How to Be a Branding Professional as an Entrepreneur
If you are an entrepreneur, you probably have many great ideas and are enthusiastic about many aspects of running a business. Still, each separate aspect of all these interesting business aspects requires a special set of skills. Branding is one thing that is very important, as promoting your products/services and your brand in a trustworthy manner is what makes the money come rolling in. You cannot just send out a Tweet, say “I have started a new company called [company name],” and expect that to be branding. The magic of branding is hard work and continuous effort and you need to become a branding professional.
As Ann Smarty says, branding is essential. Thanks to the internet, your potential customers are being flooded with buying opportunities. While quality, cost, and execution play a role in a customer’s decision, trust remains the key way to win the sale. Branding is an essential part of winning trust, so make sure to do it right from the start of your company. In this blog, I will give you 12 branding tips as well as 7 tips for brand consistency.
12 Branding Tips so that you can become a branding professional
I have read several articles on branding and below, I will list the various tips that I have found. Articles used are by Smarty, Pam Moore, and Blog Catalog. Each one of these sources often links its tips to brand consistency, so brand consistency is worth discussing separately. After all, we want you to become a branding professional!
1. Define the identity of your brand
You need to answer some questions about your company first. How do you want your clients to see your brand? What are your products or company differentials? What are your mission, objectives, and values as a company?
2. Spend moments on execution, but months in preparation
For your company’s branding to work, it will need to be more than just a name. A logo, tagline, tone of approach, and color scheme can be important. Make time and money available for this.
3. Monitor your brand-related queries
Whatever people are searching for on Google regarding your brand indicates what they think about it and what problems they have. Moreover, if too many people are searching [your-brand-name scam], this phrase will show up in Google Auto-suggest results. Therefore, monitoring what people are searching and where your site ranks for different search phrases is crucial. You can use various keyword research tools in combination with keyword position monitoring software.
4. Go for simplicity
Simplicity is effective in branding efforts since it makes your company more memorable.
5. Get into social media and interactive content
There are tons of social media sites, and people aged 18 to 34 actually spend more time on these sites than they do watching TV. You need to get your company on these sites, but your work does not end there.
You need to post regularly, add valuable content, and use as much interactivity as you can by putting out videos, interactive presentations, manipulable infographics, and so forth. Interactivity does not have to be expensive or complicated. Something as simple as animating your banners can improve your campaign performance.
6. When in doubt, hire out
If you are not sure you can come up with something really solid on your own when it comes to a good-looking logo, the right tagline or an inspiring company motto, it is wise to employ a copywriter, graphic designer, and brand strategist.
7. Your profile photo matters
Do not use your high school photo or show too much skin. Keep the photo professional yet real. Spend the time and money to invest in a professional photo if possible. Get creative and have fun during your photo shoot. Your photo should be simple and memorable, establish trust, and build relationships from the first look.
8. Your bio and description matter
Your bio and description are very important when it comes to social media. As you will see later, consistency is key. Do not “wing it” each time you sign up for a new social network. Also, keep the content fresh. Be certain that the way you describe yourself and your business is always accurate when it comes to your current state of business and life. It is a good habit to check and, if necessary, update on a monthly basis.
9. Format your images properly
Take the time to understand the guidelines for images provided by each social network platform. Do not create one image and then force fit it into each social network profile. Properly size and optimize the images. Do not skip this step; your images will look very weird otherwise!
10. Create supporting images
Focus on more than just your profile image, cover images, and logo. Create a set of supporting images that you can use for call to actions, Facebook tab icons, posts on Facebook, images to support blog posts, and more. We live in a visual world and images are a great way to share your brand story.
11. Be human
There is only one you. Be that person. Treat your audience and social communities as human beings. Care about them and speak to them as human beings. You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them.
12. Think mobile
Make sure your website is mobile responsive. It takes much work to get visitors to your website. Do not send them running away because of a bad design or unreadable font, just because they do not visit your website on a laptop.
Become a branding professional: understand brand consistency
As Smarty said, if you are not consistent from site to site, customers will not recognize your brand, you will not build trust, and your efforts will end up fairly impotent. She urges you to repeat yourself for your brand to stick. Consistency is key! I have also made this clear in my blog The Ultimate Guide to Brand Consistency across Social Media.
Ivan Widjaya lists a few things that consistency helps control when growing and maintaining a brand. Brand consistency:
- confirms the brand is professional and driven to achieve its purpose and social commitments
- shows how focused and intentional the company is in achieving its goals and maintaining standards
- avoids issues resulting from people confusing your brand with others in similar industries, or those possessing the same or similar name as yours
- manages perceptions. Sticking to brand values and maintaining a consistent image in the public eye will shape the way people see the brand, during the good times and not-so-good times
- builds more brand equity in the long run. As the brand gains traction, your name and logo will become synonymous with trust and value, and opportunities to leverage that value will eventually come your way
- ensures consumers know what to expect each time they do business with you, such as what level of service and quality they will get in exchange for their money, and how your brand compares with others
Become a branding professional: 7 brand consistency tips
So, if you want to be a branding professional, here are 7 tips to keep your brand consistent across various media platforms:
1. Brand architecture
Moore suggests brand architecture. Your brand is much bigger than your logo or a set of colors. Your brand is everything you tweet, post, pin, +1, say and do. Take the time to develop your brand identity and a brand architecture that serves as a foundation for you to execute your digital brand.
Your digital brand is not unique to your overall brand; rather, it should be an extension of your overarching brand. If you are not sure where to start with this, ask for help.
2. Message architecture
Moore also suggests message architecture: develop a message architecture that will help you communicate with your audiences and communities both online and offline in a consistent and relevant manner. It provides a consistent platform that enables you to build dynamic, inspirational, and meaningful conversations while still being consistent.
Your mission with social media should be to figure out where your audience is hanging out online and then figure out how to have the most relevant conversation with them you possibly can. That requires research, commitment, and a structured messaging and content marketing platform.
3. Choose a social profile username and stick to it
Moore advises you to select an online username that can be used consistently. It is best to use the same name when possible. If it is not possible because someone else or another brand has already taken ownership of the name, select one as close as you can.
4. Brand consistency is not boring
Widjaya asks you if you find Coke, or Apple, or Virgin Records boring. All these brands regard consistency as one of their top three secrets to success and longevity.
5. Your entire team needs to strive for brand consistency
Regardless of who in the company is involved in the early stages of brand building, everyone needs to understand what is considered the proper use of company taglines, social profiles, forum accounts, logos, other graphics, and anything else that directly affects brand consistency.
6. Everyone on the team who distributes branding material needs full access to all logos, graphics, and other branding materials
The last thing you need is a branding faux-pas because someone had to tinker out their own rendition of a critical branding graphic such as the company logo. Your team must have all the tools they need to maintain brand consistency in every task they do.
7. Designate an in-house “branding police squad”
You cannot do it all. Few entrepreneurs have the time and resources to monitor how your brand name and branding materials are distributed. You should not have to. Find the needle-in-the-haystack types in your team and encourage them to call people out when they see something that goes against your official branding style guide. Also, encourage them to suggest changes in the brand and message architecture as you continually strive to build and maintain the brand.
I hope this blog has helped you understand branding and brand consistency better. If you feel you are not yet a branding professional and you need more help getting branding started for your company, please read Strong Corporate Branding. It is written for starting entrepreneurs. Alternatively, find a professional who can help you develop a style guide (or a brand/message architecture, as Moore calls it). I can help you with translations if you want to spread your message in multiple languages!