~by Haley Lynn Gray~
Have you been thinking about how to customize your brand? Branding is about more than creating a pretty logo. Many people think that if they create a pretty logo, they are done with their branding. The truth is that branding and brand strategy is much more involved than just creating a unique logo.
Branding is about the image and message you want to convey to your potential customers. Think about these brands: Starbucks, Tiffany, Jimmy Choo, McDonalds, Target, Wal-Mart. Each one of those companies likely elicits a different reaction and a different image in your mind when you hear their names.
Consider Wal-Mart and Target. These are two stores that sell very similar items. Clothing, food items, electronics, books, etc. Even the prices are very similar. In fact, if you were to comparison price shop between the two, you’d likely find that prices are nearly identical. Yet, one company probably brings to mind a very different image in your head than the other. For one, it’s ‘Bargain Basement’, ultra cheap, all the time. The other? It’s affordable luxuries, and slightly posh. In fact, people often jokingly refer to Target as “Tarjay” (with a slightly French accent). It’s the brand.
Think about the insides of each store. In a Wal-Mart store, the lights are all fluorescent, the floors are usually unpainted concrete, and the colors are industrial grays and blue. In a Target Store, the floors are either carpet or white linoleum. That’s hardly a luxury choice, but the fit and the finish in the store is just a little bit different with the red and white color scheme, and conveys a very different shopping experience. If you are shopping in Wal-Mart, long lines have been the norm. And I confess; I largely avoid the local Wal-Marts in our area because they are crowded and lines are long. Target? Lines are always short. Parking is easy, and the overall atmosphere is one of sophistication.
Branding is about every aspect of your business. It includes the uniforms that your employees wear, your stationery, even how you bill your clients. Yes, your clients may judge you based on how your invoices look. I’ve had clients in our home care business complain that our invoices didn’t meet their standards and didn’t look “professional enough”. I can’t make this stuff up if I tried. Just be aware that everything you do reflects on your brand whether you want it to or not.
When you’re interacting with potential clients, there are a few things you can do, for very little money, to give the image of an upscale brand.
Here are some easy things you can do to customize your brand and give it a more upscale feeling:
- Consistently use the same colors and fonts in your graphics. People know who I am on social media because they’re used to seeing the turquoise background with white letters I use on my social media graphics. I use the same font every time, and almost always use the same color of blue so that people recognize it as my brand. The shade of blue comes from my logo and artwork.I am releasing my book soon, and the colors of the book will be the same colors as my logo and the blues on my website. It’s about consistency of look and feel.
- Order address labels with your logo on them. Having your logo on your return address labels is a nice touch. Your customers will appreciate that tiny bit of customization on your address labels.
- Use lovely stationery when corresponding with your clients. If you are writing thank you notes, avoid using anything directly with your logo or business name on them. Instead, use attractive thank you notes that fit with the overall theme of your business. This can be tricky, since you want them to appreciate it, but you probably don’t want to spend too much money on notecards. Some business owners may be tempted to use their company logo on a thank you note, but from what I’ve seen and experienced, most clients prefer a note without your logo. Also, including a business card with the note may seem like a good idea, but it reads as tacky, and will make the note seem less genuine.
- Use stickers with your logo when wrapping items to ship. Wrap the items you’re shipping in tissue paper or cellophane, and put your custom sticker on the outside with a bit of ribbon. This all can be customized for your business. Just do it consistently.
- Use the same fonts throughout your website. The fonts, colors and overall look and feel should be mirrored on all your social media sites: LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. To be truly effective and meaningful, you need to be consistent.
- Include your logo and an inspirational quote in your email signature. Your email is an excellent opportunity to represent your brand. You can put your logo at the bottom of your email, but why not take an extra measure and include an inspirational quote that matches your brand and what you stand for?
Branding is about how you interact with your customer and every bit of the user experience. It’s not just a pretty website or a lovely little logo. Those are a start, but they are only the tip of the iceberg.
Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray
Haley helps female entrepreneurs create a strategy plan for their businesses – so they can make enough money to spend quality time with their family, pay for their children’s dance lessons, pay bills – and not worry about where the next client is coming from.
Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses by sharing the benefits of her business education and experience through Business Coaching.
Whether you want to get a new business off the ground or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.
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