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Branding 101: Understanding Your Company Brand

It’s been said that a brand must be best in its class, have a unique set of attributes, or be the cheapest in it’s class – for a brand to be number one or two and to claim consumer “mind share”. If it doesn’t “own” one of these three perceptions, then it might be weak in the mind of the consumer.

True or not, we can still help you make your business stand out, even if you aren’t a top-two market leader, very differentiated, or cheapest. And with a little effort, you can still “own” a position in the mind of certain customers – especially in smaller or local markets.

Your Brand Truth

Your company brand is the perceived emotional corporate image as a whole – and is more than colors and fonts and a logo. It must be authentic and stand for something and possess integrity. This must be true across the entire company, and it must aim to be true across all interactions with clients, vendors, candidates, and employees.

The brand should be internally and externally consistent; we are who we say we are. 

The Brand Identity

Your brand identity is made up of all the visual aspects that form part of the overall brand. It is the sum of the parts that reach across the logo (the symbol of our entire identity/brand), stationery (letterhead, business cards, etc.), marketing collateral (brochures, sales decks, websites, etc.), product / service packaging, customer service, signage, communication and actions and personality of employees and the firm, and anything else that represents, or supports the brand.

The Company Logo

Your logo is both the identity and brand shown as one symbol (mark or icon) in its simplest form used as a way to symbolize and identify a business – not explain or sell the business and/or products or services.

The Brand Essence

Your brand essence is the heart and soul of the brand, and we see it most often stated in one, two or three words in the pattern of “adjective adjective noun”. The brand essence is not something we write on our site or push out as content. It is more like a set of mental anchors. The essence is felt. Driving a Harley might make you feel independent or liberated. Driving a Volvo might make you feel safe.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)/ Value Propositions

To build a strong USP, we need to define the key values and benefits that your customers receive from buying your services. We need to understand how customers feel after using your service. We need to clearly articulate how your company is different and stands out from competitors. And we need to explain how you would like customers to think about your company.

A clear employer brand speaks directly to the right-fit active and passive candidates you want to hire most. This is where it’s important to share your culture, leadership styles, and more. If you want to attract people with an entrepreneurial mindset, it’s not enough to say “we have free parking and 10 food trucks downstairs during lunch.”

Share your important employer value propositions. Mention that your CEO leads with trust, and does not “command and control”. Discuss the innovative spirit of your culture, or what working in the job or company will set people up to do in the future. Explain how your company rewards taking chances and accepts, even encourages, the right kinds of failure.

Bottom line: If you want to attract specific candidate characteristics into your company, you must connect your value propositions to the needs and desires of the candidates you want most.

The Brand Promise

Your brand promise is usually stated as one clear sentence that communicates the one thing that the brand intends to own in the target customer’s mind. It must be understandable, believable, differentiating, and compelling. We want it to claim three ideal qualities: it must be important to the target customer, your company must be uniquely suited to deliver it, and competitors are not addressing it.

The “About Us” Statement

The “About Us” paragraph should be simple, clear and use some (but not all) of the keywords you want to push out through your channels. Try to keep the About Us paragraph to no more than 100 words (not including a brief “call-to-action” with links to website and social.

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