Branding: it’s so you!

Branding is more than just a name and logo. It includes way more than a clever tagline and appealing advertising. A brand is everything that represents your company. From your logo down to how your team answers the telephones.

Many of you know I’m originally from Spokane, Wash. With that said, I’m pretty aware of business in places like Spokane and Seattle. When I think of branding, I am reminded of a small franchise of hamburger restaurants in the Seattle area that has been wildly successful for more than 50 years called Dick’s Drive-In.

Their hamburgers aren’t anything spectacular—just the standard meat, bun, cheese, pickles, onions and ketchup. Believe it or not, they have done well because they have established themselves as a serious brand by way of finding a niche and running with it. You cannot customize anything. Don’t like pickles? Too bad. Hate ketchup? Better grab a knife to scrape it off.

This probably sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Dick’s has made itself synonymous with instant service. It’s well known in the area that when you eat at Dick’s, you will receive your food within seconds of ordering. And that is the Dick’s brand. It may not be glamorous, or what most businesses need to establish themselves, but Seattleites know exactly what it means to get a Dick’s burger—cheap, instant food. It’s pretty tasty too!

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that is key to branding. You have to find out what your brand is—who you are trying to target, what kind of service you provide, and how you do it. So who are you? Are you the cheap fast food, the luxury hotel or somewhere in between? What you communicate to your audience is what you use to sell yourself. The “you” is your brand, so you need to be able to define it.

The most important thing you can do when establishing your brand is setting yourself apart from everyone else. Here are a few things to think about when working on your brand:

What is your brand’s goal? Think about what you are trying to accomplish in your field. What can you bring to the table that is new and different?

What is your voice? Your brand should speak with one unified voice. Whether it’s through advertisements or your brand’s online presence, your brand should sound cohesive and speak the same language. On the phone, through e-mails and or on your blog, your brand should sound the same.

Consistency: People love to get what they expect. You should be able to deliver the same quality product or service this year and the next. I’m not saying you should be inflexible; brands should always be in a state of improvement and evolution, but people should be able to recognize your brand year after year and go back expecting the same level of service they have always received. Surprise your customer now and then by exceeding their expectations, but don’t scare them off by acting like a chameleon.

The “you”: The key to staying relevant and excelling in your field comes down to offering something that nobody else can. Maybe you offer unparalleled customer service, or you have some cutting-edge technology. The important thing is that people can associate your brand with your service without triggering. Be unique! This may be the most important part developing your brand. Find your niche in the market and go with it!

You don’t have to refuse to hold the pickles, but speaking with a singular voice and finding your niche—developing the “you”—will help you find the areas you need to focus on to be competitive and develop a solid brand.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for branding. There are so many facets to branding, but this is a good start for beginners. Give me call at 214-528-5775 if you’d like to chat about your business and branding technique.