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What makes up your brand?
You don’t own your brand – at least, not in the way you think you do.
And, after all, your customers are the most important part of your business.
A brand is a very complex and evolving entity that makes up every part of your business or, in other words, your entire corporate image – physical, representational and emotional. Your brand isn’t just the logo, or its visual associations. It’s about how it makes people feel. The visual identity forms a first impression, but after that, it’s the relationship that matters.
When you start to build your brand, you need to think about who your customers are, what you offer them – in terms of products or services, and emotionally – what distinguishes your brand from similar businesses, and what the “personality”
Branding isn’t about making your customers choose you rather than a competing business, but rather about getting them to think of you as the only solution to their needs.
Here are the essential elements that make up your brand.
The visual identity
Humans are visual creatures and quickly recognise and build associations with colours and familiar images. Because of this, the visual elements of your brand are vital and have to be planned very carefully to be effective. The logo and corporate identity are the most important elements here.
A logo is a graphic symbol that represents a brand. The attributes of your brand – your brand’s colours, the font you use, a key image, and your tagline – should all come together in your logo. It is the most important element of your brand, as a good logo will result in instant recognition and association. Your logo should communicate your company’s promise in a visually appealing and memorable way.
Your corporate identity encompasses all the colours, fonts, images and other visual elements that are used to express your brand. This identity is then reproduced on any marketing material and is used throughout the company to create a consistent feel. From your furnishings and uniforms to your website and business cards, your corporate identity will define your business’ look.
The business promise
Your brand promise is what you guarantee to deliver to your customers or clients, time and again. Whether you promise excellent service, the best prices or a unique product, your customers must feel that they can always rely on you.
You express your brand promise in your slogan, marketing material, business practices and end products. As customers begin to recognise your brand, your promise and consistent delivery will start to form part of the brand. For example, Apple’s brand promise is to deliver innovative, high-quality and user-friendly technology – and people are willing to pay a premium because they believe that Apple will deliver.
Your physical environment
Your business premises may make up an integral part of you brand, especially if your business provides a retail or contact-based service. Think of your favourite restaurant and the emotions that you feel when you dine there. Businesses like restaurants spend a lot of time to create the proper atmosphere in their physical locations, and treat this seriously as a part of their overall brand.
So often overlooked, customer service and interactions with employees make up a massive part of the overall brand identity. Your customers are people, and they want to interact on a personal level with your brand. If you own or manage a business, always make sure that your frontline customer service representatives understand how to express the values, promises and overall feeling of your brand. Stewardesses on an airline like Emirates present a formal and professional demeanour, while those who work for Kulula are encouraged to be informal and spontaneous.
To learn more about marketing, consider the part-time University of Cape Town Marketing course, presented online throughout South Africa. Visit www.GetSmarter.co.za for more information.
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GetSmarter is a high-touch online education company that works together with top universities and industry experts to present courses throughout South Africa.