When some people think about branding, they immediately think big: lots of print advertising, direct mail campaigns, special events to launch a new identity, etc. But effective branding actually begins long before an event is planned or the first piece of direct mail is sent. Here are three small things that will make a big difference in how your brand is communicated and how it is received.
1. Consistency begins at home. This may sound like an obvious step, but I am continually astonished by the number of organizations that fail to do this. Take a look around your office at everything that has your name or logo on it. Look at your notepads and pens, fax cover sheets, email signatures, door signage, report covers, checks, forms and labels. Make sure that every time your name or logo is displayed it is consistent.
Some organizations, particularly those who have undergone a recent logo or brand change, have multiple versions of their logo on different items throughout the office. Throw out or recycle anything that isn?t current. The last thing you want is to accidentally send a letter to a client or prospect on old letterhead. Consult your style guide, if you have one, and make sure you are following the guidelines with every application of your brand.
2. Get everyone on the same page. Now that all the materials in your office are consistent, get everyone together and discuss how to represent your organization. Make sure everyone answers the phone the same way, (i.e. ?Thank you for calling [company name], this is [first name]), uses the same format of email signature, etc. Customers respond to organizations that are consistent with the use of their brand and message.
The only way to ensure that consistency is if everyone is on the same page. If you have a small organization, you can usually accomplish this with an all hands meeting in the breakroom. If the organization is larger, you may need to have multiple meetings, or even support the initiative with email, printed announcements or posters throughout the building.
3. Understand the brand. Your brand is not just your logo or your name. It?s the value your customers or prospects assign to that logo or name. If you have a reputation for poor service or inferior quality, then it?s time to address those issues, make some changes and educate your audience about your progress. If your customers regularly commend you on your customer service and industry knowledge, use those testimonials to strengthen the value of your brand.
The real value of your brand isn?t the product or service you sell, it?s the way people feel about your products and services, and your ability to provide them. Once you understand that, you can fully tap into the power of your brand and communicate it more effectively.