Everyone has heard the word brand. For most people, when they think of a brand, they think of one of two things: a product or a logo. Both are right, but they only paint a small part of the picture.
When I was younger and I was running my marketing agency, I would preach from the rafters the importance of proper branding as a necessity of establishing your company and at the outset of a marketing program. Now, being away from agency life and having a few years behind me to really think about it, I still believe in branding, but I recognize different depths of need, depending on the size, scope, and reach of the company in question.
Let's do a quick review of what a brand really is (I say “quick” because a full discussion of branding could take up an entire book) before determining how deep into it you have to get. A complete brand is made up of the following:
Looking at the each of these brand elements, it's pretty easy to see how these would all be necessary in determining what your brand is all about. The question is, how much of this needs to be really fleshed out in advance, and how much of it can simply be allowed to develop over time, as you grow your business? Most brand experts will tell you that each element needs to be considered as early in the game as possible and formalized on paper (usually in a book called a “brand guide”) to get the most out of your marketing and establish a meaningful presence with your audience. To some extent, that's not bad advice—especially if you're a decent sized company or if you're planning to build your company into something large and substantial. But if you're launching a site on your own, you're working from your home office, and you're anxious to get started, well, here's the least you'll need to do for your brand:
Again, this is not the ideal scenario. It's a list of the least you'll want to do before launching your site and starting a marketing program. If you're building and designing your site yourself, you'll find that you'll end up injecting personality into it automatically and figure out what unique qualities and promises you want to promote.
Three keys to building a good brand are to build one that is a mixture between what you're happy with and what your target market will appreciate; remain consistent across all marketing materials (make sure the logo, fonts, colors, design style, etc. are the same); and remember that the brand transcends marketing. In other words, quality marketing can close a sale, but it's the experience with your brand that will keep people coming back.
Facebook has become literally too large to ignore. Fortunately, the clever minds behind the world's largest social network haven't forgotten about marketers looking to reach an audience, giving brands a number of ways to gain exposure.