Your business is a “brand”. …even if you didn’t plan for it. Your “brand” is quite simply a collection of perceptions that people have about you, your products and services and your business as a whole.
The reason marketers make such a fuss about “branding” is because it’s integral to a customer’s decision-making process. If your “brand” is shoddy then customers may still buy from you, but only at a reduced price. If your “brand” is confused then customers will feel safer choosing a brand they can understand.
Hitting the right “brand image” has a significant impact on your bottom line and your long-term viability – so it is certainly worth your time and attention.
Contrary to popular belief, building a brand is not about hiring expensive consultants or spending big on an ad campaign. Let’s look at the simple (but often hard to implement) steps to building a strong brand.
Decide what you want to stand for.
This sounds easy, but it’s not. Invest time considering your strengths and what makes you unique in the market. Ask yourself this question: “How would I like a customer to describe my brand.” Let’s say you are a builder. Perhaps you want customers to say – “I really trust him to get the job done right.” Now, how do you create a brand around “trust”?
Create a logo that symbolizes this.
This is one place where we would recommend you spend some money. A logo that was designed by your sister’s ex-boyfriend five years ago probably isn’t screaming “trust”. Your logo is likely to be the first impression customers have of your business – so don’t let yourself down at the first hurdle. Get an experienced designer to create your logo.
Consistency and completeness are critical to branding. If you want your business to stand for trust then you have to walk the talk. You can do all the advertising you want, but if your staff doesn’t return customer calls promptly your whole brand image has just gone out the window.
Think about the seemingly little things: how you and your team present yourselves, the colour and style of your office furniture, the way you answer the phone, your picture on your website. Are these all consistent with your brand?
Stick with it!
Branding is not a once off exercise – it’s a long-term commitment. You can’t just create new stationery, brief the staff and forget about it.
Make sure your website and stationary stays up to date. Ensure that new staff members are trained to be consistent with your brand. Keep looking for areas in your business that are not aligned with your brand – and change them. Get feedback from your customers to make sure they are seeing your business as you would like to be seen.
There is a great deal of hype about “branding” which might be considered marketing bullsh*t (or at least a little over the top for a busy small business owner) – but at its core “branding” is the very essence of your business. Take time to be clear what you want to stand for and make sure that all aspects of your business align with this “brand”. It will pay dividends.
For more about aligning your actions with your marketing, have a listen to our podcast Are You Backing Up Your Marketing Campaign?
Image compliments of David Castillo Dominici and freedigitalphotos.net