Small businesses are often focused on delivering their product, dismissing “branding” as a lofty goal best left to large corporations. We often see this in clients who do not understand what a brand is, believing it is something tangible, such as a logo or tagline. Branding is about the customer’s perception of your business. You already have a brand, whether you realize it or not; you just might not be in control of it.
The danger of not having control of your brand is that others — possibly your competitors — can dictate its direction. This puts you at a market disadvantage and makes it harder to attract new customers.
Here are the four factors that we here at Initial Design think are the most important to consider.
1. Identify Your Message
One of the first steps to establishing your brand is to identify and develop a clear message. What goals does your company have and how do they benefit the customer? What values does your business hold regarding customer service? How do you want your customers to experience your business? These are all questions to consider when defining your specific brand and business as a whole.
2. Build a Strategy for Each Communications Channel
There are multiple means of communicating with your customers, each one of which requires its own tactics and approach to convey your brand.
Your physical location is one such channel. When someone visits your location, how they are greeted by your employees, the cleanliness of your facility and the decor of your offices all convey your brand. A strategy for this channel might have employee training as a key success factor in communicating the right brand. In contrast, for the social media channel, such issues as timeliness of your Twitter feeds and syndicating the right sources of useful information might be central to your strategy. No single strategy can bridge all brand channels.
3. Be Consistent
Your prospects and customers respond best to positive repetition. It’s not enough that your facility is clean one time when a customer walks in the door, it has to be clean every time if you want people to associate cleanliness with your brand. Likewise, the content you push through social media should repeat the same set of benefits that you bring to your customers. Nothing destroys a brand faster than trying to push a “benefit of the month” to your prospects.
4. Always Look for Improvement
For your brand to be successful, you must constantly look to improve and continue to evolve your business. When possible, make changes that will satisfy or exceed your customers needs. Continually consider feedback given by your customers. By doing so, you are showing that you are a company that strives to improve itself, which is a key part of your brand.
By taking control of your brand, you are establishing who you are, telling your story and and not letting others define how you are labeled. Having a concrete brand sets the stage for growth and allows your business to stand out from competitors. Following the steps above can help in this process.