By James Lowry and Christy Correll | April 19, 2012

What’s in a (brand) name?

James’ Take:

What’s in a (brand) name?
A critical part of running a business is creating your brand. Many of us who have taken the Business 101 classes of life have simplified branding to determining a few key elements: name, logo, color palette and slogan. Are these elements important to creating your brand? Yes!
Absolutely yes!

“What is in a name?” The phrase Shakespeare coined is very appropriate here. We present our brand primarily with our logo. Our logo, however, is not our brand. It is much bigger than that. Our brand should represent the entire experience our customers have with our organization. It becomes how we operate as a business each day. It is the basis for the decisions our employees make.

Think of your brand as a person
There are several methods for creating your brand. One that I have seen work effectively is to think of your brand as a person and describe that person’s personality. Questions to ask yourself when using this method include:  What is your brand’s character like? What does it do? How does it present itself to different people it encounters? Other questions you might ask about your brand include: What is important to it? What promises does your brand make and keep?

Your brand tells customers why they should buy from you. A strong brand gives your company to demonstrate what you have to offer consumers, which will make it easier for you to reach, engage, close and retain customers.

Your ally
Brand equity is also your ally. Strengthen your relationships with your customers and employees to build brand equity, and it will return the favor.

Our brand represents the very core of who we are and how we operate each day. When the customers see our logo or hear our name, it should bring out an emotional feeling in them that says who you are. For example, when you think of a thick juicy steak, what brand comes to mind? Why? We have experiences with organizations that when you think of their product you think of them.

Now that I have given you an overview of what a brand is, Christy is going to give you some pointers on building your brand on the internet.

James Lowry is the general manager of Lightning Labels, an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is a 25-year veteran of the printing industry with experience in digital, flexo, offset, and commercial printing.

Christy’s Take:

Putting a face on your brand
The most successful brands know that people like to buy from other people, people they know and trust. On the internet, which can be quite anonymous, building trust in it is essential. One of the ways I know to do this is to put a face on your brand.

Putting a face on your brand means humanizing it. Online, your brand can – and should – interact like a person would.

Personalize your brand pages
Have a Facebook business page? Post images and content that not only show off your products and services, but also gives your brand a personality. Post photos of employees having fun while working hard. Post videos of your products being made.

There are very large organizations that have a Twitter account for each employee that tweets for them. Others have chosen to retain their brand logo as an avatar yet show who tweets for them by saying so on their Twitter page. Multiple tweeters for the same account sometimes put their initials next to their post. Of course, this approach of literally matching employees to a brand will not work for everyone. But don’t assume it won’t work for your brand before at least thinking about it.

Post relevant, interesting content
Whether you have 50 or 500,000 people in your online networks, be thoughtful about what you post. Consider what content people in your target audience are interested in. Whatever you do, don’t turn your social media streams into coupon code streams. Also, don’t just hope people will comment on your posts – ask them! Invite people to share their favorite inspirational quotes. Encourage story telling.

Final thoughts
The important to remember when building your brand online is to cultivate authentic relationships. Start by using social media to strengthen your existing relationships, then branch out and meet new people. Don’t focus too much on creating online relationships exclusively with potential customers, either. The person who becomes your most active Facebook follower may end up referring you to your biggest client, but never purchase anything from you themselves. With proper tending and a little time, you will have all kinds of online users enthusiastically promoting your brand for you.

Christy Correll is the online marketing specialist at Lightning Labels, where sales are driven primarily through eCommerce activities.
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