One of the most common mistakes both new and well-established business owners make is thinking of their brand only visually. If I design a good logo and establish a recognizable visual presence, customers will come, right?
The truth is, creating a recognizable brand without explicitly saying the name of the company is a more holistic process than you might think. “A brand is more than a logo,” explains journalist Ramona Sukhrajen in an article for the business magazine Impact. “It’s a tone of voice, a feeling, a series of expectations that arise when people hear your business’s name. It’s the values and emotions your business is associated with.”
Configure your identity
The first step to establish a solid brand is to think about the characteristics, values, and attributes that make your business unique. This allows you to be positioned as one of the top options for your customers, also known in the business world as “top of mind”. “After thinking about this, you have to seek out a visual identity that reflects those attributes,” explains Javier Hernández Acosta, director of the Department of Business Administration at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón (USC).
A visual identity is everything you create around your brand: the logo, the fonts, message, your contacts and communications with customers, content. “That is what is going to be important in your customer’s mind,” he says.
As an exercise, Hernández Acosta recommends personifying the brand in order to find those attributes. This will make it easier for consumers to associate certain characteristics with your brand. But be careful—don’t be inconsistent in your message. That could be detrimental to your business. “The best way to manage brand recognition is consistency in every element of your message,” Hernández Acosta states.
In his view, associations occur so quickly in the consumer’s mind that you can’t afford to create even a moment’s doubt or confusion. That’s why he recommends creating a style guide for your brand, and making well-thought-out decisions about changes to colors, type fonts and tone of voice, among others.
Know your market
Another important recommendation is that you have a clear understanding of the market you belong to. “It is easy to create messages that are too broad or that don’t address the customer’s actual needs,” explains Zach Beatty, marketing manager of Blue Fountain Media, in an interview with Business Insider. “This can be a challenge for new brands. If they try to appeal to too large an audience from the start, they can end up not resonating with potential customers”, states Beatty.
On the other hand, Hernández Acosta stresses that you have to establish a relationship with your audience, a conversation in which customers feel they can co-create with the brand.
“Nowadays, people want to feel part of a group,” adds the professor.
“There are brands that are very egotistical—they think they are the center of the universe. People are not looking for that. Consumers are looking for brands that will make them feel part of the conversation or the community. Therefore, look for things you have in common with your customers and you will see that that is worth a lot,” states the director of the Business Administration Department of the USC.
For brand positioning, Hernández Acosta recommends distancing yourself from the competition and looking for opportunities to target a market that’s not being served by others in the industry.
In a word: Find your niche.
“It sounds strange, but you should create a kind of monopoly,” he suggests. “Develop a situation in which you can’t really be compared with everybody else.”
It may be a small detail in the service you offer, or a complementary product, the warranty, the service, the location—look for that element that will make you unique, sums up the professor.
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