So many small business owners neglect to focus enough time, energy, and money on their brand. While some people may think that a powerful brand only helps worldwide giants like Google, Nike, or Apple, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether big or small, every company can benefit from creating and maintaining a strong brand online and locally.
You may be wondering, “What is branding?” Or, “Why do I need to prioritize the branding process for my company?” Below, we answer these questions and provide tips for building a brand that drives your business forward, and which keeps your business costs safe and manageable.
Definition of Branding
Branding means that your team develops a robust and positive customer perception of your company, products, or services. You can do this via logos, designs, mission statements, and consistent themes in all of your marketing campaigns. In short, your branding should set your company apart from the competition and help you accrue loyal customers.
Importance of Branding
Branding is critical for many reasons. For one, it makes your business more recognizable to the public. Consumers will eventually become familiar with your business if you have a consistent marketing theme throughout your online and physical stores.
Branding also helps you establish your company as legitimate in the industry, thereby building trust with your customer base and potential customers. If your brand is solid and consistent, consumers will typically choose your business over those that don’t have the same branding quality.
Branding can do wonders for helping you retain customers, but it can also allow you to acquire new ones. For instance, if you just bought a new T-shirt with a brand’s logo on it, and a friend comments on the shirt and asks you where you got it, that is an opportunity for word-mouth promotion. Assuming it is a strong brand, you will know precisely how to tell your friend how they can get a shirt like yours.
No matter how creative your idea is, being 100% original is next to impossible these days. Chances are, many other small businesses around the world sell similar products, meaning you must determine how to differentiate your company. Your branding plays a crucial role in doing this.
Creating an eye-catching logo that reflects your offering is an excellent starting point. Still, you can use many other visual, written, and auditory content through various marketing channels to showcase your company’s originality.
Moreover, one of the most important things your business can focus on is cultivating an emotional connection between consumers and your brand. People like products, but they are loyal to brands, and when you build a customer base that is loyal to your brand, you will have customers consistently choosing your product or service over others simply because they trust your brand.
By communicating your deepest values and guidelines through your branding, you can create a valuable emotional connection with which consumers can interact, meaning they will be reminded of the connection every time they see your brand.
Steps to a Powerful Brand
Your brand consists of your current and potential customers’ experiences with your business, but creating that brand involves many moving parts. Your brand should communicate to consumers what the company does and how it does it while building trust and credibility in the process. Here are eight tips for establishing a brand to be reckoned with:
1. Sharpen your skills
First of all, you must ensure that you can do what you want to do. This means that you need a strong team where each person fulfills their roles while working collectively toward the company’s common goals.
It also means that you must possess the knowledge and skills necessary to do your part as the team leader and help establish your company as an authoritative presence in your industry. In other words, you must back up your brand and lead your team effectively.
One way to take your business skills to the next level is to return to school. Fortunately, you don’t have to move homes and commute to campus to earn a college degree these days.
Many accredited universities offer online MBA degrees that can teach you essential business, leadership, and management skills. And since you can complete your studies entirely online, you can earn a degree without compromising your job, family responsibilities, or other commitments. Take time to research various online universities until you find tuition rates that fit within your budget.
2. Provide top-notch products or services
While the visual aspects may be the first to pop into your mind when you think about branding, nothing is more crucial to building a more powerful brand than offering products and services of high quality. After all, a sharp logo may bring consumers to your doorstep, but solving their problem with a top-notch product or service will keep them around.
Take, for instance, Apple. While other companies produce similar electronic products, people love Apple products, so the brand has garnered a loyal following. And no matter how successful you become, maintaining quality must be a priority.
Many businesses have stopped focusing on building excellent products and services once they reach a particular milestone, only to have it backfire. No matter how strong the brand is, a decline in quality will inevitably result in your following disintegrating.
3. Know your purpose
Consumers love to support brands that have a purpose. While every business is trying to profit, consumers are looking for those who care deeply about something. You cannot get the emotional connection we discussed earlier without having a purpose behind what you do.
For example, Patagonia structures the bulk of its business model and operations around benefiting the environment and, thus, it is one of the most loved brands in the world. Even if your purpose is not moral, it can still connect with consumers if clearly defined. Suppose you started an eCommerce platform company because you wanted customers to have a simpler time creating an online store. In that case, you could bake that purpose into all of your branding effort materials.
4. Offer something unique
Standing out from the competition is one of the most challenging tasks for any business today. Yet, you must figure out how to differentiate your brand from others if you hope to succeed. Focus on how you can offer consumers something unique.
Maybe it means creating a simple, eye-catching logo and slogan. Perhaps you should provide consumers with a groundbreaking product. Or, it could be a combination of several elements. Take time to research the market to figure out how to make your brand’s offering and story special.
5. Create an outstanding name and logo
For a brand to be powerful, it must be easily recognizable. And recognition begins with your company name. It will appear on your website, social networks, business cards, products, promotional materials, and any online or print medium that helps consumers identify your company. Make your name direct and catchy, and make sure it comes with an available domain!
You also need a strong logo for your brand. As you create your logo, keep your target audience and products or services top of mind, as the whole point is to draw in your targeted consumers and build trust in your brand.
6. Develop your voice
The crux of your messaging is essential, but you also need to pay attention to how you get your point across. Your brand must find its “voice,” meaning the language and tone with which your team delivers your branding message. Look at any brands you admire and study what makes their message unique. Chances are, each of the brands communicates with the customers through a specific, consistent voice.
Without it, marketing efforts can become diluted or even indistinguishable from those of another company. Storytelling is the key to developing a memorable brand voice; you must use narrative language to engage audiences and draw them into a consistent yet constantly evolving brand story. By enrolling in a business storytelling workshop, businesses can create great stories and generate interest in their offerings while differentiating themselves from their competitors through the development of a strong and recognizable voice.
7. Prioritize consistency
Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to brand recognition. You do not want to modify your messaging depending on the marketing channel you are using. That is, you don’t want to strike a lighthearted tone on your Instagram account while simultaneously taking a more serious tone on your website.
Such inconsistency can confuse consumers and hinder your ability to build recognition and trust. If you want a powerful brand, you must invest in making every branding element as excellent as your product or service, and you must present your brand consistently.
8. Exceed expectations
Winning over customers requires you to make promises. Your product or service will either solve a problem, provide joy or comfort, or improve customers’ lives in some other way. To build and maintain a strong brand, you must deliver on your promises. And, if possible, exceed expectations. No type of promotion is more valuable than customer referrals. If you want your customers to tell their friends, family members, and colleagues about your company, you must keep them happy and surprise them by overperforming now and then.
No matter the size or industry of your business, you need a strong brand if you hope to achieve long-term success. Keep researching the benefits and intricacies of developing branding that helps your business stand out from the crowd. And keep the above tips in mind as you strategize with your team on moving forward with your goals.