Why you should brand your start-up

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What is branding? Why is it important to my business?

Simply put, a brand is a company’s personality, its promise to its customers. Branding is about seizing every opportunity to express this personality in order for your clients to see you as the only one providing a solution to their problem.

Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is their gut feeling about your company.

A company with a strong brand is therefore invaluable, it stands out in a densely crowded marketplace, emotionally connects with customers and is the platform to create lifelong partnerships.

What easy first steps can I take to build my brand?

Unfortunately many Nigerian entrepreneurs and start-ups decide to handle their own branding. Designing logos and developing adverts that inadequately portray the values and goals of the company.

The biggest problem with this trend is the fact that these companies will inevitably lose the ability to leverage on the opportunities a strong brand presents; the chance to connect with and form lifelong relationships with its customers.

My advice is to start afresh and look deeper, to ask yourself some fundamental questions. Do this simple exercise, set up a meeting with your key employees and ask yourselves the following:

  • What is our company”s purpose and what does it stand for ?
  • What are the benefits and features of our products or services ?
  • What do our customers and prospects already think of our company ?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with our company ?

Document your findings, as they will be critical to establishing your brand values and promise.

I don”t have a large marketing budget what should I first invest in?

If you have not specified your company”s brand, please do not spend another dime on marketing until you do. Once you have defined your brand, you can:

Conduct research, define your core market and what they want In order to effectively market and develop your brands, determine who your core market is and what is important to them. You need to find out what your audience wants, and then your brand”s strengths and weaknesses.

Create a brand identity, a company image that is instantly recognisable Enlist the services of a professional design agency to create your brands identity based on your above research. Visual devices such as a logo, colour palette, font and style… are used to create your company image, assembled within a set of guidelines.

These guidelines outline how the identity is applied coherently throughout a variety of mediums. That means from your facebook and twitter to your brochure or website, your brand as a whole should be instantly recognizable and consistent.

Clarify your key brand messaging Whether it”s about customer service or quality guarantees. Put them down in the form of a booklet mobile casino or manual, and give it to your employees. All your employees should not only be aware but embody your brand attributes.

Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand Create a voice that’s applied to all written communication and fits in with all your visual imagery. Is your brand friendly? Conversational? Is it formal? Or quirky?

Develop a tagline Create a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand. A tagline that should always be used with your logo.

Summarising my top Do”s and Dont”s for someone new to branding:

DO

  • Do Realize how important branding is. Tackle brand and brand development as central to the success of your company. •
  • Do invest in a professionally created brand identity. This is not something you can “figure out yourself” without experience. Pay for the expertise.
  • Do be consistent across platforms. The more consistent you are the quicker people will begin to recognize your brand.

DON’T

  • Don’t enforce your opinions and taste. If you want your branding done right, put aside your opinions in favour of those that count, those of your target market and the true branding professional.
  • Don’t forget your employees. They are your brand ambassadors and essential to your success. Arm them with adequate brand knowledge and resources.
  • Don’t underestimate your competition. Focus your brand on how you are different. Get to know your direct and indirect competition well, look at them all realistically and learn how to focus your brand on those differences.
  • Don”t forget to protect your branding legally with a trademark registration. Finding out that you’re infringing on an existing trademark name or that your brand has been hijacked by someone who did register it, is both an expensive and heart-breaking mistake.

In Conclusion

Being an entrepreneur in Nigeria is a high-risk, high-reward position. We have all heard the saying; “You can do anything if you set your mind to it.” For entrepreneurs, this adage couldn”t be truer.

So remember, customers’ experience your brand through your advertising, packaging, price, website, and even your employees. Each of these touchpoints shapes the customer”s perception of your brand.

Most importantly these are the first steps in building a lasting relationships between you and your clients. Tread carefully.

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