A lot of the small businesses that I have spoken to in the last six months have mentioned that one of their toughest challenges is marketing their business. So, this got me thinking on ways that we could help small businesses with their marketing. Whilst I don’t know about the various industries you might be in, I can offer some insights into building a brand.
Your brand is something that can set you apart from the competition. It can connect customers to your company at a deeper level than price or product and service features. It’s this type of differentiation that counts, especially if your product and services are similar to the competitors.
Your brand is more than a logo or a name, that’s part of it, but it’s also about your reputation, your customer service and what connects you to your customers. It’s your whole identity as a company.
The father of advertising, David Ogilvy, once said of branding
“There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents, and the margarines… The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.”
Basically stand out from the crowd. It sounds simple but defining your brand can be tough and often even tougher to build your brand. A quick search on Google for ‘building a brand’ returns over 620 million results; to save you reading all of these I’ve put together my top 8 branding tips.
Position your business
Identify your position in the market in relation to your competitors. What are your:
Who are you talking to?
Define who your target market is, what demographics do you focus on? For example is your product for young or old, high earners vs. cost conscious, thrifty shoppers?
Your vision, promise and values
Agree on your brand vision, promise and values. What are your most important services/products? Where do you want to be in five years? What do you want your customers to feel about your brand? For example Apple is innovative, Volvo is safe and Chanel is exclusive and chic. Once you have defined these, stay true to them. Consider everything in the business from the point of sale to delivery and after sales service. Ensure you keep your promises and remain consistent throughout.
Brand name and logo
Make sure your name and logo is strong and recognizable; it’s going to appear on everything so it pays to get it right. Simplicity is an important consideration.
How do you sound?
How do you speak/find your voice? This is your businesses language and personality, the tone of voice used in company brochures, on advertising and how you talk to customers on the phone and email. For example, are you straight talking and honest, funny, quirky or authoritative and informed?
Love thy customer
Empower your customers. Give customers the tools and information they need to make informed decisions. Make yourself easy to do business with. This will help you create brand ambassadors. Fans of your brand will recommend you and this can often be far more powerful and authentic than any advertising.
Consistency is key. This doesn’t mean that you need to have ‘matching luggage’ for all your promotions and advertising; but rather your key messages, tone and look and feel being consistent across all channels. They will then work together to reinforce the businesses character and what you’re offering.
Live the brand
Now you’ve worked out who you’re talking to, how you’re going to speak and what emotion you want your brand to spark with customers; it’s time to live it and breathe it. Sounds simple, but this is where many fail. This isn’t just for the manager or business owner, it’s about all of your staff, so get them involved and get them motivated because a happy engaged team can make your brand sing.
Building a brand takes time, commitment and a lot of hard work. Get it right and it will deliver back in spades. You should be thinking about developing your brand from the moment you decide you want to start your own business. If you want to work on your brand, we’ve created a build your brand awareness worksheet . If you want to learn more about building a brand, here’s some some recommended reading:
What are your main business brand challenges, what’s working and what’s not?