What the heck is branding?
Many potential clients are under the impression that it’s having a nice logo slapped on a bright and shiny new website.
Or that branding is just about a cool tagline telling the world what you do.
Maybe it’s a four-color brochure printed on high-gloss stock.
Um, well, … kinda, but these are just wee little parts of a larger picture.
So, How Should a Small Company Approach Branding?
To get at the root of all this, I would like to take you on a quick tour of how I begin and run a typical project.
When I first meet with someone they usually have an immediate need (or at least they think they do).
Our site needs to be redesigned. Oh, and we need new brochures because we only have five left. And we have a trade show next month… can you redesign our booth?
Well, sure, but why do you need a new site, brochure and booth? And what do you want them to say about your company?
What is your purpose?
This is usually when I suggest how I think they should go about a branding and marketing process… and why.
I’m often greeted with blank stares, hesitation, and push back.
I don’t blame them either. Marketing budgets are precious and someone who comes in and starts talking about a new plan often means more money.
Well, sometimes it does, but what’s the point of spending marketing dollars in the first place if you’re not going to get any return on your investment.
And that return means attracting and converting new business.
Attracting and converting new business is the function of branding and marketing; at least in my world it is.
How Should Your Company Start a Branding Campaign?
First, realize for the small company, branding usually translates to a mix of disciplines: Design, copywriting, online marketing, and promotion. Then, just for fun, let’s throw in a little Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
All this means starting from the ground up.
And, here’s the part you’ll like, starting from the ground up is a lot easier than you might think.
I usually tell companies to start with a basic positioning statement but where do you get the red meat? You know, the best material on the face of the planet to create a great brand and build an effective marketing campaign in the process?
Well, this part is not hard at all.
Do you want to know what it involves?
It is oh, so simple.
You start asking questions.
Talk to your employees and current clients.
In fact, you should track down past clients and ask them if they are available for a short 5-10 minute phone conversation. Most people can’t say no, and more often than not, people are willing to help.
Oh, and when you have them on the phone, make sure you ask if it’s okay to send a follow-up email.
Here’s a basic template to follow:
As I mentioned during our call, I’m currently working on several branding/marketing projects.
Client testimonials will be a very important component, so I’m wondering if you would …
1. Consider writing a short testimonial based on your experience with us?
2. Answer the questions below? (Your answers will help us refine our messaging and create better services.)
What was your biggest fear before hiring us?
Did it come true, and if not, what happened instead?
What, specifically, was your favorite part of working with us, and why? What sets us apart from the competition?
When it comes to service, would you highlight any one thing in particular?
What would be your top 1-3 questions before you would start another job with us?
If you were to recommend us to someone, what would you say exactly?
No pressure of course, but whatever you can provide will be a big help.
You can take this and alter it, but it should give you a basic framework to run with.
But, don’t stop there.
Ask your employees to describe your perfect customer.
Are there common characteristics you’ve noticed among our best customers?
What do you think is most important to that customer?
What customers would not be a good fit for us?
What are the 5-10 most common questions clients ask (or should ask)? I’ll thank Marcus Sheridan for this one.
But this plan is golden, because it not only provides you with some amazing raw material to develop (or refine) your brand, it becomes source material for website copy, blog posts, whitepapers and email campaigns.
It also makes it a heck of a lot easier to figure out WHY you want a new website, brochure, and booth.
You might even discover some new services you should be offering.
So before you start on that brand of yours, start asking questions and see where it gets you.
Interested in learning more about my branding process? Sign up for my email list below.