If it belongs to you (and you don't want someone else to take it) write your name on it! Back in the day of the wild, wild west, ranchers used branding to prove ownership of their cows. That branding usually sorted out any kind of argument about whose cows were whose if one were to wander off, or worse - get stolen by a rascally bandit. Today, branding is used a little differently, but with the same goal in mind...
Why is branding important?
As business entities grew to become household names, identifying your market presence began to require more than just putting your name on it. Before 1850, soap manufacture and sales was a local enterprise. With the rise of Lever and Palmolive the emergence of product-specific distinctive identification was a natural step. Soap was soap. It made things clean. Why buy Pears instead of Babbitt's?
Branding your business makes you identifiable. It makes it much easier for a shopper to find and purchase your tennis balls, tires, helicopters or hamburgers - because your brand is more than just your business name emblazoned on all your packaging.
You're a small to medium sized business. Why do you need strong branding? What are the best ways to brand a business, large or small?
Branding a Business = Establishing a Reputation
This is one thing you do have control over in the chaotic world of marketing. Leverage it! Sure, your business may have a good reputation among present and former customers, but imagine that good name presenting itself to hundreds of new customers all the time, everywhere. Better to embrace the possibilities, than leave your reputation to chance.
What if you don't intentionally develop a strong brand?
You won't really know who you are, and neither will your buyers. You put yourself in the unenviable position of having to reinvent yourself every day, no history, no future. Nothing to build on, nothing to shoot for.
Having a strong brand allows you to innovate and expand. Rather than trapping you in a corner, a well-considered brand carries consumer trust with you as you push into new areas.
Now for the Seven Best Ways to Brand a Business:
Zero in on your identity
First off, you already have a brand. Does it say what you want it to say about you? Even a simple signature or single letter of the alphabet conveys some kind of message to a consumer.
Once you figure out who you are, your identity will naturally become your consistent message, which strengthens your brand loyalty. Consider your customers' expectations. They can't bond with you if they never know what to expect.
Pro tip: Write it down. Come up with your brand's very own personality. Flesh it out, think of potential scenarios and how your brand should handle them - with humor? with grace? how? Clearly define the identity and voice of your brand and make sure everyone representing your brand knows and understands it.
Your Brand is Alive
Think about your brand as an extension of the people who made it. People have opinions, beliefs, values and motivations, and so does your brand. Take some time to think through the character of your business and how it fits your plans for the future.
Who are you really? And who do you want to be? What market space do you want to claim as your own ? What problem(s) do you like to solve for your customers? How do you want them to feel when they experience your business?
For example, are you a bold, innovative, fearless brand with big plans? Or a steady reassuring, homey brand that makes people feel loved?
Get engaged to your customers
Yes, that's right - betrothal, as in "long term relationship." Exclusivity, no fooling around with your competitors. To do that, you need to keep your promises and create realistic expectations with as much transparency as possible. It's just as important for a brand to stand for straight-shooting honesty as it is for low prices or convenient locations.
Be clear about who you are and then "To thine own self be true."
Why are places like McDonald's and Olive Garden so popular? Because the Big Mac and the Tour of Italy are the same whether you're in Savannah or San Francisco. Every time a customer has a positive experience with your brand (i.e., getting what they expect), it reinforces their loyalty and makes them delighted customers. When you brand a business, every promise kept is a customer earned. This is true not only for your product quality, but also for your content marketing, website design, and brand persona.
…But mix up the way you say it
Once you have your core identity settled, this should be no problem. You're just painting the picture from different angles. You're really good if you can coordinate the different angles into a comprehensive whole. Coca Cola has had 45 different taglines since its inception, but all of them are pointed in some way toward the transcendent experience of drinking an ice-cold Coke. In 1930, it was "Meet me at the soda fountain" to 2006's "The Coke side of life," and today's "Open Happiness."
Imitation may be flattering, but not when it comes to branding a business
Authenticity is a value on the rise in the marketplace now. Even the big players are creating product lines that look and feel like small independent brands. It's cool to be one-of-a-kind. A brand that says Mass-Produced Behemoth was once a proud and attractive story, that's not true so much anymore.
Goose Island Beer? Anheuser Busch.
Naked Juice? PepsiCo.
Burt's Bees? Clorox.
So be your authentic self and leverage the fact that you are one-of-a-kind, and don't try to coattail.
And most importantly - Represent
You and your employees, by virtue of working at your company, are duty bound to act in accordance with your brand. That means social media, direct communication with customers, vendors, other employees- anyone who might be a stakeholder at some level. Even discounting can be taken too far and give off the perception that you're compensating. Remember seeing your brand as a person? Don't be that guy who thinks money can buy him love. Be intriguing, let discovery of the serendipitous do its magic.
Your brand both comes out of and shapes the personality of your business. It tells everyone what you think you're doing in your marketplace and why. It emphatically answers the simplest of questions: "Why you and not some other business?
We love helping businesses of all sizes discover and deploy their best message to ready customers. We'll help you reach your potential. We're United WebWorks of Savannah GA. We hope these brief seven points are helpful, but there's a LOT more. Contact us to find out how we can use our internet marketing expertise to help boost your brand today.