Your brand is the backbone of your business. Of course, financial investment is vital, so is identifying your gap in the market and refining your offering – but how you brand your business lays critical foundations for its success.
Just like the clothes you wear or the car you choose to drive, a brand identity is a powerful communicative tool when presenting your business to the world – or at least the people you want to reach. Even if people hear about you through a word-of-mouth recommendation, the chances are they’ve been on your website, scrolled through your social media and read a few of your blogs before deciding whether or not to get in touch.
A strong brand identity that resonates with and engages your target audience is essential – but it’s not set in stone. Over time, your brand can be tweaked slightly, evolved significantly or even totally overhauled – all varying degrees of what’s known as a rebrand.
Brands all around you are reinventing themselves every day in these nuanced ways. Sometimes in groundbreaking ways that write media headlines and sometimes, in such subtle ways you’d be forgiven for overlooking them entirely.
In some cases, it’s a bold change of brand name and in others, it’s a simple, understated shift from one Pantone shade to another. Whatever it may be – whether it’s a new logo, a new website, a new colour palette or a whole new mission statement – it’s all part of constructing your brand narrative and the story that makes your customers and competitors sit up and listen.
When you hit the nail on the head with your branding, you can reap the following rewards:
• As the old adage goes, first impressions count and when your branding is in check, it does all the hard work for you – before you’ve even spoken to a potential client.
• Less unsuccessful pitching and lead gen because you’re speaking to the right people and attracting the right audience.
• Your meetings become fewer, shorter and more valuable as you hone your efforts on the right demographic.
• An audience who has faith in you – a brand that is sure about itself is one that a client will feel they can trust and rely on.
In this article, we share our advice on how to create, nurture and evolve an ecommerce accountancy brand that will stand out in a crowded marketplace and withstand the test of time. This includes:
• Knowing your audience like the back of your hand
• Considering your logo, brand name and aesthetic carefully
• Learning that there’s more to a brand than meets the eye
• Reviewing your brand identity regularly
• Understanding the importance of originality and consistency
Get to know your audience
Before you can build a brand, construct a tone of voice and steer your unique messaging and value propositions, you need to know who you’re targeting. Once you’ve got a clear idea about the demographic you want to engage, you can start tailoring a brand identity that is going to turn their heads. This applies whether you’re starting from scratch or if you’re embarking on a brand refresh.
This includes everything from your values and visual aesthetic to the types of content you put out – and where you publish. For example, if your target demo consists largely of young ecommerce entrepreneurs with creative startups, they’ll likely be more receptive to content on social media platforms than an older audience who still appreciates print communications.
Consider your logo, brand colours and name carefully
As we touched on earlier, the visual aesthetics and external elements of your brand are just like clothes, make-up or a hairstyle – they speak volumes before any contact has even been made. When somebody sees your logo, brand name, copy and brand colours somewhere – online or offline – you want these elements to send the right message.
Blue, for example, is a common colour in accountancy branding as it sends out signals of trust and stability – but then, how are you going to make sure you stand out from the crowd? Additionally, your name and logo should be symbolic or even descriptive of what your service is so that people recognise this without having to be told. Make life as easy as possible for the customer – do the hard work for them with well-thought-out branding.
It’s critical that you dedicate sufficient time and energy to refining the visual identity of your brand – this certainly isn’t something that should be rushed out the door. In fact, if budgets allow it, we’d even recommend working with a branding expert who can steer you in the right direction, whether it’s a new brand or an evolving identity.
Understand that brand identity goes beyond what the eye can see
When thinking and talking about brand, no matter what industry you’re in, it’s easy to get swept away by the glamour of colour combinations, shiny new websites and social media content. However, what’s also vital to consider are the invisible elements of a brand’s identity such as your processes, your people, customer service, website UX, etc.
All of these things go beyond the visible, aesthetic features of a brand to establish its ethos, its practices and the values you want your clients to resonate with. The suppliers you worth with, the contractors you use, the employees you hire – these types of things are as integral to building and maintaining a strong brand as anything else.
Review your brand identity regularly
This doesn’t necessarily mean an entire rebrand but it’s advisable to review your brand – and everything that encompasses its identity – on a regular basis. Although there’s no prescriptive rule around precisely how often, an annual regroup is a great place to start.
You might not come away from this exercise with any action points, or you might decide then is the time to develop parts of your brand – invisible or not. Either way, it’s important to take stock and ensure that your brand is performing to its full potential and if not, take measures to address any areas for improvement.
Remember: consistency and originality are key
Last but certainly not least is the paramount importance of remembering to keep your brand and your content original and consistent. VP of Software Technology at Apple, Bud Tribble once said: “If you take something and make it your own, it’s your design and that is the dividing line between copying and stealing” – and it’s so accurate.
You can be inspired by other leaders in your field but make sure you’re still unique. Where consistency is concerned, become a dedicated guardian of your brand so that your identity and values remain uniform and distinct.