 

Respond to reviews quickly.

People take notice when brands respond quickly to customer reviews, both positive and negative. It shows that your brand cares about its customer’s opinions and listen. Keeping your eye on customer reviews and reaching out with a prompt response will improve your customer retention. Also, it enhances the public perception of your brand. Brands that are known for their quick response time and excellent customer service will find it easy to prove that they are the best choice for potential customers.

 

Share your positive reviews.

Did someone write a fantastic review of your brand? Don’t just leave it in the review section, share it!  From time to time you’ll find a customer review that outshines your marketing material. Turn that customer into a brand ambassador by sharing the report.  Not only will people reading gain a positive outlook on your company, but it will make the client feel even closer to your brand like they’re part of your success.

 

Balance opinions with stats.

Like I mentioned earlier, humans are emotional creatures who will often let their feelings trump their logic. Balance applies to you and your team as much as your customers.  When someone makes a good argument either for or against your current branding strategy its easy to accept what they say at face value. Also, to base your actions on those opinions.  However, if you want to avoid steering your brand in the wrong direction, you need to balance all views with statistical evidence. Ideas and statistics by themselves tend to impress a false representation of your company. It’s when you blend the two that you start to develop a coherent perception of your branding efforts.  This point kind of ties into the last one.

If you see a dip in sales or page views after implementing a new branding strategy, it’s tempting to call your plan the problem and start making changes. But, what if it’s just a slow month (they happen) or maybe a part of your strategy hasn’t been adequately implemented. Before you start making changes to your brand strategy, take your time, weigh all the data, and make sure that your branding strategy is the problem.

 

Never stop improving.

Your brand should be a fluid entity that evolves with the world around it. There will never come a time when your brand is everything it will ever need to be.  Stagnation breeds failure. Never stop searching for ways to improve.  Well, that’s it, from definition to implementation you should now know everything you need to start building your brand.  Hang on second thought, what if I’m rebranding? Well, for those of you who are (or are thinking of) rebranding, I’m going to list my top Rebranding Tips below.  If you’re starting fresh and don’t want to learn about rebranding, click here to skip down to the conclusion.

 

Branding Strategies & Tips

Should I rebrand?  That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Should I rebrand?  The question of whether or not to rebrand is a tough decision to make. We shouldn’t take it lightly. As a general rule of thumb, company’s should consider rebranding or at the very least updating their brand every five years. Beyond that, it’s hard to give a general set of criteria for when it’s time to rebrand. Every situation is different.  However, if you’re starting to wonder if its time, check out this article that was posted in the American Express OPEN forum by Katie Morell. She lists off ten signs that mean you should or should not rebrand. See how many fit your brand.

 

Set measurable goals.

Seriously though, I know we’ve covered the importance of setting measurable goals for your branding strategies. Even though it’s worth mentioning again.  You’re going to have a reason for deciding to spend your time and money on rebranding. But an idea isn’t a goal.  If you rebrand without quantifiable goals, you’re almost guaranteed to waste your resources.

 

Continuity is key.

It’s tough to find the balance of reaching your rebranding goals without pushing away your old customers.  Kristi Knight shared her opinion on the subject in an article for Entrepreneur by saying, “Even the smallest businesses can find it difficult to break the emotional ties to their old brand.” then went on to suggest, “Look for opportunities to bring elements that really matter, to your company and clients, to the new brand. It might be as simple as an iconic color, or typeface. Or maybe the new logo can retain parts of your former logo”. Finding ways to create continuity when rebranding isn’t necessarily difficult, it just takes time and careful consideration. Be sure to keep that in mind when you rebrand.

 

Do your research.

Data should drive your entire approach to rebrand. If you didn't get it right the first time, it was likely due to improper planning. Dig into your reviews, sincerely, and reach out to people with an opinion on your brand. The more input, the merrier.

 

Check copyright laws.

Laws may seem obvious to some, but a surprising amount of people get so caught up in their planning. And they forget to find out if someone else is using their proposed new brand name.

 

Get outside input.

This one is important. Over the years that you and your team have built your brand, it’s natural to develop an emotional connection to it.  That emotion, that passion is a good thing when you’re trying to promote your brand.  It can get in the way of a successful rebrand.  Brittney Helmrich of Business News Daily says, “Whether you just hire a consultant for an hour or 3 months is up to you. But getting an expert’s unbiased opinion early on in the process will be invaluable moving forward.”

 

Make your rebrand a big deal!

A complete rebrand is a unique marketing opportunity, so make the most of it! Unlike seasonal sales, you only (should) go through a full rebrand every five to ten years. So pump up the hype and take full advantage of all the attention you’re getting.

That’s all folks!

Well, that's it. I hope you enjoyed the post. May you had some fresh insight into how you're going to develop your branding strategies. If you think of anything we missed, let us know at [email protected]

One last tip, don’t do this!

Branding Strategies - GAP Failure

You don't have to be small to stumble when implementing new branding strategies.

Just remember, there's no such thing as a plan that was too thorough.

 

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