Five top tips for branding success

Every business wants to build a brilliantly strong brand, right? We ask the experts how to do it in style

By Ernest Richardson

If you want to build a business, it pays to establish a strong brand. Think of big-hitting companies like McDonald’s, Apple, and John Lewis: they all have a clear, instantly recognisable identity that tells you exactly what they stand for.

    If a painter and decorator turns up to your house in a beaten up van with no signage, you may not trust her to do the best job...  

The same goes for smaller, more local businesses. If a painter and decorator turns up to your house in a beaten up van with no signage, you may not trust her to do the best job of revitalising your interior.

But if she has a smartly painted vehicle and clean overalls, perhaps with some modest branding, you’ll feel instantly at ease.

So it’s well worth investing in your brand. Whatever the size of your business, and no matter how large or small your ambitions, establishing trust in your name is crucial to commercial success.

To help you develop your business brand, here are five expert tips.

1) Establish a strong visual ID

George Atherton, creative partner at New Century Design, says that it’s vital to get the visual identity of your brand nailed from the start.

“Think of movements and sub genres in music. Skinheads wore Doc Martens, pin badges and denim jackets as well as shaving their hair off. Metal fans wear long hair and a wardrobe dominated by black. These visual clues communicate values, beliefs and preferences, and you should do the same with your brand.

“Colour, typography, graphic design and a strong logo are all tools at your disposal. Use them wisely and people will gain a sense of what you stand for, before you’ve told them anything about your business.”

2) Be values-driven and relevant

It’s easy to say, but if you want to underscore your brand’s distinctive identity, you should make sure its values are hardwired into your branding.

    ...if you want to underscore your brand’s distinctive identity, you should make sure its values are hardwired into your branding.  

George Meaden, founder of Squiggle Graphics, says this is about making sure your communications are authentic and trustworthy. Don’t pretend to be premium if you’re actually a low-cost option. Likewise, don’t present like a professional services firm if your approach is more laid back and informal.

“Your brand should reflect your individuality,” says Ms Meaden. “This is about far more than just having an attractive logo. Demonstrate in your visual ID and what you say about the business that you’re set up to meet your customers’ needs. Show people how you’ll solve their problems.”

3) Develop a tone of voice

If the visual presentation of your brand is important, you need to be just as careful about your written communications.

“It’s a smart move to establish a tone of voice for your brand,” says Tim Gibson, a corporate communications specialist who advises Just Recruitment Group Ltd. “It means your words will reflect your business and your messages will be consistent. That also makes it easier for a variety of people within your organisation to write or speak about it, without weakening your brand.

“Don’t stick to these guidelines slavishly, though. There should be enough slack in them that individuals can exercise their creativity. No one wants to put on a straitjacket when sharing the good news about your business.”

4) Use words wisely

If the tone of your communications is important, so too is your precise choice of words.

“I always feel disappointed when a business misspells words, or gets punctuation wrong in its communications,” says Peter Foy, a former business consultant and now director of Just Recruitment. “It creates a poor impression, and could so easily be put right. If you’re unsure how to spell a word, or how to use an apostrophe, look it up on the internet or pay a copywriter to help. That’ll make a huge difference to the public perception of your brand.”

5) Expect to work hard

Establishing a brand can be hard work, but it’s highly rewarding. Jenny Wrightson, who founded Just Recruitment in 1983, says she poured heart and soul into building the company, but it was well worth the effort.

“It’s highly unlikely that anyone will grow a successful brand without being completely dedicated to its success,” she says. “Expect not to go on holiday or work a routine nine to five for some years and you won’t be disappointed. If you live and breathe your company and have a bit of luck, your customers will believe in it, and you’ll see it thrive.

“That’s how you create a brand with an identity all of its own – something you can pass on to future generations, a legacy that’s worthy of your commitment.”

Published: 30 May 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

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