Think of building your brand like building a house. You have to have a solid foundation to build a strong stable home and it’s no different for your business. Branding is the foundation of your business and it needs to be solid and strong to build a stable business. It’s important to invest the proper time and resources to get it right the first time.
When people think of branding, they usually think of a logo. However, a logo is only a piece of a company’s overall brand. Your brand should speak about what your company stands for, what differentiates you, as well as how you want people to feel when they encounter your brand. Ultimately, branding conveys the overall personality of your company.
Your brand should drive everything from the look and feel of your marketing materials to how employees answer the phone. The most successful and memorable brands are the ones that have developed a strong brand message and have implemented it consistently throughout every aspect of their business.
A great example is Apple. They have branded themselves as a company that makes high-end, innovative products geared towards a hip, tech-savvy consumer. Everything from their product design, packaging, advertising to their store layout reinforces this idea.
Before you hire someone to create a logo, website or any other marketing materials, it’s vital to determine your brand message. Your brand message not only explains why customers should choose you but if done properly your brand will make them think that you are the only one that can solve their problem.
It’s important as a business owner to define your brand. You can hire someone to help you develop your brand, but you really need to do your homework and answer the following questions yourself. You and only you know the answers. You need to have clarity on who your business is in order to start the branding process.
Here are some simple questions that will help you define your brand.
- Determine what problem you solve. When you decided to start a business, you realized that you could fill a need in the marketplace. What is that need or that problem that only you can solve? Remember, your business isn’t about you, it’s about filling a need.
- What is your area of innovation? As an entrepreneur, you have the unique ability to determine what is important to you and your business. What do you want your business to stand for? Quality? Price? Convenience? Think about one or two words or phrases that you want to define your business. Keep it simple. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to communicate effectively and for your customers to identify.
- Who is your target market and why do they care? Understanding who your customers are and what’s important to them will help you develop an effective message to attract them. For example, do your customers want Quality or Value? Speed or Convenience? Experience or innovation? There is a huge difference between Walmart and Macy’s and you’ll need to determine where your customers are and what they think in order to develop the proper message. You can’t be all things to all people, so make sure your brand speaks to your target audience.
- What makes you truly unique and different? Part of branding is determining how your business stands apart from your competitors. Let’s stick with the dog-walking business example. If your business targets working mothers, you could include other add-on services that would be appealing to this audience. For instance, when you come to walk the dog, you can pick up or drop off the dry cleaning. Or, your service could include bathing the dog once a week. Listen to your audience. Research your competitors. Then, determine what makes your business different.