By Ross Kimbarovsky
I want to let you in on a secret.
Small businesses and startups can learn important branding lessons from successful, multinational companies.
Branding is about experience and emotion and the psychology of branding doesn’t care about company size.
A brand is the sum total of the experience your customers and customer prospects have with your company.
A strong brand communicates what your company does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility with your prospects and customers.
Let’s look at 4 important lessons you can learn from the most successful brands, based on the just published BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable US Brands 2018 report, and how you can drive more revenue and bigger profits for your small business or startup through better branding.
1. A strong brand starts with a good name and logo
Successful brands typically have simple names that are easy to pronounce, spell, and remember.
This is important because you want your customers and prospects to remember your company. In fact, 77% of consumers make purchases based on a brand name.
But coming up with a new name and memorable logo isn’t easy.
For example, it’s very difficult to find a good name and an available domain; many short names have already been taken. That’s why we ask clients who post business or product naming projects on crowdspring whether they want/need an accompanying domain and whether it must be a .COM or another TLD.
When you start thinking about building your brand and how to name your business, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you hope to accomplish with your company? What will it do?
- What do your customers and potential customers currently think of your company?
- What do you want your customers to think when they think of your company?
- How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
The logo is another key element of a brand. A good logo builds trust.
As you think about your logo, keep your audience and products/services in mind because you want your logo to reflect your company.
To learn more about great logos, we recommend you read 2018 Logo Design Trends: Your Guide to Navigate Hot Trends and Avoid Fads.
2. Successful brands are innovators
Innovative companies make strong impressions with their customers and prospects.
But even non-tech companies can innovate. Tesla and Apple are two of the world’s most innovative companies, but Disney ranked ahead of both in the BrandZ 2018 report on innovation because of its MagicBand (which simplified visits to its theme parks).
Innovation comes in many forms.
For example, it takes more than luck to design popular products. We recently talked about this in depth in 8 Powerful Psychology Principles Behind Great Product Design:
“By understanding the emotions, human behaviors, and people’s motivations, you can significantly impact the success of the products you design and sell.
The crowdspring team (over 210,000 graphic and product designers) has helped the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, small businesses, and even big Brands design products for many different industries. We’ve worked with the likes of LG, Barilla, Philips and the world’s best agencies to design innovative products and product packaging, for a tiny fraction of the cost those companies and agencies would otherwise pay (not to mention a fraction of the time such design would normally take).
Here’s what we’ve learned along the way, to help you design great products: if you understand the science of how people process information, make decisions and take action, you can create more effective (and more successful) products.
The good news is that you don’t have to have a degree in psychology to apply brain-based design principles into your products.”
3. Successful brands are consistent
Many startups and small businesses mistakenly modify their brand message depending on their audience.
For example, a company might take a serious tone on their website but a lighthearted tone on Twitter.
This is ineffective.
To build and maintain a strong brand, you must be consistent in presenting your brand to prospects and customers.
Consistency is important because it leads to familiarity, and familiarity leads to trust.
In fact, 90% of consumers expect that their experience with a brand will be similar across all platforms and devices. They expect a seamless transition between web and device-native applications through color, flow, and overall quality.
Brand consistency involves the communication of messages in a way that doesn’t take away from the core brand proposition. While certain aspects of branding might change, the core message shouldn’t change.
4. Successful brands create a complete experience
A brand is more than just your company’s products and services. It’s also the ecosystem that surrounds those products and services.
Ultimately, the strength of a brand is directly related to the connections within that ecosystem.
That doesn’t mean that first impressions are without value.
To the contrary, first impressions are incredibly important to develop loyalty. 48% of consumers report that they are more likely to become loyal to a brand during the first purchase or experience.
But, first impressions are only a start.
You must do more.
Your brand starts with your company and employees.
Your customer service people may be more important than your CEO – they are directly connected to your prospects and customers.
Your brand extends to your vendors, your prospects and employees, investors, and even competitors.
It extends to people that start conversations about your brand on Twitter or Facebook, or who blog about your brand on their blogs.
Ultimately, successful brands recognize that if they help their participants succeed, the participants will, in turn, help the brand succeed.
If you have a lot of time and five full pots of coffee, here’s a link to a full PDF copy of the nearly 300-page report from BrandZ.
Ross Kimbarovsky is founder and CEO at crowdspring, a marketplace for crowd-sourced logo, web, graphic and product design, and for company-naming services.