“Branding” is an umbrella term for a broad range of functions that establish the identity of a business and set it apart from competitors. It’s what makes customers buy an Apple computer or drink Coca Cola, instead of turning to their generic counterparts. Branding includes the tangible components of a business’s brand identity, such as its name and logo. It also includes intangibles aspects, like customer service and public relations. In short, branding is everything that contributes to the public perception of your business.
Early branding can mean the difference between success and failure for new businesses. Poor or inaccurate branding can make it difficult to attract potential customers since the purpose of the business may not be obvious. Effective branding will make it apparent what your business does as well as increasing your credibility, building trust and giving you a competitive edge.
Small business owners often let branding take a backseat to funding, product development and early sales. This way of thinking ignores the power of branding for distinguishing a business’s product or services from the rest of the market. Now how can you as a new business owner build your brand? Here are five steps that can help a brand stand out in the market:
Brand Marketing Strategy: 5 Steps to Successful Business Branding
Analyze your target market
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.
Define your brand message
Use the information you’ve 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.
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.
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.
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.
About the Author: Melissa Woodson is the community manager and LLMguide for Washington University in St. Louis’ @WashULaw, a top-tier onlineLLM in U.S. law. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.