Experts tell us that we’re exposed to more than 5,000 marketing messages every day. Your clients and prospects are on marketing overload, and getting your message heard above the crowd can be a challenge. Branding your company can help you do just that, and to survive and thrive in today’s competitive marketplace you need to be heard!
Contrary to what you might have heard, branding doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Large corporations certainly spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to brand products. However, solopreneurs and consultants, willing to invest the time and effort, can brand their services and products affordably.
Branding Basics: What is Branding Anyway?
Branding encompasses the entire “feel” associated with your company. It’s expressed in your every communication: the way the phone is answered, the look of your printed materials and website and how you network in the community. It’s your company’s reputation within your particular marketplace. It’s an implied promise made to your customers that helps build trust, confidence and loyalty.
For a small business, the brand is inextricably linked to the owner. It represents your values, expertise and personality. To some degree, it will take on your personality.
Branding your business:
o Enables you to attract the right clients by reaching them with a relevant message that speaks directly to their need
o Communicates a clear and consistent message that builds credibility and trust
Helps to develop strong, loyal relationships between you and your target customers
o Gives a competitive edge that helps customers and prospects to easily remember your services and products when they have a need
When a company’s printed materials, website and signage send a consistent message with similar text, graphics and colors, it conveys a solid, professional image. It provides the level of comfort a potential client may need to do business with that company. Check to see if you are communicating a mixed or confusing message that might undermine your credibility and professionalism. Perhaps use a focus group to give you objective feedback.
Seven Steps to Brand Your Business:
1. You are the key, so before you begin, it’s essential to review what is really important to you and your business. Understanding your core values personally and as a business is an essential foundation.
2. Identify your target market. Select a specific market niche. When you want as many customers as possible, cutting out the larger market to concentrate on one small segment can appear to defy logic. However, the narrower your niche, the more effectively you’ll be able to communicate your message.
3. Learn everything you can about your clients’ businesses. Understand the challenges they face, and their greatest needs and desires that your services or products meet.
4. Know your market. Know your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, what they are known for, what they claim to do best. Identify your position — where you fit within that market.
5. Pick your differentiator. Stand for one thing that sets you apart: that single unique quality that gives you a competitive advantage — your unique selling proposition. You probably do many things well, but you can’t effectively communicate a laundry list of strengths.
Warning: You can’t brand “excellent products” or “good service.” Your customers automatically expect this.
6. With the above information in mind, write your Branding Proposition. Keep it simple, and make sure it’s easy to understand. You must captivate your audience immediately with a relevant and compelling message that includes your logo. In studies, people shown text with graphics remembered more than when shown text alone.
7. Consistently communicate your message across every medium you use — print, web and telephone contact. Ensure that employees, clients and strategic partners understand and can explain your brand.