Your Marketing First Steps – Brand Identity Basics

Feb 8, 2010

The Questions

When meeting with a client for the first time, they always come brimming with a host of  inquisitive questions. Even though most business owners understand that they need marketing to survive, they often view it as a modern day witchcraft of sorts. They understand marketing can have drastic, almost magical effects (both good and bad) but how the process actually operates is often bizarre and foreign. It is incredibly common to begin working with clients who ask, “What kind of advertising should I start with?” Another common inquiry is ” What kind of advertising will bring the most customers?” The first question a client should be asked however, is “What will your customers see when they get there?”

With this in mind, first and foremost, before even considering advertising, a business must consider their brand identity. Pull out your wallet and look at your driver’s license. What do you see? Your identity. If your business has no identity then it might as well not exist. As a small business owner, put a lot of thought into  your company image which includes items such as your logo, your motto’s and catch phrases, and last but certainly not least, your website. Over the next months and years you will learn that your website is your virtual identity. Every time you pass out a business card, you hope that it portrays the image you desire. What you must understand is that your website performs this same exact function but on steroids. With all of this in mind however, let us briefly discuss what you should consider when creating your new company brand identity.

Before we dive in, what is this brand identity I speak of? Brand identity is the typical attributes consumers associate with a brand. A perfect example is the Mercedes-Benz logo. When viewing this symbol, people most often reference the image to luxurious, quality vehicles. This is the brand identity this particular vehicle manufacturer has created for themselves through advertising, branding, and their product offering.

Logo

What makes a good company logo? Well for many, there are 5 traits a logo must carry.

Simple – Don’t cramp your own style or as father always said “KISS (Keep it simple silly)”

Memorable – If you miss this one then you will be both lost and forgotten.

Timeless – You spend too much hard work building your brand image, do you really want to go through the whole process again in ten years?

Versatile – Can you put it on a house? Can you put it on a mouse? What about your pants or a super-model’s blouse?

Appropriate – Last but not least, make sure your logo is appropriate to your target industry and audience. (Unless you are GoDaddy.com)

Mottos (Tag Lines) and Catch phrases

Some companies don’t even have a recognized motto but this could be considered a lost opportunity to brand your company image. The motto is an accepted part of a company’s identity in today’s world and we all know that you should use every tool available to you. Besides, if you don’t make up your own company motto, some people (like your competition) might make one up for you…

A good motto has some things in common with your logo:

Simple – Once again… don’t confuse your customer with a bunch of junk. Get to the point.

Memorable – Make sure you remember that this is your “forget-me-not.

Definitive – Your motto should define or at least hint at what you do.

Honest – Don’t be deceptive to the audience in your motto. Today’s consumers are incredibly savvy at all ages. Don’t lose their trust.

Appropriate – If your motto isn’t pertinent, then it can tarnish your credibility. A perfect example is people dis-reputing GoDaddy’s “and a smoking hot blonde” tagline.

Website

This is possibly one of the most important decisions your business will make, “How will we present our company on the web?” Not to place any pressure, but you do know that 77% of all Americans have internet access, right? Even more interesting is that 64% of the US population uses broadband. What does this mean for you? It means that would-be clients are actually more likely to see your website than one of your business cards.

With these factors in mind… what makes an effective website is still incredibly debatable depending on your target demographic and web design preferences. Here is a list to help you think about what is important.

Simple – I know this one is redundant but sometimes less is more.

Clarity – Your messages should be very clear and easy to decipher. Define what you do and how to get in touch.

Navigable – People have to search the internet enough for the info they seek. Don’t make them search your site too.

Content – You should have loads and loads of content! If you are the expert with all the answers when people search, who will they come to when it is time to take action? If people come to your site for info, then they will leave your site with a positive brand image.

Optimization – Both your website and content should be optimized for search engines to increase your rankings, your visibility and (drumroll please), your internet footprint! The greatest websites in the world won’t be seen by potential customers if you don’t build content that pertains to what they search for and desire. This is a huge part of building a successful business and one of the first basics any decent marketer will address to increase your market share. Yes, Adwords can help, but who will you go with… the sponsored ad with questionable motives or the normal result with expert advice?

Avoid too much media – Let’s face it. Americans are impatient. If you make them wait, they will leave.

This wraps up a small portion of marketing brand imaging basics. Now, please be advised that these subjects do not by any means cover the entire spectrum of material included within a brand identity. I do hope however, that these guidelines can help you to make more informed decisions as you begin to construct your business’s marketing strategy and brand identity!

Good luck!

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