When you're starting a business, branding often takes a back burner to more pressing issues. Months or years later, however, this initial complacency can lead to problems with promotion and customer awareness. With a few changes, it's possible to build a more marketable brand that clearly defines your purpose and makes your company more memorable.
Clarify Your Message
Clarity is one hallmark of a marketable brand. Too many messages, or messages that are vague or conflicting, confuse the customer and dilute your brand image. Test your clarity by asking employees, "What does your company do?" If responses vary dramatically, or if your staff cannot provide a short, comprehensive answer in 15 seconds or less, there's a problem. To improve your brand, come up with a statement that communicates exactly how you serve customers and how you do it. Virgin America, for example, sets out "to make flying good again, with brand new planes, attractive fares, top-notch service, and a host of fun, innovative amenities that are reinventing domestic air travel."
Define Your Values
For many companies, values are a key part of daily operations and major business decisions. These core beliefs can be a meaningful part of a marketable brand — when they are communicated clearly, they help shape a customer's opinion of your organization. Starbucks, for example, believes in "creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome." Airbnb sums up its belief in acceptance and a global community in two words: "belong anywhere." By defining company values, you can make it easier for the marketing staff to create materials and messages that accurately capture your brand.
As you build a more marketable brand, consistency must be a top priority. Every interaction with your company should look and feel the same. Start with your visual elements, including websites, online ads, billboards, social media profiles and employee uniforms. Ensure that each item uses identical colors, fonts and image treatments. Then, revamp your content so that each message uses a tone and style that matches your company's personality. To guarantee a unified image going forward, write a branding style guide to help each department present your company in the same way. This consistency builds familiarity and makes your brand instantly recognizable, which is essential for powerful marketing.
The end goal of a marketable brand is to set your business apart from competitors. To that end, it's important to define the things that make your company different. If your company uses special high-end factory equipment, the marketing department can focus on your fast production and small-batch capabilities. If your art department staff members have advanced engineering backgrounds, you're uniquely positioned to offer clients accurate, detailed technical imagery. Although you might not communicate each detail to the public, particularly when it comes to trade secrets, these unique features can help create powerful marketing and advertising campaigns.
Creating a marketable brand takes time and intense thought, but the end results are worth the effort. With a clearer, more focused brand, your marketing department can design effective materials and advertising campaigns that boost the bottom line.
Photo courtesy of Antonio Bonanno at Flickr.com