Branding Ideas

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Settling on a Branding Scheme

Branding yourself or a business for the first time can be scary. After all, your brand is your business image and identifying feature. It’s something you should put a lot of thought into, isn’t it?

Yes. Sometimes business plans are stalled due to branding concerns, that’s how important branding can be for a business. When it comes to your own brand, you need to be just as diligent. You assert that diligence by asking important questions.

Your questions should be focused on one thing: brand completion. These questions should lead you to finalize your branding decisions, further cementing your brand as a true winner. These three questions in particular can help you develop a truly killer branding scheme.

“What would my brand look like if it was a person?”

I’ve talked about it before, but your brand has a personality. In fact, it is the representation of your business’ personality. What else has personalities? People!

If you’re trying to pin down who your business really is, actually look at it from the angle of it being a real, living person. What does your brand look like? What do they sound like? Are they in their 40s with three kids? Are they black or white, or maybe another race altogether? Are they a male with entrepreneurial goals?

Establishing a face helps you put into perspective the voice that goes along with that face. If when you finally pin down who this person is, you can further shape your business’ brand identity.

“Do I know how people will react to my brand?”

If you’ve ever seen an article about a huge branding mistake and wondered “how did they let that happen?,” it’s usually because those who create branding schemes have tunnel vision without outside perspective. When the only opinion in the room is your own, it’s easy to think you’re 100% right.

Getting outside data is always important when it comes to branding. This helps you identify the public response to your branding. It’s not always as salacious as a branding strategy being offensive or downright horrible — sometimes it’s the little things that can really make a difference. Analytic data can help you fine-tune your brand from the inside out.

“Is this a brand I can live with forever?”

Make no mistake — you can change your branding down the line. In fact, many businesses do exactly that in order to revitalize their image. However, just as many brands remain the same, or only implement small tweaks, during the longevity of their business.

You may not stick with your brand as is, but the branding strategy and scheme you choose should be one that you could feasibly use for as long as you’re in business. The biggest takeaway is that your brand scheme can’t be slapped together — once it’s final, you have to live with it.

Think of branding questions as exercises in creativity and business knowledge. Asking and answering questions like these helps you stay in touch with the heart and purpose of your business. The more thought you put into your branding, the less likely it is that your business will be a flash in the pan.

Keetria is an entrepreneur, wellness advocate, and brand strategy coach for creatives & entrepreneurs with 16 years of public relations expertise working with some of the world’s leading brands, startups, media personalities, and entertainers. If you would like to work together, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Effective Strategies for Testing New Branding Ideas

So you have to come up with new brand strategies. How do you test if it works?

There’s a certain art to effectively testing out branding strategies that you’re unsure of, and it’s definitely an art that takes a lot of practice to master. Marketing in general is something of a science – there’s a lot of psychology and numbers involved that makes it somehow both subjective and scientific at the same time. Branding and advertising have certain standards, but if every brand formula was so simple, there’d never be a failed advertising scheme or bankrupt business.

No matter how you test out your branding strategies, it’s imperative that they work. The only way to truly see your branding strategy’s success in action is to use testing methods that give you accurate results that you can visualize.

The following strategies can give you the data you need to make sure your recent branding venture is on point.

  • Social Media Competition – Pick two brand marketing ideas you want to try out on social media. Put both up in two different tweets. See which one does the best with your target audience. Don’t just go off of retweets and likes, either – your true analytics data should be what you go off of first and foremost.
  • Ask Outside Sources – Sometimes you get too absorbed in being a boss and worker that you forget to think like a customer. Sure, the obvious solution is to do blind studies with strangers in a controlled setting, and this is indeed an effective method of market testing. However, also get up close and personal with your ideas – ask your family. Don’t go straight to the family member you know will be easy on you either. Go for that brother or sister who points out your flaws and gets on your nerves. They honest and biting critique can actually serve you well when it comes to branding criticism.
  • Go Undercover – Try your branding out on your own coworkers and staff. If you’re a nutrition company, set up a faux bake sale stand near the front of the office. Get someone to say they’re trying to help their kid out with a bake sale or experiment and ask if they can help buy the products so they can meet the set out goal. Offer up several samples – mock ups of your own branding ideas – and keep track of who chooses what, as well as which gets chosen the most. Adapt the method to whatever your company produces and get creative with it.
  • Do a Blind Vote – Sometimes, even in the most tightknit office, people aren’t willing to speak their mind about their criticisms. When you’re testing out a branding idea, don’t ask for anyone to give their opinion directly. Instead, hand out index cards and ask for your coworkers to write their most biting thoughts on their cards – anonymously. Gather and shuffle the cards, then read them aloud for others to comment on the criticisms. This way you can honestly see what works and what doesn’t in a safe way.

How to Create a Cult-Like Following for your Brand, Engrossing Followers to Elevated Status

FantasyFootballLogo_300x300 The Appeal of Hordes following your brand

As the purveyor of a brand, you would honestly love almost nothing more than achieving a form of cult status. Social media brands like Facebook have achieved this, as well as activities tied into brands like NFL Fantasy Football. Recently with about 35 million followers, the activity of fantasy football along with shows like “The League” has more than reached out and grabbed the attention of consumers. At a certain point, marketers have realized that people want to be a part of something that goes beyond just the sphere of themselves.

Once you reach a cult following, if it happens overnight, you may even run out of product. If you can keep the product stocked, you will see more users talking about your brand than maybe ever imagined. Shoe purchase portals like Zappos, Soft drinks like Coke, beers like Dos Equis and many more have achieved this status with more than just placement and protocol. They have sometimes gambled everything to create a persona that people will not only never forget, but tell everyone they know to consume. The initial feeding frenzies drive up IPO’s and in some cases, get the product out of the red forever.

Dreaming at the drawing board

Creating a cult brand is something that is much harder than just creating any brand. One of the pinnacles of the industry, Harley Davidson, formed their cult status because people literally formed groups based on the brand. At the time and even still, it didn’t matter that some of them were perceived as a bit on the outlaw front. When you are really thinking about taking a brand to cult status, envisioning it as a group activity (Think Pinterest) is sometimes a great first step. Along the realms of cult status success in transportation is Vespa, the Italian made scooter that was a driving force in gaining many people the ability to get from A to B after the Second World War.

When you are trying to create a cult following for your brand, it is hard not to imitate directly, but there are some great brands to take a beginning nod from. Trader Joe’s created an incredibly loyal fan base with “Two buck chuck” wine, and a selection that feels like a local market, has uncommon items, and tries to shy away from steep prices. When looking at truly becoming a cult brand, there are really two most important elements to investigate; creating a community of customers, and selling an overall lifestyle.

How could my brand do these things?

One successful thing that brands have done to create a community of customers is by encouraging them to show off their wares. Toms shoes has done this, by encouraging customers to show off their loyalty and their pairs of Toms in pictures they personally take. Even though to be truly iconic there has to be a lot of other appeals, sometimes risky and weird works. A whole culture has sprung up since about the late 1990’s that embraces coffee, quirks of life, imperfection, and noticing the oddities in the workplace. Having a scrapbook themed sharing platform and/or finding a way to reward people posting the coolest photos of your brand is a great start.

If you feel in any way that your product is limited or not as good as others, don’t panic. One thing that entrepreneurs have really seen help with cult status is creating the “fun factor”. Cars like Volkswagen have mastered this. It needs to be a careful blend of engineering & design, and then perhaps spreading around some examples of the fun and savvy ways people use your product. There are some small startups, pet companies and others creating loyalty and driving good reviews by having over the top customer service. These companies must really hire only the best of the best, and know how to be perfect ambassadors even when times are stressful.

It is true that some companies have been lucky enough to stumble upon these quirky ideas that make their product stand out. There have been many brands that really start to rise up and then can’t accomplish the next level of true attachment to the brand. While there are many things about a product like food that can attach a customer to a brand, examples like Zappos show us that any niche can work. The absolute best strategy is providing something different. In this day and age there is always another person doing what you are; the challenge is dripping originality, and creating a desire for what you have that is unparalleled.