What do you want people to think of when they hear your company’s name? Of course you want a strong, positive impression to come to mind. But whatever they think of, good or bad, that is your brand.
Branding is vital to all businesses, but to the small business especially because branding is what enables you to stand out from the competition. After all, if you and the guy down the street are selling the same product, what is it that distinguishes your business? The answer is: Your brand. Your brand should communicate to potential customers why they should choose you.
…you need to make sure that your branding is conveying the promise that you think can best fill the needs of your desired customer…
Step 1: Customers choose you and your brand, for the most part, based upon your promise to them. Your job therefore is to think carefully about what your promise is:
Nike promises stylish products that will help you successfully get and stay in shape. Nike often uses big stars to promote its brand, backing up the success message. Nike’s slogan, “Just do it,” introduced back in the 1980s, has proven to be quite enduring. One thing that makes it great is its simplicity. This memorable tagline really does convey the corporate message.
So, what is your promise?
When your promise dovetails with the customer’s needs, they will choose you. Do you want a cool place to hangout and get a great cup of coffee? Then the promise of Starbucks is for you. But if you just want some quick, inexpensive coffee, then maybe driving through McDonald’s is a better fit.
So you need to make sure that your branding is conveying the promise that you think can best fill the needs of your desired customer.
Step 2: Focus on your unique value proposition. What is it that you do that is unique and special?
Say, for example, that you own an architectural firm that uses high-quality, eco-friendly materials. That then must be key to your branding. Of course, your green efforts need to be highlighted on your website, signs, logo, etc., but consider the message as part of the name of your business, such as Eco-Architects or Sustainability Architectural Partners.
Having your unique value proposition be part of the name will create instant branding.
Step 3: Craft a memorable tagline that reflects this message. Here at TheSelfEmployed, the tagline is, “Your gig just got easier.” That is the message we want to convey, and the promise we are making on this site.
Your tagline should be short and sweet. It should immediately let people know how they will benefit from your brand. You want something that will quickly cut to the core.
Step 4: If customers will be visiting a store or physical headquarters, make sure your branding is reflected throughout visual aspects at your location, such as your signage. Of course, printed materials and your online presence also need to showcase your brand through wording and design.
Step 5: Marketing is key. Your brand must be reflected in everything you do, from what you post on social media, to how the phone is answered, to how you treat customers. It all matters.
The way companies like Nike present and promote their brands is not accidental. You can bet that a great deal of thought, time and money was invested into precisely cultivating the intended imagery and messages. You may not be able to invest hundreds of thousands into your branding, but you can be just as precise.
It is up to you to figure out what makes you different and better. Focus on that, come up with a persuasive, compelling message, and then spread it in all you do.
Just do it.