I am sure you’ve heard of the famous English saying, “Never Judge A Book By Its Cover”, which means never prejudge something only by its outward appearance. In the world of business, this saying is somewhat inapplicable and irrelevant. We certainly do judge a book by its cover! Actually, the cover means everything and is a fundamental tool to boosting sales and driving revenue.
A Short Story
I remember a few years ago I met two great business people that were pretty much cut from the same cloth. They knew each other very well as they were old friends, went to the same school, were equally educated, passionate about the same things and both ran businesses that do the exact same thing and were established around the same time.
However, the businesses were not equally successful as one was worth hundreds of millions of rands and the other was just a small-medium enterprise. For the purposes of easily understanding this article, Company A is the successful business and Company B is the less successful one. I asked myself why these businesses are not equally successful when they offer identical services, ran by people with similar characteristics, and both started around the same time?
This bothered me for a while and I just could not let it go, so as a marketing and branding expert I did a quick analysis to map out the possible causes of why Company A grew so fast and Company B couldn’t. It did not take very long to discover why Company B failed to grow rapidly, among many factors, lack of branding was the leading cause.
The 5 Things You Need To Grow Your Brand
A brand is a living and breathing organism of every business that must be carefully nurtured and yet in so many instances it has been often ignored and taken for granted. The key to rapidly growing your business is building a brand!
Many branding experts would tell you about brand image, brand identity, brand positioning, brand personality, and mention a whole lot of confusing jargon that is not easily understandable to someone who did not study Marketing & Branding. Put simply, what those branding experts are trying to tell you is that you need to do only 5 things.
Know Your Why
Branding does not start with your logo, it starts with your why. As a matter of fact, the business itself starts with “why”. If the reason you started a business is to make money then you should not be in business, because business is not about money generation. It is rather about satisfying needs that people are willing to pay for. You see a struggle in society, come up with an idea to address that struggle and sell your solution to that struggling part of society. So, your why is the result that people receive when they utilise your solution.
People do not buy the product, they buy the brand
For example, the “why” for 25th Hour Digital is not to build beautiful websites and craft really good digital marketing campaigns, although that’s what we do, but our why is growing businesses. It is the result you get after we have built you an awesome website and crafted you winning digital marketing campaigns. Your “why” is a massive contributor to your branding and where it all starts and all outbound communication about your business should always talk about your “why”.
Design Is Key
This is now where the logo comes in and everything else that requires design. The design says a lot about your brand and things like colour schemes, special icons, fonts, even the name of the business are the key components to design. Do not choose a brand colour merely because it is your favourite as colours have a direct impact on people’s emotional state.
For example, red is loud, strong, full of energy and could be used to describe passion, danger, aggression, and even love. That’s why valentine’s day themes are red and white. Whereas green is a “safe” colour. You cross the road when the traffic lights go green because it’s a signal of safety. It also means eco-friendly, natural, healthy, etc. and that’s why a lot of nature-related businesses have green logos.
The most important component of design is the special icon. This literally defines your brand and everything your business is about! When you see the blueish flying bird icon, the navy-blue bold small case F, and the bitten apple, what comes to mind? You are obviously thinking of the same brands I have in mind and you would agree with me that these icons enhance brand image and identity. Every brand needs a special icon that is a unique identifier of the brand so as to establish a deeper emotional connection with your target audience.
Sip Your Own Tea
Practicing what you preach is very important. If a company claims to offer a certain solution to address a certain struggle, the fruits of utilising the solution must be seen just by looking at the company, so judge a book by its cover. If a company claims to do graphic designing, web development, and photography, it must obviously have its branding in place, must have a website which showcases their photography right? But if they have none of those and instead use a simple black board outside their store on which they’ve written in chalk what they do (see picture above). Would anyone believe that they can do what they say they do? Absolutely not!
Create Your Corporate Culture
Yes, corporate culture is part of branding! Your values, philosophy, mission and vision statement all form your corporate culture.
This corporate culture is not only internal, but can be used strongly to formulate your brand and showcase it to external stakeholders. It shows your true essence, and why your business exists in the first place and should be boldly exclaimed and most importantly followed. With many businesses, company values are just hung on office walls and forgotten about, but this is something that truly builds your brand value proposition and should be taken very seriously.
When you think of Hubspot after you have read through their website, you will never forget that their vision is to grow companies through top-notch inbound marketing strategies. Their corporate culture is clearly displayed on their social media pages, website, and all other marketing platforms they use. This adds so much value to the brand and builds a lot of trust around it.
Kiss And Tell
This is by far the most important element to building a successful brand, is to ensure that you deliver the experience you were hired to deliver, and brag about it (You’ve earned it!)
You can have the best sales team in the world but if you do not have good branding you will never reach your full potential as a business. This not only applies to businesses but also to public figures, musicians, politicians, thought leaders, activists, etc. As Simon Sinek once said, “Martin Luther King said he has a dream, he didn’t say he has a plan”. People bought into his brand and filled up Lincoln memorial to listen to his speech. Same goes for Nelson Mandela, he was fully branded and ticks all the 4 key points we discussed. As a result, people bought into his brand and he will be an icon that will never be forgotten.
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