Branding & Image

What is a brand? What is your business's identity? How are they connected and why?

Your brand is the experience of interacting with your operation (or you, in many cases). It’s the way you do business. It’s what promises you keep, or don’t keep. It’s how you treat customers, friends, clients and competition. It’s also how you come across in print, on the phone, on your website and on other digital platforms if you use them. Finally, it is the logos, identification marks and styling of all of your signage and support materials.
It could be said, then, that your brand is the total experience of doing business with you.

The challenge for you is to develop a quick, simple, and memorable statement describing who you are and what is unique about what you have to offer and then translating that into a “brand” that can be seen, heard, felt and, with any luck, can generate positive emotional responses from your potential customers.

Here is a quick tip to help you define your brand and its identity. It is based on the work of Pamela Wilson of Big Brand System. Spend ten minutes doing the following exercise.

Choose one of the boxes between each of the traits that reflects where you believe the “personality” of your business or farm is currently:

Informal  □     □     □     □     □  Formal
High energy 

                

 Sedate
Leading Edge 

                 

 Traditional
Cheeky, sassy 

□     □          □     

 Quiet, reserved
Spontaneous 

□     □          □     

 Predictable
Liberal minded 

□     □          □     

 Conservative
Humorous 

□     □          □     

 Serious
Rule-bender 

□     □          □     

 By the book
Generous 

□     □          □     

 Stingy
Friendly 

□     □          □     

 Aloof

 

Now have a look at the distribution of the boxes that you selected. This pattern can tell you a lot about the state of your current brand. Are the boxes primarily on the left side of the table? Down the middle, the right side; or scattered all over the table randomly?

If your boxes are mostly to the left or rignt, you are well on your way to creating a powerful brand identity. However, if your boxes are scattered or down the middle of the table, you need to do some work in determining what you want your business to be. In order to maximize the strength of your brand, it needs to be consistent. We have all had that friend that was full of energy and fun one day and down in the dumps another. They seemed like a lot of work sometimes so we probably chose our times to be with them carefully. You don’t want that to be the way your customers (or potential customers) see your operation. Don’t make them guess what kind of experience they are going to get on any given day.

A quick word on choosing the middle boxes in the table: you need to figure out what things you want to make memorable about your brand. The middle ground is boring, bland, forgettable – and that’s not what you want to be!

A scattered pattern of boxes probably means your operation is sometimes a bit of a mystery to your potential customers. You might review the boxes and see if there is a common theme that you could pick out and then develop your brand identity in a way that is consistent but shows the unique character of your business.

If you want to take the exercise further, print out the page with your original selections then go back to the table and select the boxes that reflect how you would like your business’s identity to appear. Once you have done that, compare both tables and try to determine what work you need to do to move your operation’s personality to the boxes on the second table. Do you need a little more organization in your product lines? How about a little more brand clarity in the signage at your farm market stand?

As a final exercise, complete your brand identity statement, using the knowledge you discovered in the table, and answer these three questions:

  1. What sets your brand apart from your competition?
  2. What is the primary benefit of dealing with you from a customer’s perspective?
  3. What do you do that makes your customers’ lives better?

Now spend some time combining these three answers into a statement that fully explains your brand’s identity.

What steps do you take to make sure your branding is clear, consistent and on-message? Let us know in the comment section below.

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