Good evening everyone!
I woke up feeling so happy and excited this morning, looking forward to writing to you all! Thanks so much to those of you who left a comment yesterday- I can really only improve this blog if people leave feedback! So thank you xx Ok so today I'm going to be skimming over the surface of building a brand identity. This is a huge, huge, topic, and professional agencies are employed by the big companies to work on this alone. So while I wont be able to cover this in massive detail I can provide a starting point- and if you think my points are valid and applicable you could always go to amazon and buy a book about it.
So, confused about what a brand is? This should help clear things up
A brand is basically a recognisable identity. A good brand, as in successful, is one that is instantly recognisable, such as the two pictured. But if you think your small business has nothing in common with these huge corporate brands, then youre wrong! This is what you should be aspiring to; after all, these giants didnt just spring up overnight; they all started as small companies too. With a combination of great products and great marketing/PR, they have become the well-known brands we see today. And if you think these companies are all about a hundred years old and have had time to build their brands, customer base, and recogniseability, you are right. Time does help. You build bigger brands over time, because Rome wasnt built in a day. But also, compare the meercat anyone? or we_buy_any_car? These are now instantly recogniseable slagans and companies we now all know about; yet a year ago we had barely heard of them. And with a sustained marketing plan, their sales and customer base will only continue to grow. Simples! So, what do you need to build your brand?
You need a foundation to build upon. Your foundation for your company will be what drives the brand and makes it grow. Your foundation includes your company's aims, desires, values, and USP- unique selling point. For example, House of Istria;
As company owner and Managing Director of House of Istria, I set the company aims. As I personally like to have aims that are both achieveable and motivational, I set myself both short term and long term aims. For example my short term aims might be
Month One aim; To raise awareness of House of Istria.
This then might be broken down into sections. For example aims for PR, aims for Sales, Manufacturing, etc.
So my Month One Aims for PR might be
-gain 50 readers
-design and print business cards
-place business cards in 100 venues
These are just examples. Yours might be entirely different. Whatever they might be, it is important to have aims, as these form a backbone for a PR/Marketing plan for your business. Long terms aims might include eventually owning your own shop, for example, or giving up your day job to concentrate on your business, or being able to hire help around the home so you can work more... whatevever it may be, as your small aims are ticked off, your big ones come one step closer to a reality. Make sure you update your small aims regularly. If you find your business is stagnating or you feel a little lost as to what to do next, or even if you feel youre drowning in things to do/things that should be done, go back to these lists. Chances are you havent updated them, or that you just need to work through things and tick them off one at a time. It is surprising how much structure a list of aims can give to a business, renew it with a sense of purpose.
Next, your business desires. This is a tricky one, and one not many business experts would discuss, as it is too similar to 'dreams', and dreams, for many business people, are something not to waste time on. However, one of the most inspirational business books I've ever read stated that dreams are incredibly important, and that you should never stop dreaming because it is your dreams that drive you. This book was written by Donald Trump. I'm quite happy to take his advice, he seems to have done reasonablely well :) If anyone wants to read this book click here So, I'll give you the example of House of Istria again. I desire House of Istria to be a successful company and I dream of it one day creating a big enough revenue to be able to create a comfortable lifestyle for myself and my family. I dont ever want to have to struggle for the essentials of life, such as food and paying the bills. And more. I want to help others. I want House of Istria to be a force for change in the world. I want to be able to financially help my church and those in need. One of my short term dreams is to be able to sponsor a child. I want to be able to give to charity.
These are my dreams; one thing I would say that only truly aim for YOUR dreams, not someone elses. Although, for example, the idea of sponsoring a child might sound appealing, and some of you would like to do it, you have to choose your desires as things you value above all else. For example, I dont currently have children, so when I write I'd like to sponsor a child, that thought is enough to get me out of bed in the mornings and devote myself to working long and hard. If I did have a family, would the thought of sponsoring a child be enough to get me out of bed at 5am before the children work up in order to work to achieve this? Think about what would really, really motivate you. What are you prepared to sacrifice other things for?
Next, you have your company's values. Company values are the set of beliefs that form your organisation's culture. Values are what we strongly believe to be true. These are vital in defining everything about how your company operates, from the colours on the logo, to how customer service is dealt with. The best way for me to explain this is to use another example.
Take a fictional company. They are a printing business specialising in dynamic, bold graphic prints for the home. They have plans to expand eventually and produce large scale prints into corporate spaces(long term aim)!. They currently also produce a range of greetings cards (suitable for personal and corporate clients). This company is young and energetic. Their style suits sleek, modern homes and city-style apartments, and they know from market research that their main consumer is likely to also be young (as defined by their dwelling-space), affluent, most likely based in cities. So, this companies values might be
This then effects everything that they do. Their marketing colours (for their logo, stationery, website, etc) might be bright orange and black, for example, as these are vibrant, dynamic colours recogniseable as being attractive to their targeted consumer. Their blog will be black and orange, their posts will be short and punchy and probably heavier on pictures and design than text. Their business cards will be punchy; probably just a logo on one side and on the back very short to the point details and contact info. In short, everything this company says and does will aim to reflect its core values.
A jewellery maker who creates mainly jewellery for brides might be an entirely different story. From her research she has discovered that it is mainly brides buying jewellery for themselves, and as bridesmaid gifts. Her main customer is aged between 25-35, and has disposable income. Her parents are paying for the majority of the wedding and the average a bride spends on jewellery for herself and her bridesmaids is around £300. From her research she has discovered that her typical customer wants to feel 'special' and 'treated like a princess' (results from a fictional questionnaire) during the entire buying process. So, her company values are
Based on her company qualities, her website is white with touches of grey and lavender. White is the colour of weddings, lavender to add femininity without being pink, and grey for sophistication and a hint of luxury. She carries these colours through to her other marketing materials. When she meets brides at trade fairs, she is careful to dress the best she can afford and present her pieces well, so that they become aspirational and desirable. She spends as much time as she can talking about her work to her brides and finding out the details of their wedding day. She takes careful note of things brides might tell her; for example one bride tells her her favourite colour is black but she didnt think this was right to have at a wedding. Our smart business lady wraps this brides jewellery in black tissue paper and as a surprise adds a tiny black heart shaped keyring which can be kept in her purse on the day. How more personable can you be!
Nearly done with todays PR instalment! I know right now you might feel you arent getting anything tangible, but what I am trying to achieve initially is to get you thinking more like a business owner. As the previous post states, the only way to increase your sales is to think less like a 'designer/maker/crafter/whatever' and more like a business owner. Because you are :) At the risk of sounding ultra cliche, think of yourself as a tree! Your aims and business qualities are the roots of the tree, and of your brand. When you add in all the bits of PR that you can do, you are watering and feeding your tree. Your actual tree is the product you create. When it is fed and watered properly, and supported by firm roots (aims and qualities) your tree will bear fruit. Sales!
It's just an idea, but you might find it useful to write your aims, desires, and qualities down so that you can refer back to it. I keep mine in a book. Ok that's all for today... again, all feedback is greatly appreciated. Really hope I'm helping in some small way. Tomorrow I think ill cover your USP and a tiny bit more on branding... and then on Thursday I'm going to do a list of things you can do to PR yourself... at last I hear you all say!
Have a beautiful evening
House of Istria.