Dear Entrepreneur, You Need a Better Brand.

December 12, 2019 | Startup Branding | By PDCo.
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Dear Entrepreneur,

Welcome to the world of marketing, where perception is everything. And I don’t just mean it matters what people think about your company, I mean it matters because what they think turns into what they say and how they act or if they purchase. Unfortunately, perception all boils down to a few important things, all of which can make or break how your product or service is absorbed and what your potential customers will do next..i.e. Will they purchase.

A brand does not exist within a company or organization. A brand exists in the minds of your customers. A brand is the sum total of impressions a customer has, based on every interaction they have had with you, your company, and your products. (Lucidpress)

“Sweet,” you think. Time to find a someone who “does graphic design” so you can throw some money and like, a week or something, to come back with some groundbreaking and life-changing logos that you can slap on your self-built website that “ain’t half bad.”

Ah, young grasshopper. You musn’t have read my previous post. But I’ll forgive you this time. What I can’t get past is the fact that you’ve spent your precious seed money on a logo designed in a vacuum.

I see it all the time. From the birth of the idea to everything it takes to go to market, founders and creators and entrepreneurs spend countless hours researching and developing and testing and building. They prepare to meet the pains of their potential customers, while bootstrapping wherever they can. That’s #entrepreneurlife for sure.

And it’s fiiiine. Definitely be sure to save money where it’s unnecessary to spend it, but on the other hand, know what to invest in. A logo? Nah. Invest in your brand.

What, you thought logo and brand were synonymous?

A brand is a personality that identifies a product, service or company, including a name, term, sign, symbol or design. A brand also represents the relationships between customers, staff, partners, investors, and so forth. (Boundless). A logo in and of itself, does not.

I’ll let you in on a secret…a logo is only a small part of your brand. A brand is the sum of its parts. Repeat after me: A brand is the sum of its parts. Brands today consist of many parts, both written and visual, that complement each other, drive a perception, and develop a following.

Elements like the style of photography (Black and white? Half-tone? Overlays?), typography (Slab serif? Rounded? Block?) color palette (Warm or cool tones? Muted? Dark? Bright? Feminine?) and iconography (Flat? Material? Stroke? Glyph?) all come together harmoniously to set the feeling that your audience  has when they encounter your brand.

Along with the words on the page – the tone of voice (Playful? Sophisticated? Technical? approachable?) and key messages they continually see, form an overall brand that determines what choice the customer will make. Will they choose your brand?

 

They’re faced with many decisions. Not only when they arrive at your website, but when they see an ad online, watch a video on social media, read a marketing piece – you name it. A good brand will draw them in and turn them into advocates, followers, and hopefully buyers.

Build brand loyalty on shared values with your consumers. It is not the number of interactions a buyer has with your brand, but the quality and relatability of the interaction. (Harvard Business Review). But that said, it takes at least 5-7 brand impressions for someone to remember your brand, so consistency is key as well.

Typically, a good brand will start with an exercise in defining a value proposition, key messaging and positioning, differentiating statements and some kind of message map that helps flesh out the details of it all. Together with you, a talented strategist and copywriter can help you pull together a library of content that can be used as a blueprint for developing future content.

Sidenote – these messages can and should evolve over time. As your offering changes, as your product evolves, as the market changes, so should how you speak to your customer.

From the messaging and positioning come the seedlings of ideas that when brought to a skilled creative person, can be transformed into the aforementioned visual elements that come together as the foundation of your brand. In the industry, we call this a mood board or style board, and the perception and potentially, future revenues, of your company hinges upon it.

If you’re wondering more about the details of developing the visual side of your brand, you can learn more in our eBook, The Definitive Guide to Branding Your Business.

But does your brand actually have the potential to increase revenues?

Simply put, yes. The long answer is more complex: Because a brand is a crucial tool for molding perception in the mind of the buyer, the employee, the investor, or the influencer, it directly affects the success of marketing and PR initiatives, which are in turn connected to leads and revenue. And actually, according to Forbes, B2B companies with brands that are perceived as strong generate a higher EBIT margin than others.

At the end of the day, think about your brand as the relationship you have with your customers. Think about how what you are showcasing to the world is either creating a bond or a riff. With some consistent and clear messages and visuals, you have the power to create a mutually-beneficial relationship that keeps customers engaged and committed for years to come.

Go forth and live your best brand!

Sincerely and creatively
Lauren at PDCo.

In this new series, “Dear Entrepreneur,” we’ll dive into some of the challenges business owners face when getting ready to launch or evolve their business, especially from a marketing perspective. Stay tuned for new articles or subscribe to our email list to be notified about upcoming posts.

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