The Learning Center
AKA... The Blog
AKA... The Blog
So, you’ve created a fool proof business plan, gained the necessary capital from investors and other sources, purchased a strategic business location, and compiled a cohesive team of professionals. It’s finally time to launch your business! Right?
Sorry, not yet. You’re missing one key component of a successful small business – a strong brand.
Without a brand and image for your newfound company, you’ll have a difficult time attracting and retaining customers. Think about the ‘big contenders’ in the business world, such as IBM, Microsoft, General Electric, Ford Motor Company and more. Why do these businesses have such a large customer following and loyalty? Because of the unique brand experience they provide their customers. Your business needs a strong and engaging brand that consumers can connect and interact with. In order to that, you need to start with the four crucial branding elements.
You decided to start your business for a reason. Was it to provide customers with a level of service that no other business could? Perhaps it was because you wanted to turn your passion into a continuous stream of profit. Use your specific reason to develop a concrete positioning statement and set your business apart from the competition.
When drafting your positioning statement, it may be your first instinct to list why your products or services are better than the competition. However, a strong brand positioning looks far beyond the products and services provided, and instead connects with the benefits received by the customer. For instance, does your product help a customer get through their day productively? Perhaps focus your brand on the convenience and efficiency one would experience. Is your service a bit on the expensive side? Your brand should display elegance, luxury and professionalism – all of which the customer will experience when they interact with your company. Get the picture? A good rule of thumb is to craft your positioning statement around the benefits of your service, rather than the functionality.
Your brand needs a voice. For a great example, think about Disney. Everything they say or do is “magical”, family-oriented and fun. You’ll never catch Disney swaying from that tone of voice. Your brand voice should reflect the values and positioning of your business. The tone of your business should be evident in everything that you do, from your marketing materials to the way your business interacts with customers. If your brand voice is inconsistent, you will have a hard time establishing a brand image and presence.
What would McDonalds be without the Golden Arches? Nike without the swoosh? These symbols will become attached to your business overtime and be a point of reference and recognition for your current and future customers. Whatever your brand image may be, your logo can display that to your target market.
In congruence with your brand strategy, your logo must accurately reflect your business values and service. If your small company values professionalism and order, a logo with a cartoon character or cheeky font may not be the best route for your logo and branding strategy. Your logo will represent your company on all marketing materials, online channels, and more. When desigining your small business logo, make sure it best suits your business and image.
Your brand is not limited to your logo and a few marketing materials. Instead, your brand is what the consumer feels, thinks, and experiences when interacting with your business in any capacity. From the minute your customer logs on to your website or steps foot inside your store, your brand needs to be evident. Whether displayed through the color combinations on your website or via the delightful customer service from your employees, your brand should extend to the tangible aspects of your business. Your branding strategy should be consistent throughout all parts of your business, from your online channels to the décor of your office or store. Remember, your brand is far more than a logo, tagline and your business name – it’s an experience.