How do you develop a strong brand? A brand that people connect with, feel a part of. A brand that always stays top of mind.
Branding isn’t just important. It’s vital to the success of your company. Without it, you’re just a product or service. You’re a commodity. There’s nothing there for customers to get behind, share or promote. But whether you’re a startup, a company trying to develop branding ideas or someone investing in a complete re-branding, it’s hard. To truly stand out, you need to be unique. You need a brand that people want to talk about. You need a brand that generates leads.
Let’s explore 10 branding ideas that will help you develop that kind of brand.
1. Know Who You Are
Often times, we send customers mixed messages. We’re a value leader. No, we’re high end. Today, I’m the discount brand. Look at me!
As the saying goes, if you seek to please everyone, you please no one. And, as a brand, if you don’t first identify who you are — and in turn — who your customers are, you can’t become something that target customers can get behind. You could be like that kid in elementary school who seems to be friends with everyone. But no one knows him on a very deep level. And when it comes down to it, he doesn’t know who his friends really are. And they don’t know who he really is.
Branding ideas will be scattered and ineffectual if you don’t first know who you are. When investing in a branding strategy, first, take a long, hard look at who you are and who you want to be to your customers. From this clarity, your branding ideas flow.
2. Differentiate, Differentiate, Differentiate
It’s worth saying again. Differentiate. Trying to be like your competitors, doesn’t work. Beating people at their own game sounds intriguing. And if, you’re competitive, it can have the most payoff for the ego. But, in practice, you can end up putting a lot of extra time, energy and money into fighting their way.
When you could put that same energy toward:
- Identifying and working toward your own strengths
- Shifting the paradigm and market in your favor
- Luring competitors out of their barricaded towers and onto your playing field. En guarde!
Differentiation recognizes that your company has unique and valuable strengths that you can leverage to gain and retain market share — aka, loyal customers. When you’re developing the specific branding ideas for your company, consider what you do best that can really make waves in your industry.
Don’t mimic. Become a thought leader. We’re not telling you how to brand your company in this article (i.e., do as we do). We’re sharing how you can create the brand that’s right for your business.
3. Build an Undeniable Website Presence
A web presence today is a lot more than having a website. But we’ll start there.
What message does your website send to your customers?
- Are you trusted?
- Are you fun?
- Are you an industry leader?
Use your website to express who you are and who your customers are through:
- Valuing the user experience (site speed, navigation, helpful resources, etc.)
- Using text, image, video and widget to send a clear message about who you are
- Encourage customers to share their experiences with your brand through your site in customer-generated content. These go beyond simply reviews and into the realm of storytelling, a powerful tool in branding.
- Getting social, which we’ll discuss more in depth a little later.
4. Let Your Personality Shine Through
As business leaders, we may be paralyzed by fear and don’t even know it. We’re often afraid to let our hair down, kick our shoes off, take a leap and let customers get to know us.
But here’s the thing. Customers aren’t drawn to companies. You can’t connect with or share with a company. People are drawn to people. Brands are people.
Your branding ideas will involve creating a personality that people can relate to. Depending on your audience, this could be done by adopting a certain persona like:
- Vulnerability & Fallibility (sounds crazy but can work in some industries)
- Shared Knowledge
- Staying on the cutting edge
Find the personality that will best speak to your customers and don’t be afraid to share on a deeper level with your customers, which leads us to the next point.
5. Get Intimate
Everyone wants to belong somewhere. Today, brands are that sense of belonging for many people.
They connect with your company culture. They connect with your leadership. They connect with your employees.
That feel connected to your customers. They are a part of something.
But being a part of something means getting past the surface layer and truly getting to know you.
As you’re developing branding ideas, ask yourself:
- What do you believe as a company? This goes far beyond a mission statement
- How do you show your employees that you value their contribution as well as who they are as individuals?
- How do you show customers that they’re an important part of your business?
- How do you invest in things that matter to you like environment, communities, animal rights, etc?
- What are the inner-workings of your business?
Will getting intimate turn some people off? Most likely, yes. But by getting real about who you really are as a brand, you’ll strengthen your bond with loyal customers and turn them into promoters.
6. Have a Social Brand
A social media presence is much more than posting that you’ve updated your blog or are running a special promotion on your social media account. It’s about connecting with people in a more laid back and social setting. Among your branding ideas, consider how your company will engage your target audience on social. This may be through videos, contests, user-content, blogs and new stories that matter to your customers.
Don’t get stuck in a rut thinking that you have to create all of your social content yourself. That can get insanely expensive. Instead, consider your brand and curate content that aligns well with your brand while engaging your customers. Finally, be available and be social. Running a social media account also involves answering customer questions, resolving concerns and otherwise interacting with your target.
Whatever your exact branding ideas might be, the goal of social is to make customers feel like they’re a part of your business — its mission, its success, its growth. When people feel this kind of belonging. That’s when they want to share your brand with others.
Network with other industry leaders and influencers. While you won’t be stealing any branding ideas, you’ll be amazed and how connecting with your peers and thought leadership can get those creative juices flowing.
Attend workshops. Get outside of your daily operations. And then bring ideas back to further carve out your brand niche in the market.
8. Listen to Your Customers
When developing branding ideas, find a way to demonstrate — in a way that aligns with your brand — that you not only listen to your customers. You adapt your business to meet their needs. Customers today want to be heard. When they know that you value them, they’re more likely to value your brand.
Some ways to do this would be:
- Sharing feedback on social media
- Encouraging reviews
- Let them create video testimonials for your site
- Regularly review feedback. What can you learn from it? What can you do better?
- Admit your mistakes when it makes sense for your brand. A great example of this would be the Domino’s re-branding. They basically said: Oops, we’ve really let quality slide. Here’s what we’re doing to fix it. The consumer response to this kind of honesty was enormous.
9. Look Outside for Insight
As we’ve already mentioned, mimicking the competition isn’t the way to go. But you can get great branding ideas by exploring how companies in totally different industries are branding themselves. Brands may seem to be all about their industry on the outside. But on the inside, developing a strong and memorable brand requires creativity. Studies show that we develop the most creative ideas when we’re looking outside our own small world.
10. Have a Plan and Stick to It
Consistency in key with branding ideas. You may adapt your strategies across channels. For example, the way you engage on Snapchat may be different from Instagram or Facebook. But ultimately, it’s all one brand regardless of where your brand “hangs out” with customers.
Customers will interact with you across channels. If you’re one thing in one place, and something else over here, the whole brand seems like a masquerade ball. The customer doesn’t know which mask to expect on their next touchpoint. Predictability is a major part of what people connect with in a brand. When you look like someone else over here, they start questing if they really know who you are a brand.
Remedy this by creating a style or branding guide that your brand follows. It would include things like:
- Your voice
- Your personality
- Your color schemes
- Your fonts
- Your website navigation systems
- The kind of content you share
- The way you engage with customers
- The events you host
- Your message
While you don’t want to stifle creativity as you’re trying to fit yourself into a narrow box, give your brand a clear image that transfers across all touchpoints regardless of the location of that contact.
Creative Branding Ideas Start with You
We can always look at others for inspiration, but ultimately, your brand is a very unique and personal entity. Who knows your company and your customers better than you? Who better to develop a brand that connects with the right people and makes them feel that they belong?
I chose the picture of the pair of Nike because I buy those sneakers not because they cookie-retargeted me — I buy them because of all the points mentioned above — the brand. What would you add to our branding ideas? Comment below.