Defining your brand

Defining a brand is not easy and there are a few things that entrepreneurs need to consider when defining their brand identity.

By Anton Ressel

I am sure you have all heard of an ‘Elevator Pitch’ – in essence, the theory behind it is as follows: if you found yourself in an elevator with the customer/funder/partner of your dreams, the one person who you had been dreaming about engaging with and getting on board, what would you say to them in 60 seconds or less to convince them to support you and your business?

 

It sounds easy, but in truth it is a very difficult thing to get right and requires some thought and practice, just like the creation of an identity for your brand.

 

While finding yourself in that elevator with that dream contact is a very hypothetical scenario, the idea behind an elevator pitch is firmly rooted in reality. Can you define the essence of what you do, why you do it and, most importantly, why it is relevant and valuable, in less than a minute? Have you taken the time to define your brand – what is it that you stand for, what is important to you as a business, how do you want people to think and feel when they engage with your company?

 

Remember, your brand is so much more than just a logo, or the look and feel of your marketing materials. A brand represents the sum of all positive (and negative) elements associated with your business in the eyes of the customer, funder, partner etc. It is like a living, breathing entity with a personality of its own, and your job is to define and develop that personality into something positive that people want to engage with and support. Here are a few things you need to take into account when thinking about defining your brand identity in general:

 

BE CONFIDENT

If you are trying to convince me, or a customer, or your target market that yours is a business we should all be engaging with, best you believe it yourself. Confidence is contagious and very reassuring, in stark contrast to uncertainty. Phrases like ‘I am still refining the product so please excuse the rough look’ or ‘I know my packaging sucks but it is all I can afford right now’ are as good as brand suicide. Good product knowledge, a willingness to learn, enthusiasm and confidence will win out over any rough edges that may still need ironing out any day.

 

BE CONCISE

When it comes to the written elements of your brand identity (swing tickets, websites, press releases, company profiles, flyers, newsletters etc), less is ALWAYS more. I cannot stress this enough. The audience is not interested in every minute detail of what it was that made you leave your well-paid desk job, renovate the garage into a home studio, take a second mortgage, travel through India to find enlightenment before launching your range of vegan party snacks or self-cleaning footwear.

 

They are interested in the ethos and philosophy behind the product or service for sure, but rather save the detailed timeline and reams of information for your memoirs.  This is especially true when creating an online brand identity – people will simply not read paragraphs of copy on a website or in an email marketing document.

 

 

BE CONSISTENT 

Building a brand identity, like crafting an elevator pitch, requires consistency. If you flit from one topic to another or come across as being a bit all over the show, your elevator pitch will fail; similarly, it seldom pays to change your brand look & feel, marketing slogans, packaging, product focus etc too frequently, because it creates unease and uncertainty amongst your target market.

 

Consistency also applies to how you conduct your operations, and the quality of your entire offering across the board. This is especially important when trying to create a brand identity – it makes little sense to spend all your time, money and energy developing a world-class product, one that is beautifully packaged and powerfully branded, if your website looks like a school project, or if you take three days to answer an email. If you put yourself and your business out there as being professional, you need to have the back-end in place to support the product or service.

 

Developing an elevator pitch is a good place to start in terms of defining your brand. It will help you crystallize your own thoughts and also identify positive elements to focus on and gaps that need addressing in terms of the current offering. However, it is just the first step on the journey to the creation of a powerful identity for your business. In future instalments, we will look at some practical ways to develop your brand identity, and the benefits of doing so. 

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