Its becoming increasing common for your customers to evaluate, and make, buying decisions online. Just look at your own buying habits – how often have you reviewed the competition before even walking into a store (if you even go into a store and not buy online!). This is exactly why branding is more important than ever.
So, what is branding? It essentially boils down to your customers' perception of your business and includes personality, character, and values. Branding should extend to your storefront / office, all signage / print materials, website and online presence, customer service and team interactions.
Where do you start?
- Do your research – who are your competitors, what do their sites look, feel and sound like. Should yours stand out from the crowd or be in line with the industry. What makes you unique and stand out from your competitors? Depending on who you serve (and understanding their needs) will dictate your direction.
- Understand who you are and who you serve (a little more research!) – what do your customers care about the most? Put your customers first – cater to their needs from your site first, start with easy to find contact information. Ask yourself if the copy is too long or is filled with jargon. Is your content arranged on the page so its easy to read, does it tell enough of the story to be helpful, do you provide testimonials to ease decision making, are your packages / pricing easy to find and understand? Will they know what they're getting? We have a great worksheet that helps clients understand their client, if you like to receive a copy – please send us an email! We'd be happy to send it along.
- Define your mission statement and vision -All actions and communication should tie back to your mission statement and vision, and your brand should reflect your future goals. Let's take for example that your vision is to recreate an industry and stand out by turning the industry on its head, sounds radical? Now what if that's your vision, and your website is shades of gray with very formal text, heavy with jargon. How does that speak to your vision?
- Design and Copy – do not underestimate the power of visual appeal. Create a logo that's recognizable and choose a color palette that reflects your values and voice. The structure of your website should be simple to navigate, with clearly laid out text, that's easy to digest in a clear font (not too scripty and difficult to read). Copy should be professional and demonstrate experience while speaking in a language that all can understand. Your copy should be clear of typos and grammatical errors (enlist the help of an editor, or at the very least have a trusted peer review content).
- Social media is an extension of your brand, this includes both look, feel, and content. Use social media to extend your reach with timely responses to reinforce your dedication to customer service, quality information that is formatted and created in line with your vision.
And one bonus tip – create a style guide with standards for tone, voice, style; and includes standards for social media, website design, any graphic design going forward. Do not forget to include team expectations! This is the perfect time to create guidelines for response time, signature lines, tone and professionalism.
The key is – you are your brand, so ALWAYS be consistent!