Apple, Facebook, Alibaba – what do these large corporations have in common? They’ve spent significant efforts on building a brand that’s instantly recognisable and identifiable. They tend to generate varying vibes amongst their customers – be it a sense of aspiration (for Apple), connection (Facebook) or e-commerce value (for Alibaba).
What is branding?
Before we dive deep into creating a personal branding or for the company, it is important to understand its crux.
“Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa.”
– Jay Baer
Branding is all about creating a unique image of a product in the consumers’ minds. This helps to build a distinguished presence in the market which attracts loyal customers.
Branding determines the way your audience perceives you.
Why brand yourself?
Personal branding isn’t just a buzzword. Now that there’s increased focus on maintaining a presence on social networks and connecting via professional online portfolios, there’s a growing need for every job seeker and working professional to brand themselves.
Staying updated with what’s going on in your field of expertise is critical. At the same time, you have to be mindful of the way you portray yourself online and in-person. Positioning yourself as an expert in your field and presenting your qualities and qualifications in the best possible way is all a part of the self-branding exercise.
What are the 5 ways to brand yourself?
#1 – Belief
As cliché as it sounds, we need to constantly be reminded to have faith in ourselves. Sure, we don’t have to avoid following the paths created by others, but it is important to ask ourselves who we are. The key is to stop conforming to other’s expectations and focus on improving ourselves. A personal brand relies heavily on belief and standout characteristics.
#2 – Read more
This is arguably one of those ideas that have a general consensus amongst everyone – books shape our character and give us perspective. While reading books could seem like a time consuming process, it remains one of the fastest ways to building your brand and solidifying it. Dedicate yourselves to read out a new book for a while every day. Repeat for a month try to touch a count of 12 in a year.
#3 – Audit your circle
They say we are the average of five people that we spend our time with. Basic arithmetic should then tell you who you should be spending your time with. Similar to reading books, a circle has a large impact on broadening horizons and perspectives – both of which help identify what you believe in and what you’d like to be known for. Join community groups of your liking and engage with them. Spend time learning new things which can be handy for our profession. The added bonus here is that you get to build and leverage networks.
#4 – Who is your core customer?
Many struggle with this question and end up not understanding who their core customers are. After identifying your niche, determine the key problems and issues you are working to solve. This, of course, can take an intensive amount of research. Once you find your purpose, and therefore your customer, try to understand them, test your ideas and align yourself with appropriate goals.
#5 – Visibility
Social networks like LinkedIn have a reputation for building trust networks. The first thing many professionals do today after a meeting or rendezvous with someone, is looking them up on LinkedIn. This is a great opportunity to brand yourself at what you excel at and what you’d like to be known for. Twitter can be another influencer tool to brand who you are and what you do. Follow people in your niche and understand what the market is like. Build a voice of your own online. Engage with others to improve your visibility. Online reputation management isn’t easy, and requires some serious dedication and patience.
Why brand your company?
Apart from creating an attractive logo and a good business tagline, a lot of things come into the picture when you’re branding your organisation. These factors need to be addressed in order to be seen as a good brand.Your company’s brand is largely responsible for how it will be perceived by both customers and non-customers, and helps deliver the vibe and recognition you need for long term growth. Executed correctly, it can single handedly convey your model and values without much explanation. Take Uber, or Facebook for example. And of course, good branding also considerably adds to the value of your company.
5 ways to brand your company
#1 – Market Research
Find answers to some questions like: does the customer know about your brand? What is the market perception of your company? Where’d we stand in comparison with the competitors from the customer view? What comes into the customers’ mind when they think about our brand?
This can be effectively solved by conducting some market research, which should give you feedback. Market research can be done by creating customer focus groups or hiring experts with a specialized set of tools, which can help in generating more data.
#2 – What is the USP of the company?
The Unique Selling Proposition is the factor that distinguishes the product (or service) of your company in comparison to its competitors. It could be in terms of product quality, cost, exceptional customer service and even warranty.
Examples include –
- Domino’s “30 minutes or it’s free” promise,
- FedEx’s “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”
A good brand should be able to convey your company’s USP in a clear way without having to rely on additional context. This isn’t restricted to just your logo (although brands like Fedex – with its bi-directional arrows – and Amazon – with its focus on ‘A-Z’, manage to succeed at it), but extends to the perception of your brand in general. With a great USP – one that you continue to deliver on – your brand should eventually become synonymous with it.
#3 – Brand name should communicate the message clearly
After understanding market requirements and arriving on the USP of your company, come up with a brand name which delivers your message clearly. When comparing a branded product with a generic product, even if they may have the same characteristics – such as nutritional value, the branded product typically wins the race. This is because of the way it is packed, colored and given an extra touch.
#4 – Create an emotional bond
According to psychologists, as much as 90% of communication is nonverbal. You could aim to catch the customer attention using colors. For example – red demands immediate action/sudden response, orange is for adventure which looks for enthusiasm, yellow is for warmth and cheerfulness, green is used to represent nature.
Another way is to create a good storyline. For example, Elon Musk is an influencer without really visibly attempting to be one, largely due to his life story that inspires so many.
#5 – Keep your message consistent and clear
Once the company has established its brand name and message, the next big challenge is to maintain consistency. Customers value a company based on how the brand interacts with them and give them attention. Your message should be in line with the company values and image.
Of course, you can’t create a good brand overnight. It requires constant planning, execution, development, and of course, a product that delivers what you promise. Many corporations though, despite having a good product, are unable to get recognition due to negligence and poor leadership. A good brand not only adds significant value to the company but also retains employees and upholds culture; via motivation, leadership and direction.