When it comes to company branding, having the right brand is the most important aspect of the character your company uses to face the world.

You may understand the link between successful businesses and strong branding and that branding is way more than just a logo or how your business is perceived externally. But not so many people realise that successful businesses place their brand at the heart of the business.

Your brand is your promise to your customers. It tells them what they can expect from your business, and it differentiates yourself from others out there. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. When customers connect emotively — because they share the same values and beliefs of a brand — it leads to higher sales and better brand differentiation. It also leads to loyalty, advocacy and can even protect your price in times when competitors rely on promotional discounts to drive sales.

Brands aren’t just for big companies, they can make smaller businesses stand out from the crowd, particularly if you operate in a competitive market. Think about it this way: if your company is built on a solid brand base, you can build up to the next stage successfully without losing the trust of your customers.

What is your purpose?

Every company has a purpose, the ultimate reason for existence. When you clearly identify your purpose, defining and communicating who you are and what you are trying to achieve becomes much easier. It also gives a chance to your customers, your partners, your vendors, your employees to feel like they are a part of a tribe, it gives them a much-needed sense of belonging, thus allowing you to build a movement around your purpose.

What is your company’s mission? What are the benefits and features of your products or services? What do your customers and prospects already think of your company? What qualities do you want them to associate with your company? Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don’t rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.

Think of it as a person.

Just like the DNA in our bodies, your brand’s purpose should be the core, the DNA, of a business. Every one of us is an individual whose character is made up of beliefs, values and purposes that define who we are and who we connect with. Our personality determines how we behave in different situations, how we dress and what we say. Of course for people it’s intuitive and it’s rare that you even consider what your own character is, but when you’re building a brand it’s vital to have that understanding.

Be consistent.

Focus on your long-term branding efforts to keep your business consistent. This consistency should transcend messages, product lines and audience appeal. It should enhance your business, adding depth to your company’s presence. This should allow you to grow and keep a loyal following.

Most people know how they should integrate their brands. Use the same colour scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. Everything should be just consistent. But apart from that, there are a lot more to be consistent with. Think about it as your culture. The culture you will create internally will have a direct impact on your company’s reputation externally. Speak to your customers with a consistent tone of voice. It will help reinforce the business’s character and clarify its offering so customers are aware exactly what to expect from the product or service.

Creating a strong brand is not a one-time marketing exercise, it’s a mentality. And it’s a journey worth taking.