Many inexperienced small business owners may believe that a brand is as simple as a unique company name and logo. The logo and company name are only the very beginnings of building a coherent brand that will set your company apart from the masses. When companies build a strong brand, they enhance their public reputation and draw attention to their strengths. Branding means focusing on the target market and determining exactly how your company can help it. Dwayne Harmon, a seasoned marketer and owner of Metanoia Consulting, explains the 5 steps any company can take toward successfully building a brand.
Understanding a Brand
A brand is defined by the public’s overall concept of your business. Your brand is not only applicable to your own customers, but it also extends to the public at large. A successful brand is consistent across many aspects: environment, print, signage, website, online advertising, content publishing, and sales and customer service. Any negative interaction with the company can seriously impact the good reputation of your brand.
Building a brand takes time and experience. A new company can position itself to create the best possible branding by following these 5 steps from Dwayne Harmon.
Determine Your Target Audience
When you are building your brand, it is important to keep your target audience firmly in mind. You may have the belief that your target audience is as broad as people who live in your town, but you may find that marketing your brand to a more targeted audience is a better choice for your marketing budget.
Having a specific target market in mind means drilling down to the specific groups of people you would like to see in your business. For example, your brand could be aimed at stay-at-home parents of young children. It could be aimed at high school students with disposable income. It could be aimed at early tech adopters.
Choose the age range, demographics, and characteristics you would like to see from your ideal customer. Age, gender, income, location, and level of education are important places to start. You can get more in-depth with their goals, motivations, influencers, pain points, and other brands they may frequently patronize.
Write a Mission Statement
Mission statements have gotten some bad press in recent years, with some consumers being cynical about their applications in business. It is important that you take the time to consider your mission statement in terms of your brand. You will need to determine what makes you passionate about your company. This will help you discover your company’s reason to exist. When building a brand, every aspect of your business, from your logo to your advertising, should help to reflect this mission statement.
Research the Competition
It pays to do in-depth research into the branding of companies you want to emulate. You can learn positive and negative lessons from these companies, building on their strengths to create the most opportunity for yourself. For example, if you are opening a card and gift shop, look at the other stores in your area and see what they have done with your branding. When building a brand, it is also smart to look outside your area, as good ideas can come from anywhere.
While you want to research the competition, you should avoid copying anything. The public has a long memory and is wise to shady business techniques, and your brand will immediately lose its good reputation if you simply copy someone else.
Look at these comparable brands and decide whether their message is consistent across all channels, from their logo to their website. You should make a judgment about whether the company has a reputation for quality. You should also look into the company’s reviews and social media mentions. Take the time to examine their marketing strategy.
This will help you set your business apart from the crowd. Differentiating your offerings from the competition is a huge advantage when it comes to branding.
Make an Outline of Your Key Offerings
Starting a small business means that you are up against a huge amount of competition from online and local companies. Making your brand memorable means digging deep to find out what you offer that makes you rise above the rest. You will be able to find your individual strengths and weaknesses by making this outline, and you will have a good picture of how you can emphasize your strengths while working on your weaknesses.
Give your target audience, as defined above, a reason to do business with you compared to other companies. Make sure that you are defining your business’s value to your customers rather than simply listing all of your products and services.
For example, you can emphasize that you have the best customer service of any company in your category. You can show off your price advantage. You can also lay out how much time and money your target audience can save by using your product or service.
Create a Logo and Tagline
Many people believe that creating a logo and tagline is the essential step toward building a brand. A good logo and tagline can go beyond a superficial exercise and can show that your business has a great deal of value in its category.
Your logo will appear on your website, in your advertising, and on your products. It is crucial that you create something unique that does not infringe on anyone else’s copyright. It is also important that the brand or logo stands out and is memorable.
You will want to work with a professional marketing agency to develop your brand style guide. This can include the style and placement of your logo, the colors you want to use, your fonts, photography, and Web elements.
Branding Can Work for You
When you put time and thought into your branding, you will be able to position your business for greater success within the community. According to Dwayne Harmon, the most important item to keep in mind is the direct targeting of your preferred audience. When you have a firm grasp on your ideal customer, you will be able to target them with the best possible marketing.