Multi Marketing: Creating a New Brand
First off, I want to clear things up a bit. A brand is not a logo, a company name or a website. While these are all certainly important aspects to a brand, they are just small pieces that fit into a much larger puzzle. Simply put, a brand is what customers perceive when they think of your company; it is how they feel when they hear your name and what they ultimately take away from doing (or not doing) business with you. Whether you’re a small start-up or a fortune 500 company, your brand is arguably one of the most important components of your business. Everything you and your employees do affects your image, so let’s take a look at what goes into making a solid brand.
1. Be relevant to your target audience. Start by defining your target market and facilitate everything you do to cater to them. Do you sell high-end coffee that is Chemex brewed and sells for $6 per cup? If so, you should probably plan on setting up shop in New York City on the path many walk to get from their $4 million apartments to their offices. Because really, your target audience is most likely those individuals who only accept the best coffee in town and have the money to back it up. To cater to your audience, you need to be RELEVANT. You absolutely have to nail down your target market before you can start working on everything else.
2. Be unique. Once you figure out your target market, decide what makes you UNIQUE. Being mediocre isn’t going to drive business. There are likely hundreds, if not thousands of other businesses out there just like yours. Figure out what sets you apart and really capitalize on that. If you are running a dog grooming business, perhaps the one thing that makes you different is that you want to make things easier on the pet owners. Maybe that means you do free pick-ups and drop-offs. Maybe it means you charge a flat rate. Whatever it is, stick with what makes you unique.
3. Be consistent with everything you do. People like to know what to expect when they do business with you, and this will strengthen your brand as your business grows. If you run an online store and you ship physical items to customers’ homes, let them know how long it will take for their package to arrive. If the first order they place arrives in 2 days, the second in 2 weeks, and the third in 6 days, they will likely become frustrated and find another site to use. CONSISTENCY is key!
4. Do what you say you’re going to do. This point is very clear and goes hand-in-hand with point #3. If you promise to ship orders placed by 2pm the same day, DO IT.
5. Be simple in your messaging. No matter how complex your business is, the customer needs to have an easy understanding of what you do. I don’t care if your business makes microscopic wave transmitting devices used in the fuel combustion chambers of space shuttles that emits signals read by instruments on a dashboard used by highly trained astronauts (do those things even exist?), your message needs to be something along the lines of “Helping astronauts get to space since 1962.”
6. Be clear on your visual representation. This includes your logo, business cards, website, store layout, employee uniforms, and the way your employees answer the phone or greet customers at the door. This visual representation of your company should be the very last thing you tackle because it will be what your customers see and evoke the emotional response you’re looking for. Whatever you do, don’t design your logo yourself. Don’t let your cousin who is “pretty handy with computers and stuff” do this either. Leave it up to the professionals. Find a graphic designer or design firm that will be able to take your brand and help make it an identity. Once your awesome logo is approved and sent back to you, you can still ruin it (and I see this every day), by printing your business cards on the cheapest stock paper you can find online for pennies on the dollar. You can have your employees wear shirts with your logo that fade and shrink, and you can build your website from a template for cheap with a typeface that doesn’t compliment your logo and a color scheme that just looks horrid. My point here is, be clear with your visual representation…and value it!
Put everything together in one cohesive unit that shows your customers who you are. Take MultiView, for example. We are an online publishing company that doesn’t have a storefront for customers to walk in to. Everything we do affects the MultiView brand, from our logo, to our easy-to-navigate website, to the way our employees will answer the phone with a smile and do everything we can to help you. Our culture plays an important role in our brand, and our clients know that. We like to work hard and have fun, so we throw parties like the #RockYourAssnOff event before the ASAE Annual Conference in Atlanta next month. We have a powerful social media presence and engage our audience using these platforms. How have we accomplished all of this? We know our target audience, discover ways to be unique on a daily basis and we’re consistent. When we say we’re going to do something, we do it, and our message is simple: we generate non-dues revenue for associations while our clients do what they do best–and that’s improving the lives and businesses of their members.