A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another.
– Seth Godin
Marketing experts have a joke “what’s the difference between a logo and a brand? About a $1000.”
A little bit funny, but it tends to devalue the true worth of a good brand. Companies like Apple and Microsoft, or the NFL and MLB, have all the money and expertise required to build a powerful brand and to consistently “stay on brand”.
Small businesses often do not have the resources or the expertise to compete with the sports franchises or the computer giants. This doesn’t mean you can’t build your own brand in your own niche and with your existing and future clients.
Your brand is more than your logo. It is represented by the totality of your client’s experience with your products or services.
A robust brand will communicate what your company does, and how it does it, while at the same time creating trust and credibility. Your brand should be evident in your social media content, including the images you put out there, as well as the content you create for promotional activities.
Any effort you put into building your brand will ultimately fail if you’re not providing top-notch products and services. If you offer the best, people will start talking about you. When they do this, they are building your brand for you.
When people start talking about you, they are growing your online community. You will want to either join, or create communities on platforms such as twitter, facebook, instagram, and pinterest. However, take care that when doing this, you don’t fall prey to the temptation to use these platforms as simply promotional opportunities. Instead, you need to advance the trust and credibility of your brand by giving away value. Creating online forums to answer questions and publishing articles that educate your clients are two great ways of doing this.
Let’s not forget where we started. Your logo. You will want it to be unique and appropriate for what you do. If you have a veterinarian practice, using dogs and cats in your logo would seem like a good way to go. If you sell tires for cars and trucks, not so much.
Final thoughts. Be consistent. Use your branding, your logo, your colors, your font, and your attitude (we didn’t even talk about your approach to content) in everything you do. Business cards, online presence, letterhead, invoices, promotional materials, and anything else you can think of. If your branding is consistent, your customers will never mistake you for someone else, and your competition will be wishing they were as well-trusted as you are.