A brand is defined by the American Marketing Association as the name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Branding a business is something that should be carefully crafted to appeal to your ideal buyers and be presented consistently across multiple advertising platforms.
What’s Your SWOT?
The first step to creating a brand is to research and gauge where you stand in the marketplace. I recommend performing a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threats (SWOT) analysis. A SWOT analysis will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your brand and how consumers relate to you.
Here are a few questions to ask when determining the strengths of your organization:
How is your product or service better than the competition?
What makes you unique in the marketplace?
What are your cost advantages?
How are your sales tactics different than your competition?
How do you get repeat business?
When answering the above questions, consider customer relations and internal operations. Your CEO, work culture, cost of materials, high-quality product are all ideas to consider when figuring out your strengths.
No one likes to talk about their weaknesses, however if you don’t identify them, you can’t fix them.
What do we need to improve?
Why does someone choose our competitor over us?
Is our competition more recognizable in the marketplace?
When answering these questions, factor in competition, internal workings of the company and how you stand in the marketplace. Sometimes hiring a third party unbiased organization to perform a survey will help develop thoughtful questions and provide you with valuable answers.
Are you missing opportunities that can help you build brand awareness? Marketing is not about direct sales; it is about developing an identity so that consumers are familiar with you and know how to find you. Here are a few questions to ask when trying to discover new opportunities:
Are we embracing changes in technology?
What current trends can we embrace and stop resisting?
Have there been any changes in government policy that impact the company?
Are we visible and supporting the community?
Threats allow you to identify obstacles. When you identify your obstacles, you can develop a plan to overcome and achieve success. Ask yourself the following:
What obstacles do I face?
What is my competitor’s advantage?
Identify quality standards and quality control.How strong are the company financials?
Is there pending technology that could weaken our place on the market?
When performing your analysis include everyone from your CEO, best customers, staff, worst customers and competition.
Find Your Identity and Discover Your Mission
Now that you have this great information, what do you do with it? It’s time to create a vision statement. Keep your vision short and to the point. This is simply an inspirational declaration of what you envision for your organization. Here is an example of a vision statement Continental Airlines:
"To be recognized as the best airline in the industry by our customers, employees and shareholders.
Next it’s time to craft your mission statement. It is important to go through this process because you are building an identity and culture for your company. Define your purpose in your mission statement. Ask yourself how your company addresses the needs of your clients and the guiding principles that you use in your approach. In a mission statement, you are not defining the steps involved in achieving your mission, so two to four well-crafted sentences is sufficient.
Essence is the kind of experience the consumers have when they use your product or service. How do you want people to feel and what is the personality of your organization? This can be a challenge for some businesses because building a brand essence is intangible. Here are a few examples of product essence
Harley Davidson “Freedom”
Creating an essence means you are developing a personality for your organization. Determine how you want to be perceived as an organization. Do not just factor in outward appearance, consider internal work culture. Do you want your organization to be fun and progressive or serious and professional?
Google portrays a work culture that is perceived as fun and has a focus on creating open environments that foster creativity. This lends to consumers that Google is progressive and ever evolving. A CPA firm may focus on professionalism and elite or non-judgmental and safe.
These are the tools needed to create your brand and give your organization a unique personality. The next step is to develop a logo and consistent theme that represents your company and incorporate this into your advertising and marketing campaigns.