Your brand is often something that gets overlooked when you’re busy building up your business. It’s often thought that branding is a bit of ‘fluff’ on top of the important stuff. But that could be a costly mistake to make.
A brand is essentially the sum total of all the experiences your customers, as well as the potential ones, have with your company. If you have a strong brand, people know what your business does and they have trust in what you do. Every time you interact with customers, share images on your website, post on Twitter or write content for your marketing materials – that’s all your brand in action.
Are you a small business with limited resources but you still want to develop a great brand? We’ve got 10 clever tips on how to get started:
1. Be unique.
Think about what makes you stand out from the competition, and in particular what your story is. If you take the Apple brand, for instance, that underwent a rebirth in 1997 after the immensely successful ‘think different’ campaign invited people to perceive the brand as being better designed than other similar products.
2. Focus on your community.
You might think that today’s big brands spend millions on advertising. Well, that’s all a thing of the past as they concentrate much more nowadays on building up their communities. They know that if you trust a brand’s community, this will extend trust to the brand overall. As a small business, you’ve got many opportunities to build up a community. Whether that’s online on social media, or offline in your business networks and marketing materials. Pick a couple of places where you know you can be effective and invest your time and resources there.
3. Create great products & services.
It’s not just about having a successful image and communicating with your customers. Ultimately, a brand is only going to be as good as the products and services the company creates. No matter how successful you become, if your products are sub-standard, even the strongest brand will be affected.
4. Look at your name and logo.
You want your company to be recognised, and one of the easiest ways of doing this is with a memorable name. This appears everywhere from your website, to your products and all promotional materials. Alongside a recognisable name, a brand is often associated with the brand’s logo. This should reflect your company as a good logo is easily identifiable, builds trust and pulls your brand together.
5. Find your voice.
Think about the tone and style of what you say about your company, whether it’s the language you use when talking to a customer or the content on your website. Your company’s ‘voice’ is the personality you and your employees use to deliver your branding message and affects how you reach your customers.
6. Be consistent.
If you’re a small business, it can be tempting to change the tone of your messaging depending on your audience. So you could have quite a professional and dry style for your company brochure but have a light-hearted approach towards your Facebook page. But this can be confusing to customers. To have a strong brand, means that every aspect and your way of presenting it should be consistent. If you care about this, brand consistency leads to familiarity, which leads on to trust – your main aim.
7. If you’ve said you’ll do it, do it.
It might seem like common sense to keep your promises, but this can be an area where small businesses can damage their relationships with customers. If you’ve got a happy customer, they will feel good about your business and are then more than likely to refer you to others.
8. Look at what you stand for.
If you think about the brands you like, they undoubtedly stand for something and have the ability of connecting with their customers. So make sure your message isn’t convoluted and your customers can easily recognise your main purpose, whether you can stand for great features, usability, low environmental impact or anything else.
9. Give power to your customers.
It might be easy to forget that it’s your customers that determine how your brand is perceived. You can set your brand’s direction but the power then lies with your customer base to run with it. People can become your brand’s ambassadors, spreading your ideas and brand to their own networks. So it’s definitely worth spending time nurturing relationships with such people. A great brand will recognise that by helping their customers to succeed, in turn the customers will help the brand succeed.
10. Deliver value.
It’s not always about price, and as a small business undoubtedly competing in a crowded market, you can focus your value on other more beneficial aspects. Whether this is by delivering value as a product leader, for giving great customer service or by a combination of the two, your brand can be strengthened immeasurably. Think about which of the benefits to your customers are emotional as the most powerful brands tap into emotions.
If this strikes a chord with you, and you’d like some advice as to how to build your brand, contact us today.