What you don’t know can hurt you.
Your brand sets the tone for your success. A strong brand influences more people to buy. Likewise, a poor brand sends potential customers running in the other direction.
Many small business owners don’t understand the impact their brand has on buyers. Unfortunately, some don’t care enough about branding to give it the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, they are making an expensive mistake.
Everything that represents your business—websites, social media, ads, etc.—makes an impression. That impression pulls potential customers closer to you or pushes them away.
Right now, whether you know it or not, your business already has a brand.
Given its importance, wouldn’t it be nice to know that your brand is working for you and not against you?
I will show you how to brand your business and share some brand-building steps to make it simple in this post. I will also share some tips to help you avoid mistakes that can kill your brand’s potential.
First, we will go over a few branding definitions that will clarify the topics in this article.
Your brand is what comes to mind when people think of your business. This unique perception isn’t limited to a logo and colors but includes intangibles as well. For example, your target market and messaging also contribute to how people see your business.
Brand positioning refers to how people see your business compared to competitors. For example, are you more service-driven or focused on delivering convenience? Are you considered the most cost-efficient option or a premium brand?
How you want people to see your business and what they think is not always the same. Branding helps you go on the offensive and establish your position. While you can’t always control how people see you, positioning influences their view.
A brand strategy is a plan that helps you position and grows your business. It also allows you to leverage your strengths to offset weaknesses. Most of all, it serves as a compass for your business decisions.
Your brand message is the core theme you want to communicate to your target audience. It is the promise you make to your prospective customers. Brands with consistent messaging will see higher response rates from marketing and advertising.
On average, it takes seven (7) impressions before people buy, sometimes more. That is why it is important to keep sending the same brand messages day in and day out.
Branding Mistakes to Avoid
What you don’t do is as important as what you do well. Here are some common errors small businesses make in the brand-building process.
They underestimate the power of branding. Businesses that focus on branding are more competitive. And it pays. Consistent branding can increase a company’s bottom line by as much as 33%.
No style. Your brand style is more than a logo at the top of letterhead or on an email signature. Conformity across all channels of communication is vital. Brand colors, fonts, slogans, and other cues work together to enhance your brand’s identity.
Try to do too much. You can’t be all things to all people. Many businesses will sell to anyone who will buy from them and usually end up competing on price. Instead, focus on the people you want as customers.
Get them to know them better than anyone else. Find out what makes your customers tick, what they care about. This will help you connect to them in ways no one else does.
Follow the herd. We live in a copycat society. If something works, others do it, hoping to get the same results. But what works for someone else won’t always work for you. Profitable brands aren’t afraid to stand out by being different.
Compromise brand values. There’s no point in establishing brand guidelines if you change or stray from them three months down the road. Unfortunately, many businesses get complacent and don’t remain diligent. It takes a while to build a reputation but a short time to tear it down.
Make changes without thinking it through. Many businesses respond to competition or changes in the market with knee-jerk reactions. They don’t take time to think about the long-term implications of their decisions.
How to Brand Your Business
Here’s a step-by-step guide for branding your small business.
Step 1: Identify your Business’s Purpose
Why does your business exist?
There must be a reason you started your business. Something inside makes you passionate about what you do. What is it?
People love to buy from brands on a mission.
Think about who you help, how you help them, and why they should care. Write it down. It will become the foundation for everything you do going forward.
Step 2: Spy on Competitors
You can learn a lot from the other companies in your industry—what to do and what not to do. Pay attention to who they’re targeting and the benefit claims they make.
Look for patterns. Are they all making the same promises? What sets each one apart? After studying three or four, it will be easier to create differentiation.
Can you build a position your competitors have overlooked? How can you uniquely communicate that to your audience?
Don’t copy too much. Remember, if you are doing it the way everyone else is doing it, you are doing it wrong.
Step 3: Identify Your Ideal Customer
What type of people do you enjoy working with the most?
Notice, I didn’t ask who might be the most profitable or working with now. Instead, identify the people you genuinely enjoy helping. There could be more than one type.
These are the people you should build your business around.
I understand the pressure to make sales. But after you have identified your ideal customer, it will be easier to attract more of them. Over time, focusing on them will gradually weed out the people who don’t fit your ideal customer profile.
Get specific. The more details you have about them, the easier it will be to qualify them and connect with them.
Step 4: Create Your Brand Message
What promises do you make? What primary benefit do you offer?
Use the information you gathered in Step 2 to construct a unique promise. Can you deliver something no one else can?
This may be challenging at first, but that is the point. Most businesses in the same category offer the same features and benefits. As a result, they end up sending the same generic marketing messages to everyone.
Regardless of how challenging it may be, you must find a way to show people how you are different.
As an example, talk about how you developed your product or service. What is the process? How is it different? What makes it better?
Refer to your ideal customer profile when creating your brand message. Then, take what you discovered about them in Step 3 and use it to make a message that speaks to them loud and clear.
One thing to keep in mind is that your brand message may evolve. The most straightforward changes or tweaks in your message can have profound results. So don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to develop a strong message.
Step 5: Tell It to the World
Your brand identity should become part of your business’s DNA. Let it guide everything you do, on every level.
People are attracted to strength. This is why a polished brand has such a profound impact on your audience.
Once you have developed your brand identity, stay true to it. All your marketing, advertising, sales, and service processes should align with it.
Don’t get bored or complacent with repeating your brand message. Most people will be hearing it for the very first time.
And remember, if you are doing things the way everyone else is doing them, you are doing them wrong.
Branding is the foundation for your business’s present and future success. Avoid the brand-building mistakes your competitors are making. Instead, use the framework I have provided to create a powerful brand that will help you stand out and win more sales.
Need help? Click here to schedule a FREE brand audit and find out how you can build a premium brand people will love.
Until next time,
More Branding Insights
By Chris Fulmer |
Learn more about brand strategy.
Are you struggling to connect with your audience? Do you want to show them how you're different from competitors?