Last Updated: Aug 15, 2017
Developing your business’ brand is one of the most important steps in starting a business. It’s how customers will remember you and how you’ll stand out from the competition. Put these brand strategies to work when crafting your brand.
Finding the right idea to start a small business is the first step in your startup efforts. The challenging part is building a brand around the idea that people will remember. Your great idea enters into a competition with other peoples’ great ideas to gain the eyes of the consumer. How can you build your brand in ways that will keep you in the minds of your consumers?
Brand strategy is defined as a long-term plan to establish your business’ identity with its target customers and audience. A good brand strategy is delivered through every part of your business and works towards specific goals.
Here’s how to develop a brand strategy for your business:
A logo helps distinguish your business from all the others out there that sell similar products and services. The pictorial nature of a logo – even if it’s just words printed in a stylized way – helps customers remember you and helps them think of your company as an established, reputable small business. Your logo should look professional, and optionally, include an image that’s in some way associated with your industry. Unless you are an artist or are very proficient in graphic arts, it’s best to have your logo professionally designed for you. There are many sites online that provide that service at reasonable prices.
Once you have a logo, be sure to include it on everything associated with your business. It should be on your website, social media pages, business card, letterhead, envelopes, fliers, giveaways and print advertising. Try to think of the colors in your logo as your brand colors, too, and use those colors whereever appropriate (such as your website.)
Slogans (also called taglines) are very short phrases that express what your business is about and – more importantly – a beneficial result your customers derive from the business or product. When you create a slogan, it helps distinguish your business from others and make it more memorable. M & M’s slogan, “Melts in your mouth, not your hand,” is one example. Another: Bounty’s tagline, “The quicker picker upper.” Use the slogan where ever you use your logo, and consider having a version of your logo created that includes the slogan.
Brand awareness is simply marketing and although social media and other forms of digital marketing have added new options, nothing has changed. The people who hustle the most will find the most success. Don’t look to technology to be your hustler. It’s all up to you. Online marketing is only one channel among all of your networking and offline strategy. Door to door and cold calling aren’t dead.
As entrepreneur Mark Cuban says, “Work like there is somebody working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.”
You don’t have to be the only one that hustles. You need some super fans hustling for you. In modern advertising speak these are, “brand advocates.” Maybe they had such an awesome experience that they talk about it online to their large social following. Leverage those people. Offer free product or a referral fee for anybody they send to you.
Do you know how Uber rose to power? The company looked for the big name social media influencers and offered free rides. You might not have the marketing power to invite Kendall Jenner or some other giant name in the social media landscape but local and regional bloggers with a huge following will work too.
You’ve seen infographics—those illustrations filled with facts and other valuable information. If your business is in the consulting sector or some other professional or semi-professional niche, leverage your status as an expert and create a shareable infographic full of facts and figures that your potential customer would want to know. Don’t skimp on this, though. Make it really good. Hire an expert to design it.
Have you ever taken one of those online quizzes? They’re fun, engaging, and immensely shareable. But they don’t have to be, “who is your ideal mate” type quizzes. They could be something that the customer finds value in relating to your business. If you’re in the roofing business, it could be a quiz to rate how much life is left on their roof, for example. You’ll likely need a programmer to help with this but that isn’t as expensive as you might think.
Many small businesses have put their logo in a high school program, on a local 5k, or some other valuable community event. The problem is that your logo isn’t enough. Don’t just sponsor the event, show up! Bring water if it’s an athletic event. Run an all-day contest of some sort, and most important, meet people. Create relationships.
If you want to get your business in front of the eyes of potential customers, you have to advertise. If you have no budget for paid advertising, the chances of gaining traction are slim. Even $50 per month for social media advertising is better than nothing.
Other businesses in and out of your space are trying to keep their brand in front of their customers too. Explore strategic ways to partner up. A website building company could partner with a video producer to create content for each other or a plumber and electrician could advertise together as a complete solution for somebody doing home upgrades. Splitting the cost of advertising is a cheap way to get your brand to many more people than you could on your own.
A recent report published on Adweek found that 49% of people still prefer brands to contact them through e-mail. You can use social media, text messaging, or phone calls but all of those combined were only 22% of people’s first choice. Look at Mailchimp or one of the other e-mail marketing platforms to get started.
You probably think sending people old fashioned mail is dead but you would be wrong. That same survey found that 22% of people still respond to direct mail campaigns—especially if they’re 35 or older. Many of the strategies we listed above could be made into a direct mail campaign.
Sadly, we live in a world where outstanding customer service is becoming an exception rather than a norm. Your brand will stay top-of-mind to your customers if they look forward to dealing with you. Chic Fil A has made a name for itself not just with great food but with equally great customer service.
When somebody writes to you on social media, respond right away. Same with e-mail. If they call, call them back. If they’re unhappy, make it right—even if they’re not entirely right. Give away free product from time to time, and be a part of the community. Simply, establish your brand as a company that absolutely loves people.
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