– By Nikki Busch
It never ceases to amaze me at how many small businesses we have here in the capital district. I am constantly amazed at how much community support we have here for local businesses. I’ve been working as a graphic designer in this area for over 10 years now and have been so fortunate to work with a huge variety of business owners over that time. About 2 years ago, I was approached by Christine to help her create a new brand for her growing real estate team. Fast forward to the present and here I am, part of this amazing team and working to strengthen the brand we set out to create three years ago!
So, what actually is a brand? The short answer – EVERTHING! A common misconception is that branding is simply a logo or slogan. Although these elements are a key part of it, it goes far beyond this. Your brand is the face, personality and the values embraced by your business. More importantly, every single facet of your business – be it your social media profile, the tone of your voicemails or the way you present, market and deliver a service – captures the essence of your branding and sends an implicit message about who your business is.
Beyond that, your brand represents who you are, what you believe in and how you want to be perceived by your audience. That is why branding is so important to an organization, no matter how big or small. While there are lots of reasons why this is so important, but I’ve broken down the Top 5 Ways creating a strong brand can be extremely beneficial for all of you small business owners!
This is probably an obvious one. One of the most important pieces to a brand is the logo. Your logo is essentially the “face” of your business. This is why it’s so important to have strong brand recognition. You want your logo to be simple enough to be memorable but strong enough to give off the desired impression of your business. A brands value is directly connected to its presence in the memory of consumers. Bottom line, if a consumer remembers your logo and aesthetic of your brand, they are more likely to return to that business again.
When we developed the logo for The Christine Marchesiello Team, we knew we wanted a symbol that would stand out to people. Let’s be real – Christine’s name is long and you probably have no clue how to pronounce it the first time you see it right? So just relying on the name wasn’t going to be enough. It was important for us to incorporate a symbol that could become easily recognizable, quick to process and different enough to stand on its own. Our red horse has become something people recognize and talk about, specifically with our signage. People remember the horse, they remember the unique signs, even if they don’t remember the name. Our logo has truly become the “face” of this team.
2. Setting Yourself Apart
In today’s competitive market, how do you stand out from similar companies that claim to be as good as you, if not better? By establishing your brand and its credibility, you give your customers a valid reason to consider you before turning elsewhere. People prefer to associate with organizations with a credible, reputed brand than those that don’t.
This is obviously one of the most important pieces for any business, but this is where I feel our Team really shines. Not only have we put in a lot of work to make sure we set ourselves apart graphically through our logo and other design elements, but we set ourselves apart from the rest of industry by doing things differently! We are a real estate team made up of specialists for each step in the real estate process. We don’t rely on just one person to accomplish the entire beginning to end experience themselves – we are each highly specialized in our own phase of the process which allows us to fully accommodate our client’s needs. This is how we set our business apart – and paired with a memorable logo – we have built a strong foundation for our brand!
3. Creating Trust
Just as people are more likely to purchase from a business that appears polished and legitimate, clients need to feel like they can trust the company they are doing business with. You have to remain consistent in your messaging and marketing, understand your buyer and deliver on your promises. There is a tremendous upside to building trust in your brand, but it takes time. The big question around trust is how best to create it. And the key is authenticity. Simply saying a brand is going to do something, without backing it up with actions, is a disaster waiting to happen. As your audience gets to know your business better, they will start trusting you more. However, in order to develop that elusive trust factor, you must remain authentic to who you are as a business and always stay consistent.
One of my favorite examples of this comes from Simon Sinek, who speaks brilliantly on branding and leadership. If you haven’t heard of him –check him out! He discusses how loyal customers will stick with you through thick and thin but break their trust and they will leave you. He gives a great example of this when speaking of Tiger Woods as a brand:
“He was the best at what he did and he told us what he thought we wanted to hear. It was great, and we were drawn to it, and all of us that liked that idea of the “good guy of golf”. Until we found out it was a lie. He could have been the “bad boy of golf” and had all of the endorsements and a fantastic career, but he chose to lie –and with that, his audience lost their trust in him and fled. Good luck forming trust again Tiger – we don’t believe you“.
–Simon Sinek, author of “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”
4. Power of Emotion
As emotional creatures, humans are fond of ideas, stories, and concepts that strike that emotional nerve in them. Also, emotions score heavily over logic when it comes to developing brand loyalty.
This is where social media can really play a big role. It’s important to keep reminding people who is behind the brand. It’s a great way to show your customers that you have a personality and because you’re working to spark that emotional connection, you’ll have a much easier time building that relationship.
With our business, we are always trying to come up with ways of incorporating our personal lives into the business – whether it’s Christine posting a photo of her kids heading off to their first day of school or Lauren writing a blog post about fixing up her own house before selling it, or inviting our clients to donate to a family in need during the holidays. We try to let people in to see who’s behind the brand we’ve created. This makes people feel connected to us on a personal level and therefore helps us build a stronger brand. Remember though, the efforts you make to create a personal connection always need to be genuine and authentic.
5. Setting Expectations
This is where all the pieces come together. Branding comes alive through customer interaction.Customers can engage with brands in more ways and places than ever before and as a result, customer expectations are higher than ever. Setting, managing and delivering on expectations is important in every aspect of life, but it’s especially important in business. You could even say, it’s a key ingredient to long term success. When you can meet expectations, people remember and share their experience with others. It’s only when you stay consistent (in messaging, marketing and service), authentic and true to who you are, that a brand can truly be successful and strong.