What do you think of when you hear the word ‘brand’? Maybe you picture a logo. Maybe you cringe and flip the page because buzzwords feel ominous and ambiguous, like a mountain you can’t quite wrap your head around.

Simply put, your brand is you.

Whenever someone interacts with a business (or individual), they go through an internal process called ‘data mining’, where they collect pieces of evidence to determine who you are and how to categorize you. The importance of branding, is that no business can escape data mining. And if the data is confusing or conflicting or not in line with what you want me (the customer) to believe, you could lose my business because I don’t really know who you are, and I certainly don’t know how to tell people.

It’s important to get in front of your brand so that you can lead the narrative in sharing with your customers exactly who you are and how you serve them. As we’ve continued to look at businesses that are thriving, we thought we’d share 4 key elements that these brands have aced.

Visual Identity
Perhaps the most obvious piece of branding is visual identity. First impressions are typically formed within 3-7 seconds and are very unlikely to change. It’s important that your audience can see who you are from the first time they meet you. This includes things like your logo, your colors, your fonts, your website and social media content, your interior and exterior design, and your packaging. All of these pieces are communicating to your audience who you are as a brand.

Words matter. There are any number of ways to communicate who you are, but it’s important that your tone and language match the tone and feel of your brand. If you are a simple company (think whole foods, naturalistic, etc.)., you should use simple language. If you are a detail-oriented kind of company (law firms, auditing, etc.)., it’s important to use detailed and descriptive language. How do you want to talk to your audience? Your customers should feel like if they talk to you in person, or if they engage with you on your website/social media, that they are talking to the same person.

Employee Experience
Reputation is a hugely important piece of branding, and nothing speaks to reputation like the insider. If you are telling your audience that you are one way, but everyone working for you and representing you knows that you are a different way, this creates a major brand conflict- and your employee interpretation will always win. It can be helpful to have an internal culture document for prospective employees to review so that they know what they are stepping into and how to represent your business. Staff meetings and employee perks are also great ways to keep business happy and healthy from the inside out.

Customer Experience
Ultimately, no matter what you tell your customer, they are going to be sizing you up. No amount of beautiful visuals or fancy websites can override a bad customer experience. It’s important to look at business through the lens of your customer. What are they seeing and experiencing when they engage with you? Do you have a CRM in place? Do you have a smooth e-commerce system? Are you checking and responding to online reviews? Do you have customer appreciation and follow up so that you can drum up repeat business and word of mouth referrals? A happy customer is the fastest ticket to growing your brand.

Your brand is formed by your reputation, and it is best to get in front of it. If you would like some help doing a brand audit and evaluating where you may need to smooth some disconnects, schedule a free consultation.