Branding is a vital part of every business and it's something we speak frequently about with clients, so it was an honor to be asked to speak about branding pitfalls at Seattle Start-Up Week earlier this month. The panel was moderated by Brooke Hubbard of MB Media and featured a variety of business professionals including Avi Soor and Antonio Smith of the Seattle Gents, Molly Kuffner of Sharply, and Steve Westover of Accell Group. Here are 3 takeaways from the discussion.
branding elements every business must identify before they launch:
- Brand voice
- Brand positioning
- Brand Values
- What the brand physically looks like
- How the branding will be translated into various elements of the business including website, marketing materials, e-mail newsletters, events, partnerships, etc.
Most companies fail to realize that their brand is in everything they do. It's not just a logo or a single product, but how you operate as a brand and how customers see you. As a company, your messaging needs to be cohesive.
companies lose sight of their brand when:
- They don't want to spend money on hiring a great graphic designer
- They don't want to put the brain effort into figuring out their brand
- They think branding is something that comes later when the business gets off the ground
- They don't understand that branding is vital to their credibility as a company in the eyes of a consumer
- The brand sees their single interactions with customers as a one time experience instead of as a cohesive story that develops over time
- They partner with the wrong brands, companies, or individuals and confuse their customers
It's easy for businesses of any size to get completely absorbed in day-to-day business operations and lose sight of their brand. Customers need to know the "why" behind a business in order to fully support it and share it with others. Brands need to be able to clearly articulate who they are and what they do in order to earn and maintain consumer loyalty. The successful brands of the future will have a defined company mission and branding to support it.
what can companies do to face these challenges?
- Develop a solid company mission and build their brand around it
- Spend the time and money to interview and hire a great graphic designer who understands their brand and vision
- Work with a consultant or industry veteran to help them identify and articulate their branding
- Do a brand audit on a quarterly basis to look at every element of their business and ensure they are on the right track from a brand perspective
If your brand has taken a turn for the worst, there are things you can do to get back on track. I recommend a full brand audit that includes every touch point of your business from the copy on your website to the images used on social media. Each of these elements is vital to your brand and it's important to be clear and consistent. By establishing a strategic point of view that aligns with your brand, you can effectively steamline your business operations.