1-2-1 brand advice for startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses

Why you need to think about your brand before creating your branding

Your brand is the story you tell and the connection you have with your customer. Define this first and powerful branding will follow.

Think your brand and your branding are the same thing, right? Wrong.

This is a mistake that manystart-ups and small business make. They go out and get a logo designed before they have thought about the brand that logo needs to represent.

Brand versus Branding

Your ‘brand’ and your ‘branding’ are two very different things.

Your brand isn’t the nice logo and pretty colours that the term is often, incorrectly, associated with. A brand is about creating a personality for your business.

Your brand is the DNA of your business. It should be present in everything you do. From your logo to the way you answer the phone. From the stories you tell on your website, in brochures and social media posts, to how you deal with an enquiry or complaint.

Your branding, on the other hand, is the visual side of creating a brand. This includes the logo, colours, typefaces and imagery your brand uses to tell your story. Branding is everything you do that your customers will see.

Your branding needs to complement your brand. That’s why thinking about your brand first is so important.

 

Let’s get emotional

People make decisions using the emotional part of the brain. You can give them loads of rational reasons why they should do something, but if you haven’t ‘connected’ with them, they may dismiss these for some unexplainable reason.

But, if you can connect with them emotionally, they will use rational reasoning to validate their decision. Or even ignore rational reasoning altogether. That’s when you know you have really got them.

This isn’t opinion;it is backed up by science. The latest catchphrase in the pursuit of getting ‘buy in’ from your target audience is ‘neuromarketing’. Over the last decade or so, neuroscience research has shown that emotions play a much more important role in decision making than most people have thought.

Businesses who believe they can build a rational case for getting someone to buy something often fail, because they haven’t understood the real factors that are driving the other person to come to a decision. Driven by emotions.

Our brains process much of their sensory input subconsciously. Signals that don’t generate positive or negative emotions are filtered out (seen as unimportant) and never reach our conscious mind.

So, for you to get your customer’s attention, you need to trigger some sort of emotion.

Creating a successful brand is about creating that emotional connection with your customer. This is done by defining what your brand is. The values, personality and stories the brand lives by.

 

Emotional versus Rational

The Independent Practitioners of Advertising (IPA) analysed data from some 1,400 case studies of successful advertising campaigns submitted for the IPA Effectiveness Awards over three decades, to compare the profitability boost of campaigns which relied primarily on emotional appeal versus those which used rational persuasion and information.

Campaigns with purely emotional content performed nearly twice as well (31% vs. 16%) as those with only rational content, and those that were purely emotional also didbetter (31% vs 26%) than those with a mixture of emotional and rational content.

 

People buy people. And people love stories

One of the easiest ways to get your brand across is to tell your story. We have been telling stories since prehistorical people gathered round the fire to share tales.

Everyone’s lives have a journey and that journey is the reason why you have got to where you are now. Tell that story. If people like your story, they will like you, which means they are much more likely to like, and, buy what you are selling.

 

But, it’s not all about you

It is important to remember that your brand is more than what you say it is. Your brand is also what others think and say it is.

One of the best definitions of a brand is: A brand resides in the hearts and minds of your customers. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions. Some of which you can influence and some you can’t.

You can influence how you portray your business. And it is only once your business has a personality, or brand, that customers can decide whether or not they like it. If your business can portray a personality that complements theirs, they might just invest in your brand

 

So, how do you go about defining your brand?

Your brand is your DNA. It is what makes your business unique – and every business has something unique.

That uniqueness can’t always be described as a USP (Unique Selling Point, or Proposition). You may provide the same products and services as your competitors, but there will always be something different in the way you do it or why you do it. People are more likely to buy into why you are doing something than what you are doing.

Defining your ‘why’ often needs help. Most start-ups are normally engrossed in getting their business started and far too involved with the day-to-day responsibilities of running the business.

Get some help from a brand expert that specialises in start-ups. Someone who has the experience of asking the right questions and extracting the right information from your answers.

They will help you to identify your ‘why’, why it is relevant to your customers and how to communicate it in the most effective way.

Defining your brand will give you focus and confidence as you start and grow your business.

 

‘On brand’ checklist

Once you have defined your brand, you should create an ‘on brand’ checklist. This is so you can check that everything you do – whether it is copy for your website, a post on social media or an advertisement -is on brand.

If it ticks all the boxes, then you are portraying a consistent brand. If it doesn’t, you should seriously question whether you should be doing it; because if it is not ‘on brand’, your customers will be seriously questioning why you did it.

 

So, brand first, then branding.

Only once you have defined your brand should you think about getting your logo designed. You can use your brand as the brief to the designer. That way, you are much more likely to get a logo that portrays your brand.

Getting your brand and your branding working together and working consistently has great advantages. Consistency breeds recognition. Recognition breeds familiarity. Familiarity breeds trust. And trust breeds confidence.

If your customers have trust and confidence in your brand, they are much more likely to buy from you. And, more importantly, they are much more likely to become advocates for your brand.