Your brand is any logo, sign or message that conveys what the business is all about. In a world where hundreds of companies are trying to sell their own version of bottled water, we need branding to tell us how each is different from the others. As a business owner, you need branding to build a reputation in the eyes of your consumers. Good branding delivers a clear message, plays on an emotional level as well as a logical one and motivates the buyer to choose your company over the competition. If your brand is struggling, here are five things you can do to see instant improvement.

Fender guitar
photo credit: Jim Wallace

Develop a Brand Message

The most successful companies rely on a specific brand message that informs everything they do. Planet Fitness, for example, spends a lot of money and time establishing how its gym is different from the competition. The company focuses on clients who are intimidated by the typical gym atmosphere. You don’t see one Planet Fitness billboard glorifying “gym bro” behavior while another condemns it. The message is consistent. Whenever you advertise your brand, make sure you are sending the right message out to potential customers.

Establish Consistency

McDonald’s restaurants, company emails, and billboards all contain a certain measure of brand consistency. McDonald’s depends on the arches along with the red and yellow color scheme to present a reliable, comforting image to its customers. When developing your own brand, it pays to maintain that same consistency across the board. If you have color schemes and logos you use on every advertisement, social media account and piece of communication, you can create connections that resonate with customers.

Guard Your Social Media Presence

Have you ever read a controversial tweet from a company only to wonder what they had to gain? Too often, businesses forget that they need to maintain a professional detachment from the news of the day. There are perhaps those exceptional times when a small-town dry cleaners can get away with a pointed jab at Congress, but for the most part, you should try to stay above the fray. If you assign social media upkeep to overworked interns, make sure they aren’t ruining your online reputation.

Trademark Your Brand

Trademarks protect both consumers and businesses. Developing a brand image can take a lot of time and money. You don’t want to risk having your efforts usurped by another company. By applying for trademark protection, you have legal recourse if a competitor decides to start using your marketing materials as its own. This way, another company can’t benefit from the reputation you’ve worked hard to establish. On the flip side, customers will know what to expect from a product that has your registered trademark gracing the box.

Be Clear on the Benefits

At the end of the day, customers want to know how your business is relevant to their interests. There are companies that have gotten away with muddled branding due to their unique commercials, but it is difficult to sell a product when a customer doesn’t know why they should buy it. When developing your brand, look at your challenges from the customer’s point of view. Why should a customer come into your tire store as opposed to the one across town? What do you offer that your competitors don’t? If you can’t find satisfactory answers to these questions, it may be time to reconsider your business model from the ground up.

Every day, the marketplace gets more competitive. By strengthening your brand, you can win the intense battle for the customer’s dollar. Spend time regularly researching the finer points of brand messaging, examining what other companies do right and wrong, and listening to the feedback you get from customers. Stay on top of your marketing choices, and be flexible enough to switch strategies if you come across a reason to do so. Your brand is your communication with the world, so make sure it says exactly what you want it to.

About the author: Josh Gerben is the principal of the Gerben Law Firm, PLLC, a firm that focuses specifically on trademark law and services. Gerben Law works with individuals and businesses looking to protect their assets through search, application and registration processes. If you are looking for where to start with your trademarking matters, check out the many resources available on gerbenlaw.com.