I've had my event management business for eight years now (celebrated in August!) and this year we expanded into training and business consulting. Over the years I've narrowed my interests to helping businesses with their events and staff development and individuals with their personal development.
I've come to realize that I really enjoy learning about branding and marketing so I can apply what I learn to my business. It's also my wish to help other business owners with their branding and marketing. Today I thought I'll write about what Branding is all about and what mistakes to avoid.
Some might be mistaken and immediately associate branding with logos. The logo is an element of your brand, or shall we say, an extension of your brand.
When I worked with CHANEL, I learned the true meaning of branding. Sure, you might be thinking of the double CC logo and their iconic bags and perfume. Those are just the physical aspect of the brand. However, their brand is ultimately about luxury. They're not just selling a product, they're selling a dream. The dream of living in luxury. Make sense?
In all their communication channels, they exude luxury with a little twist of unpredictability, not only externally, but internally too. Everything is consistent in the way they write their press releases to their advertising copy to their website content. How their products are showcased and presented are also consistent, globally.
Staff are trained to act and speak according to the brand, no matter what position they hold. They're not required to wear CHANEL(except the frontliners, of course), but they taught us to carry ourselves in a certain professional and sophisticated way.
Look at their website, their promotional materials, their commercials, they all sell the same message. They might have sporting goods which are funky but are still classy.
Now look at APPLE products. You'll immediately think of the iphone and Macbooks. What they're really selling is innovation. Look at their big advertisement boards. They don't need to have photos of their phones when they advertise their new phones. Instead, they showcase the quality of photos taken by their customers using their phones. A special feature. That's also customer engagement for you.
What about Malaysian companies? Let's look at YTL Hotels. Each hotel under them has their own identity. If you were to visit The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur, you would have thought that you were transported back in time.
From the moment you enter their parking lot, you would be greeted by staff dressed in 1930's attire. Even their "Parking" letterings on the walls are based on colonial times (think Great Gatsby). Their branding is reflected in their furniture to the mirrored walls to their light fixtures.
So now you might be thinking that only big companies have the need to create strong branding. What about businesses run by sole proprietors or individuals like lifestyle coaches, recruiters, insurance agents?
Personal branding is important too. You wouldn't want to part your money with someone who only speaks highly of himself or speaks about the who's who he hangs out with and brags about how successful he is but pulls out a shabby wallet and refuses to pay for any meal. You might also have doubts when dealing with someone who avoids eye contact at all costs or depend on someone to design your boutique but can hardly coordinate what he wears.
Even as an employee, you have your own personal brand to take care of. Are you giving out signals that you only want to have fun? Or are too serious? Or are too unreliable? Branding is your identity.
So what are the most common branding mistakes to avoid, as a company and as an individual? Forbes mentions the below.
1. Your Brand Is SloppyThere is no strategy in place. Your brand should be a guide in every aspect. Your brand should be built around you or your company’s purpose and values.
There’s no point in just making something look good if the design decisions aren’t actively supporting your story.
2. Your Brand Doesn’t Have A VoiceColours and design don't mean a thing when there is no personality. Your brand’s voice should reflect you and your company’s culture, and set you apart from your competitors. Think about what you do differently, whether it’s your unique approach to problem-solving, or a personal touch you incorporate into your projects. Your brand’s voice should support and reinforce what you do.
Some great examples are how customer service reacts to complaints. If they were trained about the company values and brand right, they would know how to react accordingly- whether it be a serious comeback or a humourous one. Ultimately, of course, it's about offering a solution which resonates with your company values.
3. You Don’t Understand Your AudienceThis goes hand-in-hand with developing your strategy. Your audience gives your brand a purpose. It’s important to develop a clear understanding of who your target is so you can make sure that your brand appeals to them. Your brand’s value lies in whether or not it resonates with your target audience.
4. You Don’t Invest In Your BrandOne of the biggest brand mistakes you could make is treating development as a low priority. Your brand sets the standard for everything you do as a company, and committing time and resources to get things right is more than worth the effort. The last thing you want to do is introduce your audience to an incomplete and ill-prepared brand. Think of this as setting yourself up for long-term success.
5. Your Brand Is StaticAs times and trends change, so should your brand. Well, not change your brand but ensure that it remains relevant to the changes happening around it. Context is constantly shifting, but if you develop a strong foundation, you’ve given your brand the necessary ability to be refined and enhanced as necessary, all without losing your voice.
It’s essential to have a clear and defined vision for yourself and your company. Once your vision is clear, you can use your brand as a starting point and a reference that will help you articulate that vision.
Ladies, need help improving the way you make your first impression and developing your brand? Join me at the Be-You-tiful workshop happening on September 10th in Petaling Jaya. Tickets can be purchased HERE.
What? What about the gentlemen reading this? This workshop is geared for the ladies but I'll be at another non-gender specific consulting session soon (details to be finalized) so drop me a LinkedIn message with your contact details and I'll be happy to see how I can help you with your branding too.
Can't attend any events but still want to learn? I'm creating a new branding and marketing blog soon and I would love to know how I can help you and others. So, drop me a message about what you need help with!
Have a great week!