Everyone knows (well, everyone should by now) the basics of branding. For companies who want to take their efforts a step further and really tighten up and smooth out their branding efforts, here are a few things that can take you from “covering the basics” to “conveying your brand really well”.
- Unload dead weight- For example, if your company is no longer using its blog, take it off your website. While having a vibrant blog can elevate your business to the head of the industry leaders’ circle, having an inactive one is far more damaging to your image than not having one at all. It’s preferable to be seen as not attempting something at all, than starting something and not following through with it. Plus, from a straightforward user experience standpoint, cluttering your website with links that lead to dead ends is absolutely something to avoid. So either commit to using your blog, or cut it loose.
- Ask for feedback…and actually use it- As with most parts of your company’s functionality, your customers, clients, and associates are your single greatest resource for insight into how well you’re doing. Getting feedback on the impact and efficiency of your brand, you can do things as small as send follow-up questionnaires after working with a new customer or client, or be as invested in the exercise as to host a cocktail party or well-planned focus group. If you go that route, make sure to have lunch and drinks and general perks to make it worth their time. Ask questions about what people’s expectations were before working with your company, and how that compared to the reality of their experience. This info will show you how close your brand is communicating what you actually deliver. Make sure, no matter how you go about collecting data about your brand, that you come up with a solid plan for analyzing it and putting it to use.
- Standardize your visuals and printed materials- The crucial second part of establishing great brand elements – logo, colors, fonts, etc. – on your website is carrying those elements into every other channel of outbound communication from your company. Printed letterhead, business cards, brochures, memos, name tags, signage, proposals…everything should mirror visual components that are consistent with your brand.
- Stake your social media claim- We understand that for some small businesses, being heavily active on social media may not be a top priority. Even still, you need to count on the fact that people will be searching for you online, and you want to make sure they actually get to you – and that your brand will be there when they do. Even if you don’t have the time right now to Tweet up a storm, go ahead and register your company’s name on Twitter, put up a banner image and logo, and provide basic contact information. Same goes for Facebook, and even LinkedIn. Customers probably won’t judge you (too much) for not being active on these sites, but showing that you know that they are active there will go far in your favor.