Often, we business owners make the mistake of thinking that branding is just a logo, color and tagline.
However, by pushing past the boundaries of “logo” and “color” we can allow it to expand and become more strategic. Start thinking of your brand as something that embodies your mission, message, personality and competitive advantage.
Then, your logo becomes the visual representation of a truly unique package, your company.
Advice on Branding From Successful Entrepreneurs
Take a look at how Elon Musk and Seth Godin speak about branding:
- “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.” ~ Elon Musk
- “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
Many successful entrepreneurs speak freely on the topic of branding and what they have learned over time. To help inspire you, I’ve collected a few good examples and tips that I’ve gathered along the way.
Develop Your Brand Voice
Here is my absolute favorite example on how you can nail your brand voice. I love it for a lot of different reasons, but the main reason is because of the subject it is covering.
Everyone would probably agree, that this is one of the “driest” activities you could ever do as an adult. In TurboTax’s video “The Year of You” they do an excellent job at really choosing their brand voice. They blend humor with inspiration and empowerment and really get people excited to file taxes. I love the position they take on this video message by declaring your taxes as “The Year of You.”
Define Your Higher Purpose
Tamara McCleary is an internationally recognized expert on branding, influence & social business. This is what she had to say about what she felt was most important to branding:
“One quick thing anyone can do to improve their personal brand online is to pick a swim lane with respect to what they want to be known for.
What I mean by this is that when we try to be all things to all people, we dilute our message and our effort to establish ourselves as a thought leader.
Look at your online posts, comments, and visual images. If you can’t quickly identify what your personal brand stands for in under one minute of scanning your online activity, then it’s time to think about what you want to be known for.
Focus your storytelling and messaging around the one theme, passion or salient message that burns within you that you simply must share. If you were to be known for anyth ing online, what would you want it to be? That’s your swim lane…”
Understand Your Industry Inside and Out
Your business is only as good as the people running it, yourself included. It’s important that you understand your industry inside and out. This also means staying up to date on latest trends, breaking news and your competition.
By doing this, you help to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, elevating your personal brand to a higher level.
- The Prego Story TedTalk by Malcolm Gladwell highlights how impactful research can be to your business. The story he shares is how Campbell’s Soup (makers of Prego) finally figured out how to outsell Ragu. They hired a key market researcher who uncovered that 1/3 of Americans like chunky tomato sauce, and at that time, there was no chunky tomato sauce on the shelves. Research can really shine the light on some key initiatives that will benefit your company.
Your Competitive Advantage, Your Secret Weapon
According to Warren Buffet: “businesses can use their competitive advantages as defensive weapons, protecting profits and keeping competitors at bay.”
Look at the three highlights of Costco’s competitive advantage (referred to in this article as “economic moats”):
- Costco spends less and charges less than just about everybody else. Shelves are packed with bulk items, which means more product is moved per purchase, and at a lower cost, than in competitors’ stores. Which lends itself to a very scalable business model.
- Costco has developed a large, dedicated paid membership base, along with a loyal workforce. Costco shoppers are so convinced they are made better off by its services that they are willing to pay for the privilege of entering the store.
- Costco deploys a subtle yet effective marketing strategy, emphasizing value for customers, shareholders and employees. This means low costs, high pay, plenty of rewards, donations to local charities and so on. This model creates devotion and buy-in from all parties, and it helps Costco further insulate itself from competition.
Every few years, major brands will make small or large adjustments to the designs of their logos. By comparing the original logo to its most recent version, we can learn important lessons about a brand’s roots and its arc of progression.
Business Insider compiled a list comparing the first logos and current logos of 19 of the biggest brands in the world. I’ve collected a few below, but you should take a look at their full list to see how these brands have evolved over the years.
The first Apple logo was first designed in 1976 by Ronald Wayne. The border around the image reads: “Newton … A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought … Alone.”
The silver logo is Apple’s most recent, but it was discontinued in 2013. Now Apple just uses a plain, black logo, which was first introduced in 1998.
The first shell was drawn in 1900. The company later fashioned the colorful, upright shell to create a more recognizable brand. The revision stuck, and with few alterations, the logo as it is today was released in 1999.
The first Lego logo was designed in 1935 and, 26 iterations later, the brand seems to have settled on the simple block style logo that has been used since 1998.
When it comes to building a strong brand consistency is key.
The best brands stand out because of their repetition of the same logo, fonts, colors, and images. Once we see them a couple of times (around 8 to 12), they become instantly recognizable, solidifying in our mind a clear sense of reliability and security. Developing a consistent brand is made possible by branding guidelines. Here are some that you can take a look at:
What is one thing that you saw that you could get started with right away? Maybe your brand voice, like TurboTax?Maybe just getting started to understand your core customer will help. Whatever you decide, make a commitment to do one thing that moves you in the right direction starting today.
Does the thought seem to overwhelm you? I would love to partner with you to outline a plan of action on how we can strengthen your company branding and start generating more awareness about your company. Check out my marketing consultant page.