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Six ways to enhance your brand

A brand, according to BusinessDictionary.com, is a “unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors”.

Over time, this image becomes associated with a certain level of credibility and a distinct personality. They might have similar offerings, but you wouldn’t get Microsoft mixed up with Apple, or Burger King with McDonald’s.

Developing an instantly-recognisable brand is something every business strives for, but this means you need a strong and clear identity. You must also be aware of the perceptions of others so that if necessary you can take steps to improve the way they see your brand.

So how do you establish a credible, trustworthy brand? You can start with a few simple steps:

  1. Know yourself (or rather your brand).

What are the qualities your business is built on? What do you want to be known for? Ask someone what words come to mind when they think of Apple, and the answer won’t simply be ‘phones and computers’. Beautiful design, premium quality and innovation will be up there too.

Think of the words you’d like to be synonymous with your business. Not too many, as this could lead to mixed messages and confuse your customers; just choose four or five to define your vision and put them at the heart of all your marketing.

  1. Take an outside view.

Where is your brand right now? Why do your customers choose you? Answering this question means being honest – if it’s because you’re cheaper than your competitors rather than due to the quality of the product or service you offer, say so. How do you compare to other businesses in the same sector?

Seek third-party opinions if it will help you – contacts, clients, friends. Once you clarify your starting point, it’s easier to work towards where you want to be.

  1. Think about how you can attract the customers you want.

Your brand needs to resonate with what your target audience cares about. As a training company, you’re not just selling courses that lead to qualifications – you’re offering people the opportunity to grasp a brighter future through outstanding professional development.

Once you reframe your offering, you’ll be able to assess whether brand elements such as your logo and imagery reflect your purpose. It might be that to establish yourself where you want to be, you need to make some design changes to appeal to the audience you want to attract.

  1. Communicate with your colleagues.

It’s not just your website, your marketing materials or your social media profiles that will build your business. Everyone in your company is a brand ambassador so they need to know exactly what it stands for.

Ensure everyone is clear on what you want to deliver, how you operate and the standards you expect. Decide on your brand promise and make sure everyone knows it – and acts accordingly.

  1. Never under-estimate the importance of first impressions.

People will form an opinion of your brand based on their first experience, and once this happens, it’s difficult to change their minds. It follows, then, that you need to do all you can to make their first impression of your brand a positive one.

What happens when they call you, visit your website, look at one of your flyers or interact with you on social media? What do they see? Right from the off, contact with your customers should reinforce your brand promise and the image you want to portray.

  1. Be consistent.

This should extend through every aspect of your business, from customer interaction and your online presence to your PR activity and marketing campaigns.

From a visual perspective, your brand should be instantly recognisable. Work with your graphic design team to establish guidelines that everyone adheres to for everything from email signatures to adverts. Spending time and effort now will pay off in the future.

When people know what to expect from you, they start to trust you. They’ll recommend you based on the positive qualities they associate with your business. Your reputation starts to grow – your brand becomes established.

You can’t control what everyone thinks of your brand, but If you are clear on what you stand for and have a strong identity, you can go a long way to shaping their views.

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