Think of your brand as a flag waving at your customers and prospects. What does it mean to them? Just as a national flag represents the values of a nation, your brand tells the marketplace what your business stands for.
The role of your brand is to increase awareness of the products and services you offer and communicate their benefits. Your brand is a combination of your logo, the key messages your business uses, the people that represent your business and the services you provide. Together, these elements provide a unified image for everything that your customers see – including brochures, ads, letters, web sites, and press releases.
Envision Pepsi, UPS, or McDonalds. We all know their logos and we know what those businesses stand for. Small businesses can also build brand recognition.
Key elements in developing your brand are commitment, planning, consistency, credilbity, and measurement.
Commitment – Commitment is about time and money. Branding involves a commitment to the process. It requires taking the time to develop and execute a brand strategy with frequent messages and communication. Commitment also involves the investment of funds. How many times have I heard – “I’ll invest in marketing after I have a few customers.” If you’re not prepared to invest in your buisiness, you probably shouldn’t be in business.
Planning – Develop a marketing and branding strategy. Know the steps you are going to take to communicate your brand. Marketing isn’t about doing one thing and they saying ‘oops, that didn’t work’, and trying something else. A series of activities over time creates your brand recognition.
Consistency – Communicate with your prospects and customers on a regular basis. Consistently using each marketing tool as part of a unified strategy to increase brand image and awareness.
Credibility – Create an image that says your company is here to stay. Offer guarantees. Use client testimonials throughout your marketing materials. Share your biography and those of your key employees.
Measurement – Evaluate your branding goals and strategies. Are you accomplishing your objective? Achieving a return on investment? What can you do to achieve better performance?
Determine what your brand stands for. How do you differentiate your business from its competitors? What are your customers looking for? What is your vision for your business? Is it service? Low price? Breadth of product offerings? Next day delivery?
Clearly explain the value your business brings its customers. You want someone picking up your marketing materials to feel that – yes – this business has what I am looking for. Sometimes, you are so close to your business that it is hard to take a step back and see it as your customers do. Ask these questions:
Branding isn’t something you do once and forget about. It’s an on going combination of marketing and action. It’s that flag waving at your customers and prospects. You need to control what they see.
Branding is managing the thoughts and feelings of your customers to ensure that your business is the one they choose. If your desired brand image isn’t what’s in the minds of your target audience, you need to figure out where the gaps are and how to address them.