Knowing Your Industry - Branding 101
Knowing your industry is crucial when developing a successful brand image. A substantial amount of research is required to understand the expectation of you or your business and to be able to cater to that expectation without losing your brand identity or copying other brands.
Research In order to understand your industry, you must first research it. You will need to understand the target market within your industry. This is not an easy task. Often we get hung up on our own ideas and want to proceed with whatever “greatness” we’ve come up with without considering whether or not it will be well received by the people we are selling to. The purpose of research is to understand who will be buying your product or service, get out of your own head and create something that appeals to your potential clients. The bottom line is, if I don’t like someone else’s idea, image, or messaging, I’m not going to buy their stuff.
Think of this exercise as an “out of body experience” of sorts. Try to picture yourself as the purchaser and not the seller. What things do you consider when making a purchasing decision? Lack of industry research is like trying to sell a T-bone steak to a vegetarian. Proper research will enable you to figure out who the vegetarians are and how to sell them awesome veggie burgers! Speaking of meat… let’s get to it! Here are three things you NEED to research before solidifying your brand image: 1. Competitors
Check out their website, logo, colors, online reviews, messaging, etc. 2. Target Market
Do some market research! Identify average age, sex, location, etc. This will allow you to customize your message for those wanting to receive it! 3. Social Media
Visit the social media pages of those in your industry. Take note of the posting strategies and images of the pages with the most likes and followers!
Understanding the Expectation
It is extremely important to understand what the client expects from a business like yours. Consumers tend to group you in with other businesses in your industry. They are vetting you. They are comparing and contrasting. Understanding, not only what you are up against, but what is expected of you is crucial! For instance, if you own a technology company, your target audience is expecting you to present an image that denotes communication, globalism, dependability, prestige and lifelessness. Where it may be appropriate to have a cartoon character logo for a daycare, it may not pan out so well if you’re running a tech company. If your company’s brand image does not match up with the overall expectation, you’re guaranteed to be the odd man out and lose business because of it.
Coupling Uniqueness with the Expectation
Although you will assuredly want your brand image to align with the expectation of your potential client, you don’t have to sacrifice uniqueness or creativity! Understand that I am NOT telling you to rip off existing business logos or images. You are your own and there must be something unique about your business that sets you apart from the masses. Yes, you will want to follow certain guidelines to appeal to your specific industry, but that does not mean you have to lose your core identity. For instance, suppose you own a burger restaurant and the burger joint down the street uses only red and black in their logo. This does not mean you have to use red and black in your logo. Yes, you will want to figure out what colors make red meat eaters hungry, but red and black aren’t the only ones! There may be some common elements of your business and businesses like yours, but there are tons of ways for you to uniquely make your mark!