Consider all of the companies and their branding that you see on a daily basis. Nike. McDonald’s. Samsung. Microsoft. When you think about these companies, you likely have a mental image of their corporate identities. All of the things you associate with a company, like how it markets a service or its target demographic, are due in part to brand strategy. Without a brand, a corporate mission and a distinct identity, a company is nothing.
Thinking About Branding
When you head to the Apple store and pick up the latest MacBook Pro or iPhone, you’re likely not thinking about the steps Apple took to get their product to you. The design of their stores, the price of their products, and relaxed, unique atmosphere of store employees and their checkout processes are all part of Apple’s brand strategy. The mental picture you have of Apple, the company’s products and its role in mainstream culture are part of a corporate branding strategy.
Getting Started With Brand Strategy
Apple has the benefit of dozens of years of brand strategy but they had to start somewhere. One of the most important steps in the formation of a corporation is determining a marketing strategy and a strategy for brand identity. Learning how to identify what facets of your business to emphasize, the way you want the public to see you, the solution you are trying to sell and the reason you stand above your competitors can seem daunting to a business owner but mastering the art of branding can be the difference between success and failure.
Considering Your Business Model
When you sit down to contemplate the brand strategy you want for your company, there are many things to consider. Firstly, consider your business model. What are you selling? What services do you provide? What problem are you trying to solve? Your brand is the way the public will perceive you. If you are selling financial planning services to high net worth individuals, your brand should be professional, reliable and elite rather than quick, fast and cheap. Know your market. Additionally, keep your ideas consistent. Even if you love an idea, don’t use it if it doesn’t work. For example, Apple has fashioned themselves as a high-end, reputable electronics company. Using coupons would undermine their brand.
An important step in the branding process is finding an emotional trigger that will bring in customers. Whether your pitch is that your company is more personal and trustworthy than your competitors or that you sell a higher quality service for a higher price, sell to emotions. In fact, playing off your competitors to a small degree can not only give you an edge but can help you identify what is lacking or needed in your market. Take Apple’s Genius Bar model. The company saw an opening in Microsoft’s poor tech support and ran with it.
Tying It All Together
There are many elements to business success but brand strategy can be crucial. Developing a clear idea for how you want your company to be perceived in its market is a large factor in initial and ongoing success. If you can find a reason for customers to choose you and come back again and again, half the battle has been one. With a unique brand, you and your company can stand out in the crowd, a factor that can lead to financial security and the surety of going concern.