How to be Brilliant at Brand Building
Coca-Cola, Apple, Virgin (ahem)... the companies that stand out are the ones that have exceptionally strong, eye-catching and unique brands. One person who knows the importance of this is Adam Bradford, the 21-year-old social entrepreneur, founder of training IT consultancy UnITe Computing, and Engagement Manager at UnLtd – the foundation for social entrepreneurs and Ambassador to Bono's ONE Campaign. He explains how to build up an exciting brand.
"You've got a great idea, a plan for the business and you're ready to rock and roll – and now it’s time to think about branding. One of the most fundamental parts of developing your business and setting yourself up for success is the execution of your branding strategy.
I hear entrepreneurs tell me time and again 'I don't need to build my brand', or 'I don't have a brand - I'll focus on that later'. Actually your brand could be your biggest asset right from the word go, so try not to discount its value.
Branding experts told me right at the beginning of my business journey that you have to make yourself a 'big fish in a small pond.' What does that actually mean? It means that, while you might not be the next Levi's Jeans or Starbucks Coffee just yet, your brand has the potential to take you there.
First things first, you need to know the image you want to project. Trendy, traditional, teen? Bright and friendly, or corporate and clean? This thinking should extend to peoples' feelings and the emotions connected to your brand. When people read your marketing material and when they look at your branding, what do you want them to feel? Colours, tone of voice, and the layout of your marketing material all contribute to this.
Secondly, you have got to be the biggest advocate for your business. Entrepreneurs have sometimes turned around to me and said 'I don't want to be on my soapbox all the time, I don't want to be big-headed.' It's really not about being big-headed – it’s about showing people you genuinely care about what you're creating. Do you love making organic coffee and are you proud of the fantastic service your business delivers? Are you the world's most excited graphic design guru, someone who can really wow their customers? This is what the public are looking for.
Your brand building could start with something as simple as having a social media presence. The world lives and breathes on the internet now, and you shouldn't miss out on this vital and free piece of promotion and engagement. You can find new advocates, customers, business opportunities and development opportunities here. Make sure you keep your profiles up to date, true to your brand values, and reflective of what you want to achieve. Do you want to promote your product or do you want to position yourself as a leader in your sector? Share content which makes this possible, and portray yourself as the very best at what you do.
Keep your branding consistent – talk to journalists of relevant magazines, your local newspaper or business journals and let them know about your fantastic new startup. Local journalists in particular always love stories about people who have bucked the trend and are doing something unique. You might consider writing a press release yourself with a photo to promote the business. When I started my IT consultancy I found great success through approaching local journalists and giving interviews about my startup journey, it gave fantastic publicity to the business and helped me to become known for what I do.
Your brand building isn't just limited to these avenues. You can really cut through the mustard in other ways too. Keep a lookout on your social networks for events taking place where you can go and practice your elevator pitch; meet other businesspeople and take advantage of their experience. Seek their feedback on your brand, the look and feel or your business and the way you pitch. The business community really love to share their experience, and this could be invaluable for you. I did this endlessly right at the beginning, being seriously honest about how new my startup was and how they think it might or might not work, putting others in the powerful position of being the expert.
Keep leveraging opportunities to talk publicly about your brand and your business at speaking gigs, through PR and by keeping your brand's voice alive online. Every impression you make should define your brand, which will emotionally attach your business to its target market and build true loyalty - which you can then convert into sales, engagement and further opportunities."