discovering your ‘brand’

How to build stability and growth for your company’s services
By Faith Seekings

Brand is the emotional connection between a company and its clients. More than just a logo, brand is reflected in everything you do, across every mode of communication.

Consider one of Canada’s most successful brands, Tim Horton’s, a brand that immediately conjures up emotional connections about what it means to be Canadian. A brand also can be evolved. TD is one of the few banks to get on the “best managed brand” list after it “made over” its brand into “Banking can be this comfortable”.

Although these are well-known brands, the same principals apply to your own business brand development. By answering a few questions, you can begin to develop your own brand.

Who are your ideal clients?
Brand must be consistent in messaging, quality and look to make the right emotional connection with its audience. You first need to find out about your ideal clients. What is their age and sex? What do they read and watch? Where do they hang out? What do they do? What is their family status? What is their buying motivation? Have they used your type of services before? What challenges are they facing now, what will they feel like after you’ve helped?

How are you perceived?
Next find out accurately how you are perceived. This revealing process is best done through a third party who interviews current or former clients. Compare the results to a list of how you wish to be perceived, i.e. high-end boutique, mass market and inexpensive, etc. Compare the two and define changes you need to make.

What is it that you do better than anyone else?
This answer takes your brand from ho-hum to distinct. What sets you apart from the competition? Think about how you do what you do, and why you do it this way. Perhaps you have a unique process. Dig deeper still. What are some stereotypes in your industry and how do you challenge these?

Designing your brand successfully
Now define your brand. Remember, you must portray your answers above in every form of communication: business cards, web site, email signature, newsletters, as well as business practices. Think about how everything works together. You present an elevator pitch and a business card — does this reflect how you answer the telephone?

Trust in a brand steward
The best way to make sure your brand message is conveyed consistently is to work with one company who becomes your brand steward, taking care of all marketing tools, promotes the value of brand, not just one that designs nice logos. A good brand steward makes sure your brand creates the right emotional connection and communicates in a compelling and memorable way. This includes suggestions for brand management so that the impression you leave conveys a powerful, consistent message.

A good brand will continue to support the emotional connection between your company and your audience and ensure stability and growth for your products and services.