Top 10 Rules of Branding

Businesses invest a lot of time, money and energy into their brand, but pitfalls of branding can often undermine all of that hard work. Here are some guidelines that will help you get the best return on your investment.

1. Brand ≠ Logo

Your brand is NOT your logo; or rather, it is not just your logo. Your brand is how people remember you. Being stuck in the mindset that your brand is one or few elements is a common mistake and undervalues its power and significance. Your brand is your verbal and visual identity and should tell a story. People relate to stories and they are easier to remember than lists or facts. Your brand is what people say about your company or your business when you’re not in the room.

2. Invest in your brand.

Be willing to invest in your brand and you will see the results in dollars returned to your company. If you’re going to spend money on only one thing – it should be your logo. Once you establish a solid brand foundation, you can decrease your marketing budget and still have great results.

3. Don’t try to please everyone.

Be careful about collecting too many opinions. Friends and family love you and want you to succeed, so they will often be the most outspoken with feedback. Remember, no great company out there has ever made everyone in the boardroom happy.

4. Don’t complicate things.

Keep it simple (…stupid). “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”– Thomas Jefferson. If you need to explain it, you’ve failed.

5. Let it go!

Both you and your audience can be attached to your brand. Brand attachment is great, but make sure you’re attached for the right reasons. If your current brand is not generating the success you are looking for, then take a deep breath and let it go.

6. Don’t change for the sake of change.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Rebranding is necessary in some cases, but should never be your first option. You also have to give you brand time to build – it’s not an overnight process.

7. Never be a copy-cat.

Just because it works for someone else does not mean it will work for you. There’s nothing wrong with being influenced by something that already exists, but copying will compromise your integrity. Branding is determining the things that make you different and then shining a white-hot spotlight on them.

8. Listen to your audience.

This does not mean asking everyone for their opinions. One reason that brands don’t listen to their audience is because there’s an overwhelming amount of noise and data out there. It’s hard to separate the signal from the noise. There is lot of great technology out there that will help you listen actively to your audience and filter what is useful from the mass.

9. Be consistent.

Your customers want to build a relationship with your company, which is hard to accomplish if you are not consistent across all platforms with your branding. Keep things in alignment from your logo and website design to verbal communication style and office decor. You want to tell one clear story in many different ways.

10. Pay attention to social media.

Social media literally gives a voice to your brand. Make sure it’s positive and consistent. There was an incident with Lululemon recently and people took to Facebook to express their disappointment. The brand also started talking on social media, however it was on unrelated topics that had nothing to do with the incident of the see-through pants. Social media listening helps us understand real conversations, real people, and what they want.