Is branding dead? Some people would have you think so. But these days good branding may actually be more important than ever!
Why? Because your prospects are making decisions about whether or not they want to stay on your website - or buy from you - in a split second.
A powerful brand that's aimed right at your ideal client or customer can stop them in their tracks and convince them to stick around. A lame brand gets ignored and forgotten quickly when there are millions of other tempting links to click on.
All this doesn't mean you need to go out and spend thousands of dollars on fancy graphics and web design. But it does mean you need to take a step back and think about what your brand says about your business now - and whether or not that's what you want it to say.
Keep in mind, a brand isn's just a pretty logo or a website. It's communicated by everything from your logo and website, to your clothes to the way your phone is answered.
It's the promises you make to your clients. The way your website makes them feel on first glance. Your professionalism. And much, much more than that!
Below are five things every entrepreneur needs to know to create a powerful brand:
1. Hit Them Right Between the Eyes
The key to great branding lies in hitting your target market right between the eyes. In other words, you need a well thought-out plan for creating the right impression with the right audience (the smaller, more niche the market the easier this is to accomplish). Then make sure you create that impression consistently with everything you do.
2. Be Specific with What You Want
A killer brand doesn't have to cost a fortune. One of the biggest, and most expensive, mistakes entrepreneurs make is expecting their designer to come up with their brand for them. This typically results in many rounds of drafts while they (and you) struggle to figure out what you want.
Time is money. The more you know about what you want, the cheaper it'll be to create it. So the more specific you can be when you hire a designer, the better.
3. Let Them Know What You Do
The name says it all. The best business names let people know at a glance what you offer and who you offer to. Think about it...Turning Point Consulting could be anything. As could Thompson Specialists.
Escape from Cubicle Nation, on the other hand, makes a huge benefit promise and lets you know who it's aimed at right away. The Unchained Entrepreneur does much the same, and so does Get Known Now.
4. Select the Right Font
Fonts create the feel. What type of font best represents you and your business? Not sure? Look at lots of other businesses (other than your direct competition) and see what fonts they use, and more importantly what impression those fonts give you.
Check out fonts used for kids toys versus lawyer's offices versus high tech gadgets and you'll quickly notice some trends. Then choose a basic direction based on these examples and how you want to be perceived (techy, fun, conservative, hip, etc.). You can even download free fonts from the web and play with them in Microsoft Word to get a sense for how they look and feel.
5. Evoke an Emotive Response
Color generates an instant, emotional response. While a great logo should look fantastic in black & white, you're going to want to pick certain colors to represent your business and brand. And not necessarily colors you like - but colors that will appeal to your ideal client.
So think about what you want people to feel when they see your website (relieved, energized, confident, intrigued, calm, etc.). Then consult a few feng shui books to see what colors stimulate those feelings best, and give your color ideas to your designer as a starting point.
Bottom line...effective branding is critical. But it's gotta be so much more than just a cool logo and graphics. So consider just exactly what promise you want to make and to whom. Then make a plan to create that image for your business.