Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does "branding" mean? How does it affect a small business like yours? Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors'.
Branding gives your business an identity. A brand represents the product, personality and values of a business and enables these to be easily understood and appreciated by customers. A picture speaks a thousand words and so does a brand. If you were to mention the names McDonalds, Pepsi, or Starbucks to most people they would form an immediate mental picture of that business and its products. Having a strong brand builds familiarity and trust between a business and its customers. This enables a business to sell to customers much easier. You already have an advantage over competitors because customers know your business, so they’re more likely to choose you — and this has a positive effect on any lead generation/direct response marketing you do.
As local marketers, we spend most of our time obsessing about optimizing for keywords and locations that our clients want to rank/attract customers for. We need to deliver quick, positive results to reassure clients that their money is well spent with us. This situation isn’t going to go away, but can we deliver brand building opportunities along with traditional local marketing results? Absolutely! And the upshot is that, by helping to build their brand, we create value in a business which serves them well in the long term.
Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don't rely on what you think they think -kKnow what they think. Since defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, consider the following questions:
First of all, get a great logo and place it everywhere. Also, think about what the key messages are that you want to communicate within your brand. Successful branding should extend to every aspect of your business, from how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything. Create a "voice" for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist. Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand. Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don't need to be fancy, just consistent. Be true to your brand. Customers won't return to you--or refer you to someone else--if you don't deliver on your brand promise. Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can't do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.