Branding is a perpetually hot topic in marketing. There is one blog on our site that is consistently our most-read articles – The Do’s and Don’ts of Branding. While I don’t want to restate any of those tips here (even though they’re awesome and absolutely worth a read!), I want to help you think about branding in terms of how it can apply to all of your marketing.
When most of us think of the concept of a brand, we think of logos. Think about Nike. You know what the swoosh looks like. You know what Air Jordans look like. You’ve probably been in a Nike store, so you know what it looks like, smells like, what the lighting or music might be like. As the youths say, “It’s a vibe.” One definition I commonly use is that a brand is what makes you drive an extra mile out of your way.
That intangible quality is what is actually your brand, not simply a logo. It’s the holistic sum of your colors, fonts, tone, style, content, and company mission, vision, and values. It’s how your clients are treated when they walk through your door. It’s how your social media posts look. It’s the experience a user has on your website and not just the colors on it. It’s how people respond to your email newsletters. That is the essence of what a brand is.
So how can a business in any industry leverage their brand, particularly if they’re in an industry that is just not a historically “sexy” industry?
Here are seven building blocks for building a brand, revisiting an existing brand, and maybe some new ideas on how to revitalize your brand in 2022.
- Be the best you. Don’t mimic, copy, or duplicate. Be your own authentic you. By all means, find inspiration in the competition and in other industries. But don’t be a second-rate version of someone else.
- Take the time to brainstorm. How can you leverage all types of marketing in a way that allows you to express yourself? Is there a social media channel that you should be using that maybe is outside of the box (what about TikTok?)? Is there a blog series or a graphic design idea you have that is unique and matches who you are? Is there a brand in another industry doing something that you love that you can make uniquely yours? Some ways to brainstorm new ideas:
- Have you made a vision board for the year or your brand? A vision board can take many different forms, but it’s a tangible expression of what you want to achieve.
- Use Pinterest. A different version of the vision board, Pinterest will allow you to build out your plans virtually in the form of online boards.
- Look at bullet journals, unique tablets (I love the reMarkable), or other ways to create notes, write out your vision or plans – however you conceptualize your vision. I have friends who LOVE office supplies and sometimes all it takes is a new notebook and some new pens and your creative juices start flowing.
- Step back and review your freshness. When was the last time you refreshed your look, style, logo, website, and print materials? If it’s been a while, maybe take a look at your brand with fresh eyes. Is it time for a refresh? Is it time to change things up a bit? Even many of the brands that we know best like Amazon, Facebook, and FedEx have had a massive logo, color, and style renovations over the last few years.
- If you need to conduct a brand audit, here is a helpful article for you: 3 tools for a website check-in
- Get your team involved. This cannot be overstated. You need your team to “buy in” to your brand. Since we know a brand is the total sum of a client’s sensory experience with your business, your team will account for a significant portion of those interactions. Think about Apple’s “Genius Bar” and their resident geniuses. Think about Walt Disney World and their “Cast Members.” All of those team members play crucial roles in understanding the brand, conveying the brand, and ensuring the consistent experience of the brand. They also, as stated before, have a certain vibe that matches the brand. Whether you want more ideas, new ideas, help with executing new systems or marketing pieces, your team can help. Here are some ideas for how to get your team involved:
- Use their expertise for thought leadership on social media or in content marketing; could they come up with a series or a podcast that they are able to run?
- Leverage brands they like or follow to expand your reach. They might know about companies that you don’t and be able to recommend partners, mentors, collaborations, etc.
- Are there untapped resources on your team? Is someone incredible at design? A budding writer? A creative thinker? You never know what you might find if you ask the right questions.
- What is exclusive? What is something that people can only get with you, your company, your brand? What is strongly, truly, uniquely yours? If you can’t enumerate those items, it might be time to go back to the starting point of your brand. Do your clients and customers know that what they get with you is uniquely yours? How can you show them?
- Focus on conversation. Are there brands that are similar to yours? Brands that make sense to you and match up with who you are? Start talking. Share their content, collaborate, engage. Here are some ideas for brand collaboration:
- Social media takeovers
- Trading services for mutual benefit
- Design partnerships – look at some of these incredible examples!
- Run an event together
- Always learn. Never underestimate the importance of a strong mentor, of lifelong learning, and that you don’t (and can’t) know everything. Podcasts, business books, online courses, conferences, and trade shows, even following thought leaders on Twitter can be helpful. You can’t know everything and there is always something that you can learn from someone else. Leverage that knowledge, write it down, implement what you can, and revisit those ideas over time.
If after reading this you feel like maybe you haven’t done a great job of really focusing on your brand, then you’re not alone. Even as someone who regularly teaches branding, writes about branding, and works with brands on their own branding, sometimes I find myself coming up short. I’m using these tips personally and professionally with our own team to make sure that we’re following all these policies in 2022. Let us know if you need a little help with your marketing and your branding and our team will be happy to help! Contact us for a free consultation.