Web Design, Social Media & Company Culture: Your Brand
Web Design, Social Media & Company Culture
How Consistency and Continuity Builds Your Brand
What is branding? Branding is your organization’s fingerprint, when people think of a "brand" they often think of the iconic symbols that span billboards in Times Square or flash across the television screen in 30 second bursts; the Nike Swoosh, Colonel Sanders, or the Classic Coca-Cola bottle. These are examples of the pinnacle of brand development, merely reading the words most people have a connotation or association with them. Though it takes considerable time and money to build a brand to those levels, creating an image and brand recognition is a necessity for EVERY business. Whether you are just starting your company or re-visiting your brand identity, there are some simple and essential fundamentals to begin establishing your image and building your brand.
Before I begin, one thing to keep in mind is that consistency is of the utmost importance when trying to establish your identity and build your brand. One of the most common mistakes made by those that have smaller budgets is to change things over and over again or to have their business cards look different than their fax coversheets which is different from their stationary, etc. By doing so, you are never establishing a solid identity and your identity is your brand. The first step is always to pick a theme, logo and colors you like and stick with them.
It’s crucial to take the time to develop and create the image you want to portray BEFORE bringing your business into the mainstream, think of the old saying "measure twice, cut once”.
Create a Tagline
Your tagline is your one line sales pitch, it is a single phrase that identifies your product or organization. One of the great mistakes made by business owners is trying to fit 10lbs of "stuff" into a 5lb bag. A great example of this can be seen in the difference between the success of Apple Inc.'s Newton device and the iPod. For those of you who don't know, the Newton was the ultimate PDA, technologically ahead of its time the Newton was sold as "a hand held communications assistant with a touch-screen and pen-stylus that allows the user to gather, manage, and share information". The Newton seemingly did everything, and they tried to tell you in their pitch, and in the end the Newton failed miserably. In the end there were of course many different factors that led to the products failure but most notable was the lack of a coherent message in the products marketing. What is it? What does it "do"? Only a few years later Apple Inc. would release a product that would propel them far beyond any success they had previously seen in the iPod. The iPod was presented in a completely different fashion and have one of the greatest taglines in marketing "1000 songs in your pocket". The statement told you exactly what the purpose of the product was, it was direct, relatable, simple, and is often acknowledged as the root of the campaigns success. In years to come Apple Inc. would revisit a product that was an all purpose technological wonder (like the Newton) when they would release the iPhone; but unlike the wordy language used in the release of the Newton, Apple Inc. would return with a simple, concise, message that would a bring them great success, "There's an App for that".
Develop a Mission Statement
There is a common misconception that branding is only done with external documents and media when in fact branding relates to every facet of your organization. True brand development is more that what you see, it is the philosophy of your organization and the attitudes and policies you portray. One of the easiest ways to develop the culture of your company to reflect brand image is, to develop a complete and concise mission statement. When developed correctly a mission statement can act as a "company compass” providing a structure that allows your company to grow and expand without straying too far away from your core values or diluting you brand.
Social networking is another way to build your brand and the best part about it is that like developing a mission statement or a tagline, the cost associated is only in the time it takes. As far as social networks go, I find that Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great resources. All of these networks are widely accepted by the business world, but I find that LinkedIn has remained the most professional of all the more common and mainstream social networks. To help build your brand you should open up a profile and start connecting with colleagues you know from previous work experiences, college, and also businesses and vendors you have a relationship with. There are a number of ways that using Social Media strategically can develop your brand presence, but perhaps most prominent is the ability to easily share and refer others to information about your product or organization through linked content.
Website Design and Development
More than anything brands are developed by consistency, and in the age we live in, websites are the hub of our marketing machines. Websites give the greatest opportunity to tie together all the various facets of our branding campaigns and quickly obtain uniformity which them our biggest brand ambassadors. In website design and website development there are many different options available; from building a website yourself to website design firms that work in templates and free open source software (such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla), to firms like Efelle Media that offer fully customized website design and development through proprietary software. My outlook has always been that as an organization’s website and web design are the keystones of brand development and marketing, it is often a wiser investment to move forward with a custom designed website that ties together all of the elements that have been created. By giving your website a cohesive professional look it not only establishes, but speaks into and expands your brand, making sure that you see the greatest return on your investment.
Where do I Start?
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