4. Project Confidence and Leadership
The ability to project confidence and professionalism is intrinsic concept in understanding the importance of effective branding. The less money you can budget toward brand-building, for example, the more you need to consider how your brand can help position the company as the current (or future) market leader. While a good brand isn't built in a day, the combination of confidence and consistency lead to a powerful brand presence. Having a consistent strategy is a helpful way to do that (see next tip).
Offering a unique perspective to your client's problem also builds that brand awareness through leadership. If you think about every potential sale as a customer success story, then they become the best proof of why you're the right business to choose. "In the world of traditional ad media, you really want to be polished and buttoned-up," Alter says. "They want to see professional-grade collateral. In the social networking space, professional looking doesn't necessary mean polished. People are looking for accurate, straightforward information." Conveying information in an honest sense will become increasingly prevalent, he predicts. "I think what you're going to see on these social networking sites are advertisements that are going to be faster to market but less professionally edited," Alter says. "In the social networking world, substance trumps form every time."
5. Present a Unified Front
From the name of the company down to the corners of its logo, every element of marketing and promotion should tie directly into your core branding strategy. In essence, be articulate. Marketing slogans, sales pitches and the look and feel of your website should all dovetail with your brand strategy. A logos or catchy name is only a small part of that strategy. Giving your business a high-tech name with lots of X's and Z's may be a striking visual image, but does it tell the customer anything about how you will get the job done? By building a complete brand strategy, you cultivate an immersive client experience that fosters a professional relationship and most importantly, builds word-of-mouth-something Ochman says no amount of money can buy.
6. Go Bold, but Know the Risks
There is a time and a place for everything, and your business grows, so should the effort behind brand building. Today, risk-takers who post an outrageous YouTube video, or receive a glowing mention on a trendy tech Web site can catapult heretofore-unknown companies into the stratosphere. It might be tempting to embark on a risky but potentially rewarding marketing push. However, buying a booth in a trade show might be equally effective. Garnering laughs on YouTube doesn't always translate into gathering business. As the saying goes, fortune favors the bold, but be sure you scale your efforts in accordance with growth.
"When you're dealing with social networking, you have to realize that you are not in control," Alter says. "You better deliver on what you say, because if you do, you'll be fine. If you are trying to push yourself in a place you can't support, that's where you can get burned." Ochman agrees, and stresses the strength of your community is critical as well. "Bolder is always better if you can back it," Ochman says. "This is a long-term commitment. You can't build your brand with one stunt. Before you get bold, you better build up your community so that somebody's listening."