Apart from production and packaging, branding is the second most important aspect of a business or company. What then is a brand? A brand is what makes your business, products and services unique and different from similar products and services.
Your business brand is not just the logo of the company as many people think, but your business identity and everything that involves the image of the company and how it affects your products and services. Branding isn’t just about adverts or marketing, it covers both adverts, production, packaging, quality, prizing, public image or how the public perceives your company to be; all these make up a company’s brand.
You now have an idea of what branding is, let’s take it a step further to look into way you need to build a solid brand for your company, after which I will drop ten tips that will help you develop a brand for your business.
Why You Need to Build a Brand for Your Business
When it comes to starting a business and growing it successfully, it is surprising that the little things that are mostly ignored usually make the big difference when implemented. Branding is one of those little things that most entrepreneurs ignore. Companies that spend millions of dollars each year to build a good brand for their business know the benefits they derive. If you build a good brand for your business, you stand to gain the following benefits:
- High Sales-: if you invest in building a good brand image for your company, you will increase the sales of any products or services launched by your company, whether now or in the future.
- Loyalty-: Your business brand can build you loyal customers and client base. Take for instance the Iphone Smartphone. There are many other Smartphones in the market but the Apple Corporation has been a large number of loyal customers that even go to the extent of coming in their numbers to pass the night in front of Apple’s corporate building a day before the launch of any Apple products. This is despite the fact that there are many Smartphone companies that have cheaper Smartphones and tablets to offer.
- Expansion-: A new company that have built a good brand will have will find it easier to raise capital for expansion in the future. Even if the company decides to go public to raise more capital for the expansion of their business, stock investors will be willing to buy shares from the company knowing that the company already has a brand name.
Is Branding Important to your Marketing Strategy?
“Sales is about identifying a thirsty prospect and selling them a glass of water. Branding is about selling your 2nd glass and the 3rd glass and the 4th until when they’re thirsty they want to buy your water. Branding is finding out what you stand for and then communicating and delivering what you stand for.” – Ben Mack
You see, gone are the days where branding is often limited to traditional media like radio advertising, TV advertising, and billboard advertising. With the entry of the internet into the picture, the whole business branding process has changed and it continues to do so. The internet has opened numerous channels through which businesses can perform their branding activities. With that said, branding has gained importance more than ever before. It has become an indispensable aspect of running a business; whether your business is based online or offline.
Another reason why you should be investing a lot into small business branding is the fact that competition is getting stiff. Even a blind man can see how tough the competition is nowadays when it comes to operating businesses. No matter what kind of business you put up, there will always be dozens of competitors out there. This is especially true online. Just go into your favorite search engine and type some business niches into the search bar. You will likely receive millions of hits. That’s how tough it is in the online world.
So if you don’t do some branding activities, your competition will eat your business alive. This is no exaggeration at all. In fact, research studies have shown time and time again that majority of online business startups fail. This is a sad fact but one that you can avoid if you know how to conduct business branding.
10 Ruthless Tips for Developing a Brand Strategy for a New Company
Most new businesses can’t appeal to a broad range of customers. Before you can create an effective brand, you need to understand your niche. Does your business appeal to families or does it target single people? Will bargain hunters like your offering or are you targeting big spenders? Make a list of your potential customers and think about what you can do to grab their attention on a consistent basis.
2. Define Your Brand-: The first step towards developing a brand for your business is to define your brand. You need to take out time to plan what steps you need to take to make your brand, services and products unique and stand out from similar products and services. These steps will include your logo design, production, packaging, prizing and quality. Still taking the Apple Corporation as an instance, one way they defined their brand was by developing a unique Operating System (OS) for their products.
3. Define your Brand Message
Use the information you have gathered about your target market to define a brand message. This message should describe what your business does, who it does it for, the differentiators that make your business unique and the benefits that you deliver to customers. All of your future branding should incorporate this message.
4. Develop the Elements of Your Brand
Once you have a brand message, you can begin to pull together the tangible elements of your brand: your logo and imagery, as well as the colors and fonts that you will use for all your marketing materials. Don’t forget to create a compelling business tag line that defines your business in as few words as possible. Study famous tag lines like “Just Do It” for inspiration.
5. Let your Working Team Know about Your Brand-: Instil your brand idea into you employees and team workers. It will make your employees work together to achieve the goal of a good brand image for the company.
6. Customer Relationship-: if you are planning on building a brand for your business, then your focus should be on building a lasting relationship with your clients and customers, not just a one time sales contact. You can build a long term relationship with your customers by giving them an excellent customer care service, customer appreciation services (making them feel appreciated), and building a communication channel with your clients. If done well, then you will have to yourself; die hard loyal customers with confidence in your products.
7. Make Customer Service your Top Priority
Customer service is where your branding meets reality. Establish trust and loyalty in your customers by delivering on your advertised promises. Make it easy for customers to get what they need and simple to return or exchange purchases if they change their mind. If you have a local business, build goodwill by participating in community projects and events. Since every customer interaction can impact your brand, only hire employees who are willing to be positive branding envoys.
8. Think Analytically-: Yes, creativity is key to small business branding. You must think outside the box and give your audience something that others don’t offer. You must be unique and innovative in your approach to be able to stand out from the crowd.
9. Maintain your Brand-: Engaging in branding activities is just the beginning; you must be consistent with all of your branding strategies. I bet you don’t want to be a one-time flash in the mind of potential customers.
10. Focus your Efforts on a Niche-: One of the most important keys for success in business branding is concentration. This is because you can’t please everybody. You must focus your marketing and branding efforts on a specific niche.
11. Fully Commit yourself to Branding-: Branding is not a one hit affair; it’s a continuous process. So you must give it your best and you will get the best results.
12. Never Try to Copy Another Company-: What works for A may not work for B; so don’t try to copy or imitate another company. Be creative, innovative and unique in your ideas. Even if you wish to copy a business model used by another company, try to redefine it to look somewhat unique.
13. Keep Your Logo Everywhere Your Product Goes-: Remember that advertisement is an aspect of branding, and one way to take advantage of this is by getting your logo out everywhere your product goes; that is cresting your products with your company’s logo.
14. Build a Strong Online Presence-: The internet has turned the whole into a global village; hundreds of millions of people visit the internet each day. You need to have an online presence; a user friendly website with a blog where you post updates about your business regularly. Then create business pages and accounts on most social networks to help engage your online audience.
15. Packaging-: Packaging is very important when developing your business brand. How you package your products, business and services to the outside world will make or mare your brand. For your business, you have to package your style of doing business to give an impression far more than its worth. I am not suggesting that you lie to the public about things your business can’t offer just to give them these false perceptions of your business; rather your business model have to portrait confidence and stability to the outside world. For your products, it is the packaging that will draw people or arouse your curiosity to know what your product has to offer, put in more consideration on how you package each one of your products.
16. Place More Emphasis on Quality-: Ensure that your products are made from the highest quality of materials. Always place more focus on quality not just quantity because the quality of your product will place your brand on a high pedestrian when placed side by side with similar products. Offer your customers product that satisfies their need and they will come back for more.
17. Partnership-: Along the line, you can choose to partner with a company that already has a strong brand, to help boost your brand name.
18. Get Other People’s Opinion of Your Brand-: Once in a while, you should put together a focus group of people representing your market to take an inventory of their opinion about your brand, model, and products and point out deficiencies that needs to be corrected. This is to help you make better decisions on your products and business brand generally.
19. Extend the Reach of your Brand
Thanks to the Internet, you don’t need a huge advertising budget to market your brand. Every business needs at least a website and Facebook page to attract new customers and grow the loyalty of repeat customers. You can also branch out through other multimedia channels. Instead of just advertising your business, post content that provides value to potential customers, including informative articles and helpful tips related to your field.
10+ Powerful Brand Building Exercises and Strategies for Small Businesses
Getting a business off the ground may come with birth pains, but if you have a quality product coupled with a good marketing strategy, and on top of that, effective sales people; customers may soon come knocking at your door. But even after the excitement of the official launch wears off, a fresh look at everything may be necessary. You must keep the pace, so as to sustain and grow your sales. This is where the need for brand building exercises and strategy comes in. Without wasting your time, below are the top brand building exercises and strategy for small business owners.
The top brand building exercise your start-up company may commence with is to craft a mission and vision statement. A new pet products store, for example, may have the vision of transforming pet owners into pet parents, and then put this in all marketing collateral from ads to e-newsletter.
b. Offer Value Added Services
Another important component of brand building is offering added value to the consumer, which may come in the form of quick and efficient customer service, competitive pricing, speed, and an extensive range of quality offerings that may be sold at special introductory prices or through coupon offers.
c. Put your Business on the Web
You can tap the immense power of the internet by putting your business on the web. Apart from having an easy-to-navigate website with compelling content and visuals, you should also implement web-based technology like a custom-designed database, so you can stay in contact with your customers and other retail branches.
As a small business owner, you should not just bank on your natural charm when luring customers. You can tap the web and create an official page in a popular social network and keep updating it with product offerings and special offers. Smaller companies should also look for other ways to distinguish themselves from other firms offering similar products or services.
e. Start a newsletter to keep in touch with your customers-: Also among the top 10 brand building exercises for small businesses are continually sending updates and store development news to customers through email blasts; and holding special events that highlight the product offerings.
f. Give your customers a media for feedback
Aside from promoting your products and services, you also show customers just how you are focusing your marketing efforts on their needs. Creating a link where customers may post feedback/comments and make it convenient for them to send requests or express what they want to say.
g. Offer Reward programs and incentives-: Offering a reward program like giving existing clients special discounts for clients referred and converted into sales, plus in-store promotions like a free gift item for the customer who makes a minimum purchase.
h. Analyze your branding effort from the outside
Part and parcel of brand building is enlisting an outside marketing professional to analyze your marketing effort from the outside. Leaving the marketing to the professionals lets you the business owner concentrate on running the business operations. Moreover, an external perspective can pinpoint areas for improvement and lead to the mapping out a comprehensive strategy. It is also important to create a consistent and powerful message that will stick in the minds of target audiences.
i. Develop a strong brand image and be consistent with it
Your branding efforts will never be complete if you don’t create a strong image of your brand. Sometimes, humans need something they can feel, relate to and associate with and your business also needs something that can help it stand out from the crowd. This is where the need for a brand image comes in.
To successfully establish a brand, you need a unique logo and a consistent theme. Just as McDonald’s is identified all over the world with it’s big “M” logo, so also your business should be identifiable with its logo and brand image. Most Nigerians have come to believe that any building, product or ad with a consistent yellow theme belongs to MTN. That’s the power of a brand. When thinking of creating a brand image, take a cue from successful brands such as Coca Cola, UBA, Zenith Bank, GTBank, MTN, Nike, GLO, Apple, etc.
j. Tell a Story
Humans love stories because it connects them with reality. You can use this to your advantage by telling your own story. Create an air of mystery, importance or unpredictability around your brand. Behind every successful brand in the world is a story and a great story teller. Have you observed that the most liked and shared posts on Facebook are stories? Go to Facebook and you will see pages such as “A Touching Story” and “An Inspiring Story” with a lot of comments, likes and shares. That’s the power of a story.
So learn to tell people how you started business, tell them the story of how your brand was created, tell them your mission and most importantly, tell them the ultimate benefit they stand to gain by associating with your brand. Your story must answer the “WII-FM” question that every customer asks; “What is in for me.” Also, never forget the fact that the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and managers were great story tellers; from Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson to Oprah Winifrey, Mary Kay Ash, Donald Trump, etc.
k. Diversify the contents of your marketing plan
Use every tool and resource that you can get your hands on. Your main objective should be to get your business in front of as many people as possible. Every marketing tactic you use should be towards steering your target audience to your business offers. There are literally thousands of ways on how you can get your business noticed.
These business branding tactics include advertising, social media marketing, article writing, search engine marketing, blogging, direct mail campaigns, email campaigns, webinars, trade shows, networking events, and contests. This doesn’t mean though that you have to use every single one of these marketing methods mentioned. Just find the ones that suit your business and stick to them. Business branding would be a lot simpler if you just focus on the methods that get you results.
l. Make use of a single page corporate overview.
When you meet a prospect or a lead, you can leave this one page overview. It acts like a business card, only better. In writing the overview, brevity is the key. People want to read quickly, so make use of short sentences as well as short paragraphs. Also, you are not making a white paper, so make the tone very conversational. Put your personal touch into it. The contents of the overview should include a mini-case study, your contact details, your value proposition, and the benefits that people will get from your business.
m. Be active in local business gatherings and events.
This is a small business branding strategy you need to be using especially if you are operating a local-based business. Just the mere act of participating in these events can provide more exposure for your business. Also, if you can become a member of the committee organizing the events, then by all means do it. This will put you and your business in the center of said events. This equates to more visibility for your business.
In conclusion, first-time entrepreneurs can certainly adopt the brand building exercises for small businesses and in the process connect with and capture their target customers. But whatever you do, you must ensure you carry your team along. Secondly, continuously innovating and evolving with the habits and requirements of customers and keeping an eye on opportunities to enter into business alliances that may work and increase market share can all pay off in a big way.