Think of a brand as a reputation. It can be anything that separates one product from another. The fast-food restaurant Wendy’s separates itself from other burger joints by placing the founder’s daughter, Wendy Thomas, in the logo. Doing so helps their customers better identify with the restaurant’s mission and values. It clearly demonstrates a message of “family values” to the consumer and brand identity can be a strong selling point.
On a business level, branding is common. Although perception is ultimately determined by public favor, you still have the power to influence feelings about your small business. Strategy, visuals, and messaging all make up your brand. An authentic approach drives it home.
Your brand is your most valuable and indispensable asset. Take steps to maximize its long-term value. Put as much care into your consumers as you did into nurturing your dreams for all these years. It will pay off.
Why Build Your Brand?
Successful branding is about identifying key differences in strategy from your competition. Branding is the foundation of customer loyalty. You’ll need to carefully consider your mission, employ some creativity, and have a strong desire to connect with people who will ultimately help make your company a success. These are the baby steps of building your brand advocate army.
A well-crafted brand marries together things like:
All of these help increase brand recognition by up to 80%, according to a study conducted by the University of Loyola. Make sure your visual branding is sharp, colorful, and memorable. Adopt a unique and distinguishable color palette to separate you from your competition. There’s nothing worse than a bland, uninspired logo design.
Write Your Mission Statement
What are you offering your customers? What would you say are some of your qualities, values, and experiences that distinguish you from others?
Why are you so damn cool?
Project an accurate image of what your company strives to be. Identify and articulate your mission statement. Be clear about what separates you from the rest of the pack. Think about:
- Reasons you started your business.
- Goals you hope to achieve and when you want to achieve them.
- Who you’re trying to help.
- What makes you different from other entrepreneurs.
- What makes your company special.
It’s much easier to communicate the right tone with your following when you visualize the image you want to project. Formalizing your story and mission statement is totally up to you. It could be several paragraphs long or summarized into one phrase. Keep it natural, whatever you do. Sounding forced or robotic is the worst.
Create Your Logo
A logo is the cornerstone of your brand. It’s a visual representation of your company’s signature. Customers will look for it on each product, advertisement, and company document. Businesses use logos to communicate quality to their buyers. Done well, it will become part of your company’s legacy, much like the iconic Nike swoosh.
Consider different color schemes. Varying color combinations cause different psychological reactions. Here’s a short list of some of these reactions:
- Black: Authority, power, and dominance
- Red: Emotionally intense; heart beats more quickly
- Blue: Calming, peace, tranquility
- Green: Represents nature; easiest color on the eyes, refreshing
- Yellow: Catches attention; easily overwhelming
- Brown: Represents genuineness; can also come off as mundane, sad and wistful
Ultimately, your logo speaks a thousand words about your company in one graphic, so make it good! A bad logo can be a serious no-no!!!
Build a Website and Blog
Having a website and blog establishes the social proof of your brand. It gives you a platform through which to regularly publish content. Becoming an authority in your industry helps you connect with new customers. Thought leadership is the primary way to sell these days.
Publish videos that describe your products or services. Write about your thoughts on your industry and changes you anticipate. Describe who you are as a company. Be a leader of thought.
What’s more, websites with blogs get better rankings in Google. Having a lot of content for search engines to index is an important factor for search engine optimization (SEO). When your site is decorated with a plethora of valuable content, search engines take note and present you like an Oscar trophy on the red carpets.
Start Video Marketing
Consumers love easy-to-digest, uber-short videos they can watch quickly before moving on to other things. A quality video will do more for your brand than just about anything else. Video marketing accounts for 69% of all internet traffic. It’s so effective that 64% of digital marketers plan to include video as the center of their respective outreach strategies.
Tons of video platforms, like YouTube and Vimeo, give your video content a greater reach. Whatever you do, do not adopt a set-and-forget approach to video marketing. Talk to your prospective customers. Interact with people who post comments or questions about your brand. Respond to concerns with sincerity and empathy. Thank people for taking the time to post valuable feedback. It’s not rocket science, it’s just being friendly!
Choose Your Preferred Tone
Consistency is a common theme here. It’s pretty much the same for choosing a voice. Think of it as what you’ll use across all your writings and communications with your audience. How are people expecting to be spoken to in your niche market?
Do you plan on being an upbeat company with a hip following? How about a more serious, technically inclined business? Your tone establishes who your audience can expect to hear from.
Don’t change your language or character for your website. Be it email marketing, social media updates, or video monologues in your ads, keep it consistent.
Not just original, be your authentic self. Copying another brand’s style, method, or logo will only make yours look like the cheap, knock-off version. Your audience will more likely think of your brand as the imitation instead of the trailblazing powerhouse it is.
Need inspiration? Revisit that mission statement. Review your story and your reasons for starting your business in the first place. Use it to inspire the maverick within and push out new and innovative content.
Create a Plan for the Future
By all means, live in the moment. As a business owner, you have to be present and absorb your successes as they occur.
That said, start thinking about the bigger picture as you develop your online branding approach. Place it in line with your goals. To help your strategy define future outcomes, polish your branding language over time. Ask yourself questions like:
- Five years from today, what cool branding tools do I want to have working for me?
- This time next year, which social media platforms would deliver the most ROI?
- How can I better tie my profit goals to my branding plan?
Be proactive about branding by always keeping your eyes on the next week, month, and year. Short-terming your way through branding doesn’t work. Sure, it might deliver small rewards here and there, but overall, you’ll find planning the most profitable.
At some point, you’ll want to add storytelling through video marketing to your strategy. It’s an economical way for small businesses to leverage their branding to grow their reach. Embrace the rallying power of a good story.
Branding is the crucial stepping-stone to more significant audience interactions. Businesses use branding to establish pivotal emotional connections with their customer base. Done well, successful branding and promotion lead to more customers, larger exposure, and increased conversions.
Don’t let your company’s size or age deter you. Big or small, you’re going to be marketing to the same people and trying to convert them into customers. So, what if they have a head start or larger advertising budget? The secret to successful branding is knowing your people, engaging with them, and simply fitting in like one of the crowd.