I’ve been helping other women business owners and female entrepreneurs develop their branding practices for years. When you’ve been around the block that many times, you learn a thing or two. But the most important thing I’ve learned is this: there is no one-size-fits-all branding strategy.
Some branding “experts” who will tell you, “If you follow my plan from start to finish, you’re guaranteed success! Just buy my e-book to get started.” They may start with the best of intentions, but in my opinion, they’re guiding their clients on the wrong path.
Your branding should be as unique and individual as you are. That’s why, instead of granting you a magical one-size-fits all Cinderella shoe that I allege will bring you instant fame and fortune, I am giving you a basic recipe that will form the solid foundation of your customized branding strategy.
The following 5 best branding practices are basic strategies that I find useful for every client I work with. I will always create a branding strategy with these 5 elements in mind, even as I mix and match them with other practices which I believe will serve each individual client best.
1. Research Your Audience
Researching you audience should always be your first step when developing your business’s branding strategy. Most branding is, believe it or not, audience research. You need to find out who your customers are and what their wants and needs are. What are their pain points and problems? What drives them and motivates them?
When you have the answers to these questions, then you can decide how you want to “talk” to your customers. In other words, you can determine what voice to use in your brand messaging.
2. Determine Your Brand Voice
Your brand voice is not just the tone, verbiage, and visual design that you use to communicate your customers. It’s also the strength and conviction of your message. Think of your brand voice not just as sound, but as a message reverberating across multiple types of digital and print media. When customers read an advertisement or a blog post you wrote, or watch one of your TikToks, or scroll through your website, they should never forget what your brand is about. If they never forget, that means you have a great brand voice.
3. Create A Plan Of Communication With Your Customers
Create a plan of ongoing communication with your customers. This plan may include sending them weekly emails, calling them periodically to check how they’re enjoying your service or product, and texting them about upcoming deals and events.
It’s worth noting the difference between communicating with new customers and communicating with your loyal customers. You have a huge opportunity to forge a deeper connection through your communication with your loyal customers. Don’t be afraid to treat your repeat customers extra generously, offering them more discounts and speaking to them in a more open, conversational tone.
4. Be Consistent
Once you’ve developed your brand voice and customer communication plan, be consistent. Don’t leave your customers to doubt whether you really mean what you say, or if you will go back on your word. If you do, your customers may not trust you. Instead, they may take their business to one of your competitors.
5. Be Flexible
I know I just told you to be consistent. But you must also be flexible.
These aren’t contradictory terms. When it comes to your core values and brand messaging, you should absolutely be consistent. But as the times and trends change, sometimes it’s advantageous to adapt certain elements of your branding to keep up.
The following image is an example of how Pepsi-Cola, which retains a consistent and specific brand voice, has also been flexible over the years. Every few years, they alter their logo to match the most popular and current advertising aesthetic.
Are these 5 steps a recipe for instant success? Not on their own. But much like flour, butter, sugar, baking soda, and salt make up the foundation of a delicious cake, these best branding practices will start you on the path to building a better business.