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Do I need branding?

As strange a concept as it might be, we are walking, talking brands for ourselves and we must be the guardian of our own brand.

This is all about marketing.

Terms that have been used for many years to describe a person’s character such as strong a personality, or being charismatic, or introverted, are now elevated in status and recognised and understood as key elements in personal branding, something we cannot ignore in today’s world. It is natural for us to describe a person by their characteristics and recognize them by this immediately, and it is important for us to be aware of those labels as they might be the key to opening, or closing doors to us. Being aware of your own personal brand is an extremely important element as you move to shape your future success.

For businesses, especially when it comes to opening a new business, the importance of branding takes centre stage. In order for a business to succeed, it is vital you research and prepare well. You may have an amazing business idea, but without a thorough understanding of your market, competitors, and consumer, it is impossible to carve out your company’s USP (unique selling proposition) and define a strong brand identity. Nowadays, it is unlikely you will find success if you spontaneously open a business without any research; today you must plan, research, and ask for feedback before establishing a business. Thanks to many online tools and specialist software, it is possible to reduce the number of mistakes made and the disappointment, saving time and money. There are also many agencies or freelancers who, for an investment, can help with the research for your business, or help to define your brand. This preparation will allow you to align your business values with your potential clients or customers.

Why is all this important? Today there are numerous choices for consumers and the market is cluttered with brands, no matter the sector. Consumers no longer respond to straight forward advertising – the “I speak you listen” model of the 70’s and 80’s; instead with the rise of social media and review sites, consumers are now the opinion formers and are of increasing importance to a brand’s success. From a study done by Search Engine Land , 88% consumers trust online reviews and will refer to these before making a brand choice. However, what if you are a new business with no reputation or reviews as yet, but you know you offer a great service or product and may even be cheaper?  Well, then you must use the first impression approach. You must clearly define your USP, why you are of difference in the market and why you would be of value to a potential customer. When you start to create your brand, it is imperative to define a tone for communication which reflects your brand values and your audience. However, remember that whilst you want to sell your brand, a consumer is more interested in how your brand will be of benefit to them, and it is important to put this need at the centre of communication rather than the brand itself, although of course you will want to, and should, talk about the great assets of your product or service.

A consistent brand story and tone needs to be reflected through all your communications, and for most new businesses a website or Facebook page is their shop window. It takes about 0.5 seconds for a user to form an opinion about your website which will determine whether they’ll stay or leave the site. You might have the best, most revolutionary products to sell, but if you don’t keep a user’s (potential customer’s) attention long enough, you will have no chance to tell them how great your product or service is. So how do you make sure they stay on your website? It is down to a few factors and it is a remarkably similar to when we meet a new person – it only takes a 1/10th of a second to decide if you like somebody or find them trustworthy. With this in mind, you want to ensure that a user’s first visit to your website, blog or online shop is memorable, enjoyable and has a positive impact on their perception of your brand. Design is an important element here, this is your colour palette, type of fonts, graphics, images, videos, and wording. We must also not forget crucial factors such as load times and intuitive navigation, as a fail in these areas can mean a loss of a potential customer.

The design and branding you choose to represent your brand must align with your business vision, it must be clear to the consumer and highlight the brand values. The best way to do this is to write down the vision and then define a statement which is credible and delivers on your business vision and is the brand promise. Don’t promise services which you know that you cannot deliver, this is a sure-fire way to discredit your brand. You need to sound passionate and reliable; if you don’t believe in your business, nobody will. Make a short list of 3-5 words describing your business and from here you will be able to build your brand around those, including the tone and image you would like to project. Up to 85% of consumers believe colour is the biggest motivator when choosing a product, while 92% acknowledge visual appearance as the most persuasive marketing factor overall.

This is all about successfully attracting the right consumer to your business. So in summary, you need to make sure that you know who your consumer is and what they need; invest time in market research; find your niche and adapt your services to their exact needs; and finally be clear and unique. You want to attract the people who share the same values as your business. The mission of your business must attract your ideal customers and clients, you do not need sell to everyone. Ensure your branding is consistent throughout all your social media platforms and statements. It has been proven that businesses with consistent branding are the more trustworthy and successful.

If you have never attempted this before and never considered how to build a brand or launch a business online, do not be daunted by the task. There are many articles online with advice and guidelines on how to build your brand, plus how to effectively design your website and start your online marketing approach – Google Digital Garage is a free online course and a great way to start. Be brave, trust in your business idea and have confidence in the brand you are building.

Article prepared by

Monika Serafinska

WBL Co-Founder

Owner at VA Office London

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