A brand is not a logo, it is an experience. It is not a product, but a story. In order to create a strong and unique brand, it is advisable to have a clear ‘why’ and have this communicated effectively through your set identity; this can be a logo or product packaging, among other strategies. When you are building a brand, there is no right or wrong way, it’s based on your own perspective and how you want your audience to feel about your business, according to Maurice Shyaka, a certified e-commerce advisor. Branding should be at the core of any business. It helps you connect with the audience, create a reputation and differentiate your products from competitors. However the advisor observes how some businesses fault the process when it comes to the building-brand process. Shyaka says the biggest mistake he has seen Rwandan businesses make is not having a brand at all, or making minimal efforts towards building a brand story, logo and more. This affects the business as it becomes hard to differentiate from the competition, and hard to craft marketing messages. So, I would say: Not doing market research before going into business, Not planning enough for marketing and branding efforts, instead diving in without a plan, Trying to be everything to everyone Not taking branding seriously and trying to be too unique, without being responsive to your target audience’s needs, can all affect branding success. He however mentions that there are four Facebook’s proven components to a brand: Existence, Purpose, Identity and Connection. “I want to walk you through each one of these and explain why they’re so important to your business.” a. Brand existence A strong brand has an original story that explains who you are and what makes you different from your competitors. Next, you need to tell the audience where they can find you and what they can do with your product or service at any point in time. b. Brand purpose This is more about why the audience you target should care? This reflects why you do what you do, which can be identified through a set of values. For example, if you are building a brand that is environmentally friendly, you will attract people with similar interests. c. Brand identity This consists of the visual feels and looks of your brand; what people shall associate with your existence and purpose. This includes the brand logo, brand colours and brand typography. d. Brand connection This is how your brand connects to its audience; your brand tone of voice. If you develop a persona, it is easy to know if your voice talking to them is professional, friendly, fun or any other tone. Why is branding relevant for business today? Brand building is important to businesses more than ever before because it gives customers a reason to choose one company over another. For example, if given the choice between two identical bags, customers may choose the one they perceive as having the better reputation. Francine Igihozo a marketing manager says branding allows a business to build relationships with its audience. It also increases visibility, given the outstanding competition in today’s business world, she says. With social media today, branding is more essential than ever before, as clients decide where to spend money after a quick google search or social media research. “For a better digital presence, your brand needs to connect to your target audience. And the audience only connects to a story and they remember that story once they connect it to its visual looks. For example, when we see a yellow jacket on the streets in Kigali, we immediately know that they sell MTN mobile services, that’s how MTN knows that is has successfully built brand awareness.” Ways to make successful branding Creating a successful brand is no easy feat, but when done right, it can be one of the most rewarding and profitable investments for a business. Shyaka shares a few steps to take towards achieving that; Decide on taking branding seriously. Start by building a brand identity first, have brand visual materials (brand colours, brand logo...), and be consistent with your story and brand visual feel. Get yourself out there, to your identified audience; if it requires a signpost, have it. If it requires a digital presence, be active on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, LinkedIn or any other. Remember; go where your audience is. Connect with others, whom you share same values, business goals, by tagging them, inviting them and also remember to document everything that contributes to your brand story. Get your audience involved, encourage them to provide feedback and consider their comments as an opportunity for improvement and growth. Take advantage of free tools out there that can do a lot of your work easily such as canva which can help you to design a logo, presentations and social media posts.