3 steps to brand happiness
We all understand and recognise the power and attraction of a compelling brand. From our very earliest years, we are drawn to (or inherit a trust of) particular brands. Indeed, for most companies, brand happiness lies in this inherent trust – an awareness and acceptance of said brand’s place in everyday life.
We buy-in to these brands because they make us feel good and empowered. They represent what we believe in, or what we aspire to be or achieve. And of course, we remain loyal to the brands we love and promote them to others.
As business owners and managers, the question of brand is a little more complex. Whilst we understand the power and value of brands, many of us believe that the creation and development of a strong brand isn’t quite as important for us.
We believe there are three prevailing attitudes amongst SME owners/managers which deter them from focusing on their brand.
Firstly, there are those SME owners who view ‘branding’ as something that is only relevant in the world of big business, something that large, global companies spend millions on in order to reach new audiences and sell new products. They see it as out of reach for them – a costly exercise that can suck up huge amounts of money, with little tangible benefit.
Secondly, there are those SME decision makers who shy away from focusing on their brand because they struggle to know, in their own mind, what they want their brand to stand for. The thought of trying to determine brand values and a company vision and narrative has their stomachs churning. The mantra tends to be, ‘Our business is doing just fine as it is. If we just focus on providing a good level of service to our customers, then we’ll be OK without any values and positioning statement, thanks very much!”
Finally, there are those SMEs that really do understand the value of creating a strong brand, and who would love to do so for their own business. However, the issue is that they simply don’t know where to start. Perhaps they haven’t been exposed to a branding exercise before or, if they have, it was so complicated that it’s clouded their mind as to how to approach it.
It’s this final group that we’ll focus on here – those managers that are unsure about or daunted by the prospect of working on their brand…
The first thing we should be very clear about is that branding does not have to be a complicated or laborious. In fact, the simpler the better.
At Mainsail, we follow a very simple three step process for all our branding work. It ensures our projects always remain focused and on track, and means that our clients have complete clarity on the journey we’re on together.
BRAND HAPPINESS STEP 1: THE VOCAL
This is essentially about defining everything the company wants to communicate, both internally and externally.
It’s about getting everybody’s input on what makes the company different from your competition, why customers buy from you and keep coming back, the reason you exist. It’s about defining the attributes and qualities of your company and the people that work there.
And that’s it really. Whether you get there through holding a workshop with everybody in the same room, or you do it through individual interviews, it’s just about answering those questions.
Obviously the tricky bit is getting everybody to agree on these answers. Sometimes that can be a challenge but it’s always worth doing as a commercial exercise. After all, your business can only perform at its optimum when there is a consensus at the top of the organisation about what you’re all about and where you’re going.
The output from this activity is a full brand architecture – your mission statement, brand values, corporate narrative and messaging.
BRAND HAPPINESS STEP 2: THE VISUAL
This is basically where we take everything that we have agreed on in Step 1, and visualise it. This is equally as important as Step 1, and it can sometimes be even more contentious!
You can try telling people whatever you like, but if your content (your website, your sales collateral, even your business cards) isn’t visually appealing, then your prospects won’t take the time to read or consider anything you produce.
This is where our creative team develops a visual identity for a brand, starting with storyboards and developing ideas based on client feedback. This includes logos, patterns, colour palettes, image treatments, icons, typefaces etc.
This is the fun bit – getting to choose the colours and styles and fonts that encapsulate what your business is about. It can take time but it’s worth it. Get your visual identity right and people will naturally be drawn to your brand.
BRAND HAPPINESS STEP 3: THE IMPLEMENTATION
So you have a compelling narrative and messaging, and you’ve worked up a fantastic new visual identity, but now what to do with it?
The final part of the process is to implement your new brand across all of your platforms, online and offline. This is important and needs to be approached strategically, what do you really need? It’s surprising how much brand collateral some businesses have!
This stage is essentially about translating your brand onto your website, client emails and newsletters, social media platforms, business cards, packaging, sales brochures and presentations. Once that’s done, it’s time to unveil your new brand and really make an impression on customers and prospects alike.
Hopefully, you’ll be left with a brand that you are really proud of. You should always look to make it a talking point – everybody loves hearing the stories behind brands, the process you went through and how you arrived at your destination.
One final thought, and this will be the subject of another blog in the future… having been through the process of developing a new brand, you should make the most of it. It’s not about ticking the box and sitting back waiting for the sales to roll in.
A new brand should give you the impetus you need to drive your business forward. Make it your mission to go and visit more customers, do more networking, be more active on social media. Look to tell your brand story to anyone who will listen. Only then will you realise the true value of a strong brand.