Branding Your Business

From letterheads to business cards to outdoor signs, branding is the first impression the public gets of your business. Your brand essence entails much more than your logo and slogan; it is the entire sum of what your business does, your core competence, and the experience your clients have with you. It is what determines whether your customers will become loyal and refer you to others, or forget about you.

Branding is just as important – if not more so, for startups and small businesses as it is for the established companies. Even if you’re strapped for cash, you can still build a strong brand that positions your business effectively in the marketplace, and helps you produce repeat clients and referrals.

  1. Define your brand
  2. The first step should be a review of the products or services that your business offers. Identify the exact market segment that you serve, and research the needs and concerns (emotive and rational) of your customers. The character of your brand should promote your business, set you apart from your competitors, and connect you with your customer base.

  3. Be unique
  4. You need to differentiate yourself from the competition. This means that you should be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, so you can accentuate the former and convey it to your target audience, and work on the latter.

  5. Keep your visual identity and messaging professional and consistent
  6. From your logo to business cards to signage to email newsletters, all your digital and printed communications and sales materials must convey the same message, as well as look and feel like they come from the same company. Reuse key phrases or unique selling points on your website, brochures, and ads so they reflect your brand’s personality and set you apart from your competition.

  7. Build your community
  8. Leading brands like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Virgin focus more on developing their communities than advertising their brands. If they can get the public to trust the brand community, then that trust can be extended to the brand, leading to loyalty. Today, small businesses can easily build a community on social media networks, like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. or by blogging. Spend time nurturing relationships with your community so they become your brand ambassadors.

  9. Stand for something
  10. Be bold, innovative, and daring. What do you like about the brands you love? You will find that they stand for (or against something), and you can use that as a foundation to connect with their community emotionally. For instance, Virgin emphasises customer service, while Apple’s focus is on product leadership.

Finally, give your customers an extraordinary experience at every point of contact. Focus on customer service, and your clients will reward you.

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