Branding is the starting point for businesses. Many small businesses understand that a brand is important to their business, but a surprisingly high number don’t really know why and even more don’t really know what makes a strong brand or just what comes with branding. Branding is a way of defining your business to yourself, your team and your customers. It could be called the business’ “identity”, but only on the understanding that it symbolises what the business is and its values. The benefits that a finely tuned brand can bring are the same as when people fall in love with each other. When customers connect emotively because they share the same values and beliefs of a brand — it leads to higher sales and better brand differentiation. It also leads to loyalty; advocacy and can even protect your price in times when competitors rely on promotional discounts to drive sales. It can also give you the ideal platform from which to extend your offering or range. Here are ten tips on how to successfully implement branding for your business.
1. Start by defining your brand. Review the product or service your business offers, pinpoint the space in the market it occupies and research the emotive and rational needs and concerns of your customers. Your brand should promote your business, connect with your customer base and differentiate you in the market.
2. Aim to build long-term relationships with your customers. Don’t dress up your offering and raise expectations that result in broken promises, create trust with honest branding — be clear who your company is and be true to the values that drive it every day and stick by them.
3. Speak to your customers with a consistent tone of voice. It will help reinforce the businesses character and clarify its offering so customers are aware exactly what to expect from the product or service.
4. Don’t repeat the same message in the same way over and over again. Alternatively, aim to make your key messages work together to build a coherent identity.
5. Don’t try to mimic the look of chains or big brands. Try and create your own distinct identity. There is a big consumer trend towards independent establishments, and several chains are in fact trying to mimic an independent feel to capture some of that market. Truly independent brands can leverage their status to attract customers who are looking for something more original and authentic, that aligns with how feel about themselves.
6. Be innovative, bold and daring – stand for something you believe in. Big brands are encumbered by large layers of bureaucracy, preventing them from being flexible and reacting to the changing needs of customers. Those layers of decision-makers can make it hard for them to be daring with their branding.
7. Always consider your branding when communicating with customers. Don’t lose your pride or dilute your brand positioning with indiscriminate discounting. Try offering more, rather than slashing prices. Promotions are an opportunity to reinforce your brand mission.
8. The old way of stamping your logo on everything won’t cut it. The future of branding is fluid and engaging — respect your customers’ intelligence by not giving everything away up front. Generate some intrigue and allow them to unearth more about your brand for themselves. This is the way to foster ambassadors who revel in telling other people what they have discovered.