AppleStore

When you think of your company, what is the first visual component that you think of? Most of the time it’s a logo: the text of your name and your icon (if you have one). Think of examples, like Nike, Target and the above Apple logo. A strong simple logo is the most important element of your brand, because it is often the first impression of your company. In a perfect world a logo comes to stand for everything that embodies a brand.

So what is a brand?

A brand is not just your logo. Everything you do as a company influences how people perceive your “brand.” Your history, who your customers are, your reputation, and what the press says about you. It’s how your employees act and how they answer the phone. It’s the logo, color palette and images you use. It’s essential that when you do or create anything for your company, you keep in mind what makes you unique.

One of the best descriptions of a brand is in Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap, “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization. It’s the sum of everything you are. It’s not what you say it is, it’s what THEY say it is.” In its basic essence a brand is how your customers feel about your company.

Do you have a strong brand? Try this test: Cover up your logo on your website, ads and print collateral. Now look at your materials. Without your logo, can you see a defining design online and offline that separates you from your competitors? Or do you look like your competitors?

Let’s break down the different elements that make up your brand:

A brand takes a position

Every company needs to be able to fill in the blanks in the following sentence: Only (insert company name) delivers (unique differentiating benefit) to (target audience). For instance, there are a million different Pizza places out there, but Domino’s skyrocketed because they promised “30 minutes or it’s free.”

If every company in your area promotes itself the same way, re-categorize yourself. What makes your location different? Do you have a panoramic view or a lake? How is your wine or menu or product different?

If your brand position is promising amazing one-on-one service with your wine club, you have to follow through and make sure every customer has that same experience. If you promise gourmet food, make sure it is really at the gourmet level. Remember, the more your customers have a loyalty towards you, the more apt they will tell their friends and be repeat customers.

A brand targets your audience

Who is your target market? What do they do for a living? What do they read or watch? How old are they? What is their personality? How do you find out? Ask customers that come in to fill out a survey or ask them as they browse. These answers will help you figure out who your target audience is and in turn how they like to be marketed to.

Are you a winery and not sure who your wine brand is targeting? Read the article “The 6 Different types of Wine Consumers.”

A brand is different from your competitors

How do you differentiate from the competition? Let’s think of an Apple store compared to a traditional computer store.

InsideNYCapplestore

If you haven’t been to an Apple store it is a drastically different experience. First of all, there are no cash registers. Every Apple sales associate has the ability to check you from their phone. Their sleek products are mimicked with sleek and ultra sleek furniture. As a Mom, I also immediately notice on entering they have a low kids table with kid’s apps loaded on iPads. Great for keeping them busy, but at the same time makes kids want iPads.

What makes your product or service or location better? Why should a customer choose you over your competitor? The answer to these question, should lead you in the correct direction of how you should promote yourself.

A brand is consistent

Use the same logo, color palette, fonts, tone of voice, images and your core position in all online avenues, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and your Google Plus profile. Otherwise a big fan of your brand may not recognize you on Facebook. Remember consistency over time creates trust.

More often than not, a person’s first impression of your company is made online. Do you have a strong unique logo design that you use in all of your communication? Do you use the same style of photos on your website and social media networks? Do you use the same color scheme over and over in all of your materials?

Strong Brand = Strong sales

Every company should have a brand, even if you are a one person company. Why? In order for consumers to make a purchase, they need to feel an emotional trust in your product or service. They want to feel as they know who they are buying from. As world famous sales trainer Zig Ziglar once said “People buy from people.”

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