How Small Businesses Can Build a Winning Brand?
In our continuing series on marketing strategies for small business founders, we’ve previously talked about How to Build A Marketing Strategy as a Small Business Founder and How Founders can Grow their Small Business with Innovative Marketing. In our third article, it’s time to turn our attention to branding.
What is a brand? A brand is everything to a business. It goes far beyond a name and logo. It encapsulates every fibre of it; colours, packaging, language, advertising, and customer service. It’s the very personality of what you hope to create, and what customers will think of when they hear that business’s name.
If you’re incredibly fortunate, your brand will become synonymous with your product. In the UK people don’t vacuum, they “Hoover”. In the US people don’t send a package, they “FedEx” it. Want to find something online? You’ll “Google” it.
Almost 90% of shoppers will stay loyal to a brand they believe shares their values. Your branding literally drives sales and increases retention. Simply having an excellent product is sadly not enough. So, how can you build a winning brand?
Research the Market and Competitors
As always, research is key. The first thing you’ll look at is who your product is being aimed at. How old are they? Are they professionals? What’s their family size and income?
Building a buyer persona will be very helpful in imagining who will be using your product, and having your perfect customer in mind will nudge you in the right direction as you put your brand together. For example, if you’re targeting millennials, three-quarters of them think more highly of a brand that responds to questions on social media, so you’d better have a strong Twitter game.
The market that you’re in will also help determine your brand. In some markets — like hospitality and food — you can use a friendly, playful, or even cheeky tone. You’d be better to stay away from that in the health or law markets and focus more on being professional and trustworthy.
Look at your competitors to see where they’re succeeding and failing. Look at their names, logos, websites, and customer service. Read reviews from consumers, especially the negative ones. Standing out in an ever-increasingly crowded marketplace is paramount, so is there an opportunity to differentiate yourself?
Don’t forget to look at the biggest brands. The war between Coca-Cola and Pepsi is a long and interesting one. Both sell almost the same product, but in the end, one decided to market to families and the other went for the youth market. Inspiration is everywhere.
Write Your Mission Statement
Your mission statement is what you’ll keep referring back to in order to keep you on track. It’s your mantra that expresses your values and beliefs and explains to anyone that reads it exactly why your business exists in the first place.
Ask yourself the following questions: what is your business doing? How is your business doing it? Why is your business doing it? If you can’t answer them then it’s time to rethink. It should be short, evocative, and memorable; something that sums up your business.
If you’re stuck, research other brands’ mission statements for inspiration. For example, outdoor clothing brand Patagonia states: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Clearly, the environment is of huge concern to their brand, as is making a high-end product.
Unify Your Brand
You’ve done the research and know exactly where your business fits in the marketplace. With your mission statement at the ready, it’s time to take all those elements and unify them to finally create your brand.
Firstly, it is vital that you make sure your business name hasn’t been taken! Don’t put in all that work only to find out you can’t legally use your dream name. Check your country’s business website and run a search. Then trademark it ASAP and buy that domain name before someone else snatches it up.
Your business name and logo should go hand-in-hand. They should work together and ideally be two halves of a whole. When a customer sees that logo they should automatically think of your business name. There are countless examples of this but think of McDonald’s, Apple, Nike, and WWF.
Try to weave a story into your brand. Humans love stories; they play on our emotions, get us invested, and will give you limitless ways to create new adverts (an excellent example of this is the UK’s Compare the Market).
Your brand is your voice; make sure that every line on your website and in your materials evokes it with your chosen phrases and buzzwords. Your brand is your face; make sure to always use the same fonts and colours (using a signature colour increases brand recognition by 80% and some colours are more successful than others).
Now, when a potential customer visits your site, everything will combine to create the image of a confident, trustworthy, successful brand.
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