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Why Your Brand Defines Your Business

You’re feeling pretty good on this beautiful morning: your new website launched yesterday, and you’re making a final check before getting the word out. You stare at the screen of your Apple iPad, take another sip of your Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, answer a text you just got on your Android phone, then decide it’s time to let the world know.

The new site is so much better than your old one: new colors, new fonts, updated content and service offerings. Yup, so much better than your old look, you even verify that by looking at your current business card —

Wait a minute.

The click in your brain is audible. All my collateral does not reflect the new look…hmm…then you take another sip of your Dunkin’ coffee and think eh, whatever, at some point or another I’ll change them.

And that would be a very bad thought indeed.

PERCEPTION IS REALITY… ESPECIALLY FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS

How you’re perceived is the crux of what makes your prospects want to do business with you. Your business brand is that perception, and your website is only one part of that brand.

Branding  is an extremely important element of your professional success, and there are many areas of your marketing that create it. Your logo, printed materials and social media pages all contribute to the perception of your brand — the look and feel, the quality and the overall presentation.

On a deeper level, your mission statement, correspondence and even how you answer the phone are all important parts of defining what your brand means. These are the intangible elements a prospect will experience when dealing with you.

You should be considering each of these when you work on a major initiative like a website redesign. None of these market pieces lives in a vacuum, they all should work together.

WHERE TO START IN EVALUATING YOUR BRAND

Visual association is always the first step in branding. As for the company name-dropping above, there’s a reason you know them, and it started with their look. When you think of Dunkin’ Donuts, what image first comes to mind? Odds are it’s their logo, your visual association of that brand. That logo is the basis of everything else that you see from that company: website, signage, ads, etc. If their (or your) look isn’t consistent, the recognition of the branding effort is lost.

When creating (or recreating) your company brand, consider the following:

  1. Keep it simple. A simple name, logo and tagline all add up to a simple solution for any prospect who may be checking you out. Save the complications — you already have plenty of those.
  2. Own it. Whatever you choose as a logo, tagline, etc., you absolutely need to love it. If you don’t, you will never embrace the ideology behind it, which of course will result in your failure to realize the brand you created.
  3. Be consistent. Above all else, this is the most important practice. Your logo, company colors, even fonts must be used everywhere, across the entire visual realm of your business. Consistency breeds familiarity, from which your visual identity is born.

JUSTIFYING THE PRICE

As a small business owner, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the price to update all aspects of your brand. But, I have perfectly good business cards, brochures, etc. Why just recycle them and start over?

Remember, it’s not how you perceive your brand, it’s how your customers and prospects do.

Put another way, a brand that is inconsistent sends a message about how well you may serve your customers. Think about how that can reflect on your sales. Now, does that sound like something for which you should consider budgeting? The price of branding is one thing, the cost of not branding is another.

Speaking of sales, while they may be your goal, it’s important to remember that the sale is the end of the journey for your customer. Your clear and consistent brand is the beginning.