What is a Brand?
A brand is in some ways a collaboration between the designer or company responsible for the brand and the consumers targeted by the brand. Neither can create the brand by themselves. The brand is something of a corporate image where everything the business does, says, makes or owns is reflected. To be successful, a brand must accurately represent the values and core beliefs of the company. If you’re not sure what your values are as a small business, it’s time to go back to the drawing board to reflect upon these items. You’ll need them for all aspects of marketing.
Creating a Brand
Thought goes into developing a brand, but how do you get from the idea or the product to the articulated brand? Marketing planning or strategy that covers all aspects of advertising, sales, distribution, finances, branding and research, including:
- Market research – What market is buying your products or services? Is there a seasonal aspect? What does your competition offer? Who are your vendors?
- Target market: Who is your target market? Develop a profile or persona for your target market(s).
- Product: What do you sell (or what service do you offer)? What products does your market need and what do they actually use?
- Competition: Who is your competition and what can you do to differentiate your product from theirs?
- Mission statement: Succinctly describe your key market, your product and your unique sales proposition.
- Market strategies: What marketing tactics do you want to use, or at least think about using? Strategies include networking, advertising, direct marketing, thought leadership, trade shows and direct sales.
- Pricing and positioning: How much will your product cost? Where will you position it in the marketplace?
- Brand awareness: What are some ways that you can promote brand awareness? Strategies include incorporating social media, commenting on blogs in your field, attending small local events, collaborating with others and guest blogging.
- Budget: What is your marketing budget? What initiatives should you outsource (i.e. logo design or building a website) and what can you tackle on your own?
- Analytics: Monitor your results to see what aspects of marketing are working and what needs help.
Market Planning and Branding
As you work through market planning, you’ll make decisions about your product that can guide branding. The planning process forces you to focus on target markets and on your uniqueness and values – all elements that make a brand. Research, product development, product positioning and market strategies do much of the hard work for you.
To create the face of the brand, you’ll need a logo, name and tagline. Your name should be distinct and memorable, and may communicate something about your product – but it doesn’t need to. Your tagline serves to jog the consumer’s memory about who you are and what you do. Great taglines like “Just Do it” and “Great Taste, Less Filling” articulate brand messages inclear, concise language. The logo design serves as the visual representation of the brand.
When planning your brand and marketing strategy, don’t rush. Go slow and think through any obstacles that arise. Time spent rewards you later as you can articulate your business and product to investors and consumers.