As your business grows, you start to think beyond just selling more products and attracting more customers. You start to think of building your own brand. This is your unique identity, how you appear, what you stand for and how the world perceives you. One way that the best-known companies in the world, such as Nike, Coke, Apple and McDonald’s became household names is by creating unmistakable brands that no one else can capture. While most businesses operate on a smaller scale, the principle is the same. If you want to build a long-term business, it’s essential you know what is brand integrity and how to protect it.
What Makes Up Your Brand Identity?
Your brand identity is the message you send consumers with your products or services. Every business has a name, logo and a list of products and services. That, however, is just the foundation of your brand. If that’s all you have, it will be difficult for people to tell you apart from your competitors. A brand consists of an entire identity, which includes factors such as:
- Promotional Products – Keep your business in the forefront of customer’s minds with white label merchandise you can get here at Brandables. Put your logo on a gift and give it to a potential client so they don’t forget about you. The best promotional products are the kinds that are useful and will not be thrown away: pens, mugs, USB drives, and more.
- Physical Space – If you have a retail store, office, restaurant or any kind of brick and mortar business, your storefront, signage and interior decorating all send certain messages. What kind of impression to people get when they walk into your establishment? How does the atmosphere differ from other businesses in your niche?
- Website – Whether your business is online or offline, your website is crucial for establishing your brand. Everything about your website, including the design, layout, fonts, colors and content all reflect on your brand.
- Social Media – Just as every business today needs a website, so they need a social media presence. Whether you focus on a Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or other sites, everything you post is part of your brand.
- Voice – This is the tone and style you use in all of your communications including advertising and organic content. Is your tone formal, casual, authoritative or humorous?
- Customer Service – The way you or your employees interact with your customers plays a big role in creating your brand’s identity. Whether you primarily deal with customers in person, on the phone or online, it’s important to have standards in place that ensure people leave the transaction feeling satisfied.
While we can separate these factors into categories, they actually overlap. Ideally, your brand identity is a combination of who you are and who your audience is. You naturally infuse your brand with your own personality, goals and values. Yet you also have to build your brand with your customers in mind. This includes not only what kind of products they need but what kind of service they demand and what kind of content and style they prefer. Your brand integrity is knowing what makes you special and understanding the importance of living up to your highest standards.
Monitor and Protect Your Brand
Your first line of defense for protecting your brand integrity is to guard against people taking your content without permission. While this is illegal, it’s fairly common on the internet. Here are some ways to protect yourself.
- Register a Trademark – This is a good way to legally protect your brand name and prevent anyone else from using it.
- Use Copyscape or another plagiarism tool to find out if anyone is stealing your written content. It’s worth it to invest in a premium subscription to such a service.
- Google Alerts can be useful to find out what people are publishing online. You might set alerts for your product names, titles of blog posts or anything you want to protect.
- Google Images – You can search for images on Google as well as search terms. This is useful to find out if anyone is stealing your images.
- Watermark Images – If you use original photographs or graphics on your website and social media pages, watermarking them helps to guard against theft.
If you find that someone has stolen your images or content there are a few things you can do. Sending a simple email is often enough to get someone to remove unauthorized content. If that doesn’t work, file a DMCA Takedown Notice, which is a more official action that lets people know you are serious about protecting your rights. You can also contact the offender’s hosting service. If the content isn’t on their personal site, contact the site on which it appears whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest, or whoever it is. However, protecting your content from thieves and plagiarists is only one aspect of guarding your brand’s integrity.
Maintain Brand Consistency
Many companies subvert their own brand integrity without the help of competitors or online thieves. One challenge facing everyone today is maintaining a presence on so many diverse places. For some, this is both online and offline. The internet alone, however, provides a large number of diverse platforms. When you’re building a brand, you want to establish a consistent identity across platforms. This is more challenging than it may sound.
Between your website, social media pages, ads, and any other media or platforms you may be using (e.g. videos, podcasts, webinars, offline events, etc.), you need to take a close look at whether you’re sending out consistent messages to your audience. All of your employees or anyone who does work for your business (e.g. freelancers, agencies you may outsource to) needs to be on board with this mission. Otherwise, you end up diluting your brand.
Your layout, style and voice should be similar no matter where people find you. If you have a serious and formal style on your website but post lighthearted and humorous items on social media, you’re violating this rule. People will get confused when they click on your link and land on your website. They’ll also have a hard time recognizing you when they see you in different places.
Protect Your Brand Integrity
Guarding your brand is essential for building a sustainable business that attracts loyal customers. Here’s a summary of some of the most important points to keep in mind to protect your brand integrity.
- Make sure you have a clear idea of your brand identity. Everything you do and create should reflect this.
- Know who your customers are and what they prefer. This includes voice, design and your style of communication.
- Stay informed so you know if anyone is using your content. Take steps to protect yourself and have unauthorized content removed.
- Maintain a consistent presence across platforms.