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Are You Properly Branding Your Business? 7 Ways to Tell

By: Eleanor Hecks

 

the-color-of-branding

Having a correctly branded business is essential for reaching your customers, helping your profits and bolstering your marketplace resilience. It’s possible that your branding needs improvement, however. Here are some ways to determine whether that’s the case.

1. Ask the Audience for Feedback

How your target audience feels about your business could determine how often they visit it, the amount of time and money spent there and whether they recommend the company to their friends.  A large part of getting to the heart of your current branding situation is to engage with the audience to get their thoughts.

Understanding audience opinions is an excellent way to check whether you have a well-branded business and where room for improvement exists. You may want to run a few focus groups first, but one of your first goals is to come up with useful questions to ask a broader audience.

They could include:

  • Do you know this brand?
  • If not, what do you think it does?
  • What emotions do you associate with the brand?
  • How would you describe the brand’s personality?
  • What values does this brand have?
  • What do you think of when you see the brand logo?

Studying the audience’s responses will give you a clear understanding of your brand’s status in the minds of consumers and whether you may need to make some changes. Plus, people may bring up aspects of the brand that you hadn’t considered in-depth before. If so, you may capitalize on those characteristics in future campaigns.

2. Assess Ad Campaign Results

Taking a closer look at the outcomes of your advertising efforts can also confirm whether you’re on the right track with branding. This exercise could also help you understand the audience’s priorities.

For example, maybe you have a set of online ads capitalizing on how you offer low prices. Another similar group may instead highlight your top-notch customer service. Perhaps an analysis shows that people engage with price-related ads more often.

If so, that may show that your audience is even more concerned with price than service. It could also mean that you should always mention prices in future campaigns.

Pay attention to feedback from people who respond to your ads, too. Maybe many customers say things like, “I bought this makeup after the ad mentioned the company doesn’t test on animals. It’d be ideal if the brand also had some vegan-friendly products, too!” Those comments can help you shape the brand’s future.

3. Check the Brand’s Effectiveness Against Competitors

Hopefully, you’re already well-aware of your brand’s biggest competitors. Assessing your current branding efforts means gauging how the performance of those entities compares.

You ideally want people to immediately recognize how your brand stands out in the marketplace. Excellent brand differentiation happens when people see your brand as the standard for all other available options.

Kleenex is one fantastic example. There are other facial tissue brands, but people typically refer to all of them with the Kleenex brand name. That also means that many see that name on a shelf and immediately pick it up without much thought.

If your brand differentiation needs improvement, consider any aspects of your company that surpass competitor performance. Perhaps you have a larger product line or more customer satisfaction overall. Call attention to those things in future branding campaigns so that people become more aware of those standout attributes.

4. Look for Missed Visual Branding Opportunities

Brands have numerous intangible aspects. However, there are also many visual elements associated with them. They include:

  • Color scheme
  • Font type
  • Logo
  • Accompanying imagery

When your brand has noticeable visual cues associated with it, people will unconsciously start to form opinions that may encourage them to take action. Thus, strong visual branding could support your company’s success.  Some consumers see the yellow McDonald’s arches and immediately think “hunger” or “food,” which likely increases customer traffic.

American Eagle Outfitters has both a distinctive font type and a large bird with outstretched wings on its materials. The font features the brand name in all caps, with the “outfitters” word slightly smaller than the other two and underneath them.

Consider how you might make your brand elements even stronger. One way to do that is through nameplates. For example, you could have a screen-printed one made with your brand’s colors and logo, as well as the company’s phone number. Putting it on customer-facing equipment — such as the back of an espresso maker that people see while waiting for their drinks — can strengthen your brand.

Alternatively, a metal nameplate with embossed letters can make the text more noticeable, plus help people remember it. You might also choose a metallic finish for the nameplate. Doing that could help people link luxury and style to your brand.

5. See Whether People Know and Embrace the Brand’s Values

When a business has the right branding, people should quickly understand its values. That’s crucial because consumers often specifically do business at places that match their ideals.

Brand values typically fall into broad categories with related characteristics. The bold list entry is the primary category in the below examples, and associated features are underneath it.

Quality

  • Accuracy
  • Attention to detail
  • Precision
  • Expertise
  • Consistency

Service

  • Accessibility
  • Empathy
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Friendliness
  • Dependability
  • Trustworthiness

Sustainability

  • Environmental stewardship
  • Fair worker treatment
  • Waste reduction commitments
  • A future-oriented vision
  • Relationships with reputable suppliers
  • A focus on continuous improvement

Those are just some examples to get you started. Think about which of those values you want your business to showcase as it operates. Then, check to see if your branding strategy supports those aims.

After that, gauge how people respond to your brand’s values. Maybe they consistently say they can always depend on your company for high-quality products, which gives them peace of mind. Conversely, perhaps many consumers are not aware of everything your company does to uphold brand values. In that case, it’s time to highlight those actions, possibly by running targeted campaigns. Then, you may get more customers who share those priorities.

6. Monitor Brand Mentions Online

Tracking how people discuss your brand online is an excellent way to learn how they perceive your brand. One of the most popular ways to do that is to use a social listening tool.

When setting it up, accommodate for people misspelling your brand. For example, people may type “Addidas” instead of “Adidas” when talking about the footwear and sports attire brand. Inputting many of the most likely variations will increase the likelihood of the tool catching most mentions — even the untagged ones.

It’s a good idea to keep tabs on brand mentions all the time. However, it’s vital to do it after making a change or engaging with the audience in a new way. Doing that could help you track unwanted consequences of branding efforts.

Pancake restaurant brand IHOP temporarily changed its name to IHOb to promote new hamburger offerings. People quickly pointed out that the appearance of the last two letters resembled a feminine care brand’s font. IHOP representatives probably didn’t anticipate that outcome, but at least it got people talking.

What consumers freely say about brands in public places online can give valuable clues about whether branding efforts meet your intended goals. The feedback can also illuminate unmet needs your brand can fill.

7. Determine If the Brand Still Seems Up-To-Date

Airbnb, Starbucks and Tropicana are some of the countless brands that have undergone refreshes over the years. If it seems your brand no longer resonates with customers, you might do the same.

People may say that your branding looks old-fashioned or lacks the visual appeal to draw their attention. Then, updating the brand could help you change their minds and regain relevance in the marketplace.

Keep in mind, though, that brand refreshes often cause intense feelings, and they’re not always positive. When Starbucks updated, brand representatives removed the word “coffee.” That decision upset many people, but you could also argue that the brand’s green and white mermaid logo is recognizable enough without that word prompt.

Perhaps your brand experienced a prolonged period of bad press that damaged its reputation. In that case, a whole rebranding effort could be the better solution. It’s more extensive and could take longer than a brand refresh. However, that option could help people conclude you’ve turned the page on your past.

Start Examining Your Branding Today

Some aspects of your brand will almost certainly need improvement. However, it’s even more likely that you’re already doing plenty of things right to keep your branding strong and appealing. The sooner you assess and address any weaknesses, the easier it’ll be to keep your branding on track and give consumers the right impressions.

Published: May 25, 2021
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eleanor hecks

Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

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