No matter what kind of business you run, branding can be a huge asset. But the truth is, it’s really easy to get distracted by all the other “stuff” required to keep a business running smoothly and push your branding needs to the side. The sheer amount of competition and content out there is mind-boggling, and often, as business owners and creatives we feel this immense pressure to produce the right kind of content and with the right amount of frequency.
It’s easy to find yourself in an unending marathon of blog writing and Instagram posting, throwing paint at the wall and hoping it sticks. In spaces like this, ideas can go from concept to completion so quickly we often forget to make sure our day-to-day work is in line with our branding.
Unfortunately, branding is not a one-and-done kind of thing. It takes consistent work to make sure you’re staying true to your company vision and values. In many ways branding acts as a compass, keeping you headed towards your own true north. This is also why it’s so important to make the time to review your branding and ask yourself if it’s still pointing you in the right direction, if you’ve gotten off track, or sometimes, or if it’s time to go another way.
What’s going on inside?
Establish a baseline
Before you can ask if your branding is doing its job, you have to know what it is you’ve set up to begin with. This is where your mission, vision and goals come into play. If possible, these need to be established sooner rather than later. But more importantly, they have to feel true to who you are as a company. Often, branding doesn’t resonate with an audience if it doesn’t feel authentic. So whether you’re just starting out or you haven’t thought about it in awhile, get those things down on paper and take some time to reflect. If necessary, don’t be afraid to revise!
Solidify your values
Aside from your mission and vision, the second most important thing you can establish are your values. This also ties in with your authenticity and in many ways acts as the glue that holds everything together. Your values represent the ideals that you as individuals and your company hold closet and in theory should be imbued not only within our branding, but everything your company produces. Additionally, when you know exactly what you stand for the better your chances are of attracting ideal clients … those who value the same things and truly appreciate what it is you offer.
Pinpoint your ideal client
So, speaking of ideal clients. Who are they? Typically as business owners and marketing directors your ideal clients are a lot like you: their interests are similar and they have parallel goals … but not always. Knowing who it is you are trying to reach is really important when it comes to creating and tailoring content so it “speaks” to your audience. Branding and target audience go hand-in-hand, so this is where you need to get specific. What’s the demographic? What language appeals to that demographic? What are their pain points? What solutions are they searching for? If there was ever a time for corporate detective work … this is it! Dedicate some time to “sleuthing” and create a profile for the ideal clientele base.
What’s the view from the outside?
Once you have all the behind-the-scenes pieces refined you can better assess the performance of your client-facing components. This includes your visuals as well as the content of your messaging.
Find your voice
Brand messaging is just a fancy way of describing your company voice. It’s the phrasing, mood and delivery you craft to communicate who you are, what your company provides and what sets you apart. Messaging encompasses all your content, from what appears on your website and your marketing materials to product packaging. Language is really powerful. Even subtleties can make a huge impact, so it’s crucial to review the way you communicate and ask yourself if you’re doing so in a way that resonates with your core audience. This is also why it’s so important to truly understand your ideal client. Once that’s done you can make sure your messaging speaks to their needs while also remaining consistent with your mission and values.
Analyze your visuals
The truth is we all judge a book by its cover. Those are just the facts. Beauty engages us, and in fact, we wrote a whole other article about it (you can read it here: Beauty & The Brain). Unfortunately, no matter how killer your content is, visual branding often still takes the cake, so it’s really important that your visual branding is on point across the board. Think logos, colors, imagery, and fonts. The brain loves uniformity, which is also why people are likely so drawn to Instagram’s grid layout. A strong, consistent visual identity not only pleases our brain’s attraction to patterns, but helps establish loyalty and illustrates commitment. Consistency also helps bolster brand identity. When an audience can recognize your brand from another, that’s a strong sign that your brand strategy is working.
Don’t fight change
Lastly, evolution is unavoidable. As humans, we change and grow, and thus, so will our companies. When that time comes our branding will have to evolve as well, which is why consistent evaluation is key.
Don’t be afraid of change, however, it’s also important to make sure you give your strategies a fighting chance. It’s a careful balance, but it’s one that’s most easily kept by consistent communication, frequent check ins and a healthy dose of honesty.