Your brand encompasses virtually all experiences and interactions between customers and your business. It exists in the digital and the real-world and includes everything from brochures you hand over to messages you transmit via emails. The branding wilderness is vast and overwhelming, which leaves small business owners wondering where to even start. To make it worse, many of them have to work wonders on a shoestring budget. Well, instead of panicking, you are better off taking a deep breath.
Others have been where you are now. They have paved the way to success leaving behind a trail of tried and true branding tactics worth exploring.
In this day and age, standing out from the crowd is the name of the game. It is a goal that elevates your branding efforts and allows you to dispel the curse of business anonymity. Therefore, do your best to uncover the unique value proposition. Think about your origins and the story you want to share with the world.
Be careful about the language you use— strike a fine balance between casual and formal tone. Do not be afraid to show personality and show integrity. Your primary objective is to capture the core message that will bind all your efforts together and ensure much-needed consistency of brand voice. You cannot afford to send mixed signals and confuse people.
Next, get down to the basics of branding. It all starts with a recognizable and suitable business name, which appears everywhere, across your marketing collateral. Yet, it is only one piece of the puzzle, with many more to follow. For instance, you need to be image-conscious and flesh out your visual identity using the logo, web layout, staff uniforms, social media profile pictures, etc.
These aesthetic elements are the main building blocks of the image that you project and impression you make. Sometimes though, you should turn to experts. Go through a list of branding agencies and try to find the ones that are known to deliver standout results. Some of them might be pricey, but in the long run, this investment is likely to pay off many times over and make your brand instantly recognizable.
Before you start investing money in advertising, you should focus on growing a devout community around your business. Figure out what makes the most sense: to foster an offline, online, or both kinds of communities. Ditch the guesswork and make an educated decision: figure out who your target audience is and what are its media preferences, habits, wants, and needs.
You can utilize advanced data collection, processing, and analysis tools at your disposal. And whatever the findings turn out to be, it is hardly feasible to be in all places at once. Therefore, narrow down the focus and use marketing tools to do one thing: evoke emotions and positive associations. Take part in conversations and be open to feedback. Lay the foundations of loyalty and trust.
Without an exceptional product/service, you cannot hope to hit it big. In fact, you are just a dime in a dozen. To avoid this grim fate, take your time testing and developing your product palette. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, focus on sheer quality. Do your best to empower consumers and add real value to their lives.
At the same time, make sure to communicate the benefits your product offers. You can do this by writing top-notch descriptions and copy, as well as encouraging customers to write reviews and testimonials. In any event, customers who are happy with your offerings will act as your brand ambassadors, driving a ton of referrals.
You might be starting small, but do not play catch-up. Act as an industry leader. Pick a niche where you will be able to blow the competition out the water. This can be anything of consumer value: quick delivery times, funny social media persona, solid return policies, amazing blog content, stellar customer service, premium packaging, etc.
Bear in mind that your personal authority and image go a long way as well. So, establish a reputation of an expert and become a go-to source of information/opinion. Take advantage of business networks like LinkedIn to get in touch with fellow entrepreneurs, celebrities, influencers, and prominent industry players. Keep up with trends to get ahead of the game.
Nowadays, people do not just seek to fulfill their practical needs. They want to be a part of something bigger, get behind worthy causes, and make their environment better through their consumer choices. So, before you ask people to spend their hard-earned money on your products, give something first.
There is no shortage of smart strategies to do this. For example, sponsor a local sports team or charity. Attend trade shows and conferences. Take a firm stance on issues that plague fellow citizens. Display a high-level of corporate social and environmental responsibility. Nurture meaningful relationships that stand the test of time.
A brand is not something that just happens. You are in full control of the building process, so act like it. Make an effort to set your company apart from the crowd. Bring fresh new ideas and concepts to the market. Get out there and engage people: let everyone know who you are and what you stand for. Pay special attention to elements like the logo that hold the power to pull the whole brand together. Just try not to spread yourself too thin— allocate resources after careful, data-backed deliberation.
It is time to load your marketing guns and pierce through the marketing noise out there.
Written by Larry Reed.