Investing in Your Identity

Brand Basics

Not sure where to spend to build your brand? These four cornerstones will help you build on a solid foundation.

You know that investing in your brand is important, but it’s also easy to waste a great deal of money if you aren’t doing so in an effective manner. As you build your brand, there are four investment cornerstones that will help you both define your identity and create a lasting image that carries strong perceptions and value in the eyes of the customer.

1. Look

Your brand is more than just your logo and website design, but those are also critical elements that are going to embody your brand, says branding expert Nicola Cline, co-founder of, a blog devoted to examining brands. She says that a key area of investment on which some small businesses skimp is their logo and the overall look of their marketing and even office design.

“I do recommend that small businesses work with a professional to get a brand logo that they feel communicates really well for their business. A business may be trying to portray a very modern or exciting feel, but their logo is something that maybe hasn’t been updated for a while or is older or not maybe portraying what the company is all about. You have to know how you look to others,” she says.

2. Touchpoints

Conduct an audit of the various “touchpoints” your customers have with your business. Do they come to your offices? Perhaps they call on the phone. Do they receive marketing communication or service calls?

“Take a look at what you’re currently putting out into the world, and evaluate it through the lens of a customer,” she says.

Make sure that, at each point, your brand reflects the experience you want customers to have. You may find that additional employee training, new technology, or other investments are necessary to ensure you’re delivering on expectations.

3. Perception

While it’s critically important, many companies aren’t aware of how the market perceives them.

“Some companies have a very good finger on the pulse of how they are perceived externally and some don’t at all,” says Randall Scott, senior vice president of Charlotte, North Carolina marketing firm Addison Whitney.

Once you know how customers and prospects see you, you can decide how to shape your image in the marketplace, Scott says. Your brand may be well-known, but if it isn’t seen the way you want it to be seen, you may need to work on changing the company’s external communication, location appearance, or other factors to be more in line with the market positioning you wish to project, he says.

4. Communication

Do a thorough review of your external communication, including your website, email marketing, social media presence, direct mail, paid advertising, and other communication efforts. Then, do the same for your competitors, Cline says. Look at their websites. Look at their brochures and materials. If they’re doing any advertising, what are they saying? How are they saying it? Are they consistent? What’s the tone? Can you see an overriding strategy behind what they’re communicating about their brand? From there, you can make more strategic decisions about how you’ll promote your brand and get your messaging out into the world.

“If you have not done this in a formal way before, you can be pretty surprised at how disparate the messages you’re putting out there are,” she says.

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