Updated: Oct 19
Many small business owners we talk to already understand that branding is essential to their business, but a surprisingly high number of them don't really know why.
Most small business owners often get confused around the meaning of branding and let’s face it in “Marketing world” the word is used a lot, but what does it actually entail? And more importantly is it expensive?
Well my fellow entrepreneurs it doesn't have to be, and there are tons of Pretty Vicious and creative ways to brand your business without spending all your cash. And while it will require an investment of time, the return will be well worth it! And it may even help you save money, while also growing your business.
SO WHY IS BRANDING SO IMPORTANT?
An original and relatable brand differentiates a leading business from a forgettable one. Customers in the modern marketplace have more product options to choose from and access to more information to inform their decisions, which requires your brand to connect with them on a deeper level in order to stand out.
Consumers connect with a brand because they relate to the reason why a business exists, which extends far beyond your products or services. Your brand is your businesses’ voice, identity, value, and awareness among consumers. And, thanks to the vast number of resources, tools, and platforms available today building your brand might not be as costly as you think.
1. DEFINE YOUR BRAND
Make sure you review the products or services your business offers, pinpoint the space in the market it occupies and research the emotive and rational needs and concerns of your customers to determine how your brand solves these concerns. Your brand character should promote your business, connect with your customer base and most importantly differentiate you in the market.
2. KNOW YOUR PERSONAS
82% of businesses with better #valuepropositions also use semi-fictional “characters” that encompass all the qualities of each of the segments you’re trying to reach. These are known as #buyerpersonas.
The needs, goals, and behaviour of your potential customers dictate how you convey your product or service to them. Understanding those things will help you determine what kind of channel and approach is best for each of the personas as you know what motivates them, and where they “live” online. Having this detailed information helps develop a compelling, effective brand by helping you reach the right people.
Figuring this out doesn’t have to come at a price, simply develop a series of questions about the ideal person you want to reach, how you want to be perceived and by whom.
3. DEVELOP AN IDENTITY AND A VOICE
Once you’ve identified your buyer personas, your brand can start to take shape and begin to create a #brandidentity. I.e the things that make people aware of what your brand is and its voice, which is the tone you use in any copy or communication. What are its values? What does it represent? How do you want people to talk about you? Find out more about brand storytelling.
4. BE CONSISTENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
It’s important and also highly effective to reach people where they’re already present and that includes online too. Check out Pew Research Center’s Demographics of Social Media Users, which profiles the users of five major social media platforms -- Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Pay close attention to where the majority of your personas spend most of their time and don’t ignore the others of course, but dedicate the most resources to the platforms that reach your target audience, establish that presence, and maintain it.
Blogging is a core part of your #inboundmarketing Methodology and attracting new visitors to your website. Create informative content that matches the information your customers are searching for, make it relevant to this audience and make sure the content is optimized for those searches.
Your #blogcontent will also serve as material to populate your social media networks and whilst blogging is inexpensive, there is a time cost involved. Make sure you put together an editorial calendar template, complete with instructions and content management tips.
6. MAKE CUSTOMER SERVICE A PRIORITY
Excellent customer service should be the cornerstone of your brand and can actually save you money on marketing and advertising. That’s because it creates word-of-mouth marketing among those happy existing and potential customers. Recognition that your brand has earned and not paid for, from people talking about something amazing that your brand did is always best. See our recent blog post on Word of Mouth Marketing.
7. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CO BRANDING
Sometime the best way to get your name in front of a broader audience is to partner with a brand that has one. But don’t just pick any old brand, make sure it’s one that’s aligned with your values. The partnership has to make sense and resonate with your audience. Consider your partner’s audience. Would it be interested in your brand? Is it that difficult for you to reach this audience without this partnership?
You may also want to consider selecting a well-known and respected nonprofit as a co-brand. More and more people’s purchasing decisions are based on a brand’s social responsibility - in fact, 85% of millennials say that makes them more willing to recommend a brand.
So the bottom line is you need your customers to fall in love with you because the benefits that a strategically defined 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 #branddifferentiation. It also leads to loyalty, advocacy and can even protect your pricing in times of competition without you having to use promotional discounts to drive sales. It can also give you the ideal platform from which to extend your offering or range.
Building a brand might seem like a huge undertaking, especially when resources are limited. But as we’ve seen, there are plenty of economical ways to get started. If you would like to continue the momentum you started get in touch with one of our experts who can assist you with building your brand identity.
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check out our FREE resources, including a Brand Development questionnaire which will help with the strategic process of creating and distinguishing your company's image, products and services from your competitors. Includes aligning your brand with your business objectives, communicating your brand to your target market and updating or strengthening your brand as necessary.
Until next time...