The biggest issue most businesses have is standing out from their competitors and the most effective way to stand out is to present a credible and effective solution to a clearly defined problem. Consistently emphasising your solution through your visual branding and messaging makes you more memorable and that means that you are more likely to come to mind when they need your services. They may even pick up the phone to contact you with a related question … and that is always a good sign.
So Do I Need to Spend a Fortune on Branding?
That’s really the wrong question to ask. A better question is, what investment do I need to make to create the image and consistency I need to reach my target market. Your investment in branding involves both a design and a message component and both should focus on communicating the solution you provide. Then they will work together seamlessly to create an irresistible impression on your target market.
I firmly believe that a core message is essential, and work with businesses to develop a Core Message Guide that they refer to almost daily … certainly every time they are creating external messages (emails, blogs, direct mail, marketing), and I believe that a strong visual brand is part of that Core Message.
But My Product / Service is Universal … EVERYONE Needs it!
You could be right … in fact, you probably are. The question is, “Can you afford to market to everyone?” That is, “Do you have the budget to outspend all your competitors in every marketing channel?”
The answer for most of us is, “No!”
…Therefore, the best way to broaden your reach is to start with a focused target market, work out what appeals to them and provide it, and generate the systems and profits to expand into new markets over time. (How long? That depends on how aggressively you take action.)
The Bigger Your Long-Term Goal, the More Important It Is To Start with Consistent Branding and Message
When I started my business, I had copywriting skills, experience, clients, and a core message. I had seen the transformative effects of direct-response copywriting in businesses in several countries.d I thought the message was everything and branding didn’t really matter so I developed a logo, and printed some business cards using a basic design service. I ended up with substantial interest, but not many of the clients I really wanted to work with. Then I met up with a branding strategist and designer through BNI.
It was still early in my business life, but the process we went through, and the brand we developed is still totally relevant to Hilton Copywriting several years later when my business has grown and developed dramatically. The change in my attitude to my brand, the confidence it gave me, the memorability that transformed people’s response was incredible.
The really exciting thing about this investment is that the relationships and market influence I have developed has grown with my business, and influencers within the direct-response world recognise and respect it.
Message and Image Go Hand In Hand
You cannot separate your message from your visual design and expect success. A consistent message across all channels is vital if you want to build a strong business.
I am working with a business that now has 4 separate target markets. Because they worked on their branding at the outset, their image works in all those markets, and while their message to each differs in the specific benefits it emphasised, their Core Message is the same. That is possible because their core message highlights the strategic benefits that define them as a business persona, so when they speak to individual markets they simply apply those same benefits and highlight those that apply specifically.
A Core Message Strengthens Your Influence
If you already knew this company in one market, and you stumbled across them in another area you would immediately recognise both their visual branding and their messaging. The impact of this is truly powerful!
Because you already know and respect them in one context, they stand out from their competitors.
Just like branding goes far beyond the concept of a logo and colour scheme, your core message goes far beyond your tagline and company name. It affects the tone in which you speak (includes written communications), the vocabulary you use, the way your approach your audience, and the benefits you highlight.
A strategically defined brand and message is the strongest foundation any business can have.
How does your look?
What action will you take to strengthen it?