One of the most important things you can do when you run a business is to create a brand around it. It is this brand that is going to be most recognizable, and bring you the most business. Get your branding right, and you might even – eventually – be able to save money on marketing. At the very least, you can persuade people to trust you and buy from you with your branding correctly in place.
The question is, though, how to get started. What do you need to think about before you can start creating the brand that is going to help take your business to the next level? Read on to find out.
All branding has to have some purpose behind it, and that means your brand has to have a purpose too. Without purpose, your branding is going to be difficult to pin down, and even more difficult to keep consistent as you try to add it to your everyday business and your marketing.
There are four questions you need to ask to determine the true purpose of your branding:
Once these four questions are answered honestly, your branding – and your entire marketing campaign – will be much easier to put into place. Even if you’re not sure of all the different elements right from the start, you can use these questions as a starting point.
Research is always a vital component of being in business, and researching your competitors, particularly those who are doing very well, is one of the most important elements to look into. It might not be something you like to do, especially if it highlights where they are doing better than you, but it is crucial.
By carrying out this research, you can ascertain just how you are able to differentiate yourself from them. It will also show you what they are doing in terms of branding and marketing. Although you should never copy anyone else’s branding ideas, you might be able to see their ideas and it could spark some ideas of your own. See what they are doing well – or where they are failing – and ensure you use this information to inform your own branding challenges.
Once you have an idea of what your purpose is, and you know how your competition is going about their own branding and marketing, you need to know who your target audience is. Although it is possible to market to a wide audience, and include as many different people as possible, this idea probably won’t work. What appeals to one set of people won’t be so tempting to another, for example, and by using a ‘scattergun’ approach you will be missing out on really being able to target those who will want to buy your product or services.
Ideally, you need to make your marketing and branding as specific as possible. It might be that only those studying for an MSN degree will need what you are selling, or only those who live in a specific area, or who have children of a certain age, or who prefer cats to dogs, and so on. The more specific you can be, the better your marketing will be, and the more useful your branding will be.
You cannot have any form of branding that doesn’t gel with what you are trying to sell. If you do, you will simply confuse potential customers who won’t really know what it is you are offering them.
In order to have the most effective branding, it must match what your business is all about. Yet more than that, it should also offer an insight into the key qualities and benefits of having your product or service over and above anyone else’s. You should focus on exactly which elements make you truly unique so you can pass this information quickly and easily on to your prospects.
The best way to do this is not to simply give them a list of what you can do, but to explain how what you can do will positively affect their lives. You need to give as much information as possible if you are going to sell, because if you leave anything even a little confusing or unfinished those potential customers will walk away – there are plenty of other choices they could make, after all.