Branding your business is an important part of any business. This is true no matter how big or small your business is. Having a recognizable brand gives you a major advantage over lesser known business and can make or break you in a highly competitive market. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of branding, it is essentially what customers can come to expect from your business’ products or services.
When you think of companies with strong branding identities, like Apple for example, you have an idea of what you can expect from their products. Branding your business will require you to do things like, defining your business and building an image. What I have to share with you isn’t an exhaustive list of how to build on branding, but it will get you started down the right path.
Define Your Business
This is where you take a hard look inwards and really do some reflection on what your business is about. Before you can create an image and tell the world who you are, you must first figure that out for yourself. You need to come up with a company mission statement, if you don’t already have one. A mission statement essentially defines your business and it’s reason for operating. This is mostly meant for internal use to keep as a constant reminder of what the company strives to be.
When crafting this statement think about your customers. What qualities do you want them think of when they think of your company? What do they currently think about your company? If your company is not viewed the way you would like, do some research on your customers and find out their needs and wants. This will give you an idea of what customers expect from your products or services and give you guidance on how to meet and exceed those expectations.
Build an Image
Now that you’ve gone through the process of defining your company’s mission statement, you can begin to craft an image that will showcase this to the world. Logically the first place you will want to start when it comes to crafting your image, is with your logo. Your logo will become a visual representation of what your company stands for. This may be a good time to consult with a graphic designer to help you craft a visual representation for your business. It is possible for you to create your logo on your own. Just keep in mind that first impressions are critical and if you have any doubt in your design ability you should seek help. It could mean the difference between catching someone’s eye or being an eyesore. Don’t be afraid to take a look at the logos of your competitors and some iconic brands.
The next part of creating your image is to come up with a tagline or a slogan. This is what will help to differentiate you from your competitors. A good memorable tagline can be just as important as your logo. Some memorable and effective taglines include American Express’ “Don’t leave home without it”, Mastercard’s “Priceless”, and State Farm’s “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” When coming up with your tagline try to avoid cliches and vague statements. You are essentially establishing the voice of your company, so be sure to be clear, concise and relevant.
Focus On Your Customer
Once you have your image crafted to your liking, you can begin the most important part of building your brand. Brand loyalty is the name of the game here and focusing on your customer, in my opinion, is the most important thing you can do. If you have a traditional brick and mortar store, you can can start off by being warm and welcoming. Be sure to greet your customers and follow up with them to see if they need help. Focus on how your store is designed and maintaining its cleanliness. Anything you can do to make the shopping experience positive for your customer is what you should focus on.
If your business is online you have a bit more of a challenge to build rapport. Since you can’t look your customers in the eye and build a relationship with them you will have to do this with your website. You will want to build your site with customer experience in mind. Everything should be simple and the design should be consistent with your company’s image.
Also think of what benefits or conveniences you can offer your customer to improve their shopping experience. Maybe you can provide them with better product description than your competitors or perhaps well thought out product recommendations. Consider offering customers the option to expedite the process with fast shipping options, as well as offering slower more cost effective shipping options for customers who are looking to pay less.
Making yourself available for your customers to reach you also goes a long way towards building your brand. Even though your business is online, having a phone number where you can be contacted will put you ahead of other businesses that only offer email support. You can also add a live chat option to your website that will help you engage with the customer while they are shopping. These two simple things can help add to the experience and make you stand-out to your customers. The individual attention this provides can make their experience memorable and will help to win you the brand loyalty that you need.
The next thing you should focus on is building a community where your customers can come together and interact with both your business and each other. Social media is the perfect place to do this. Interacting directly with your customers and listening to their ideas and complaints really makes them feel valued and in return they will continue to do business with you. Building a community will also give you an opportunity to run special promotions as well as get feedback on what you can do to improve your business. Make sure that you are careful not to spam your customer, you want your customers to look forward to reading your posts and not dreading them.
Branding your business, is a long and constant process. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the desired effects immediately. These are some of the basic ways to build your brand, but there are always more ways you can go about it. The major key to your success will be perserverance. Envision what you want for your company and put your heart and soul into it until you get there.