About four or five decades ago, the basic idea behind building a brand was quite different from what branding is today. Back then, branding often meant a good logo, a custom name or design, a catchy slogan, or a combination of these visual cues to help customers identify the brand with certain services and products.
Today, branding has become more complex, with different moving parts required to establish a strong brand. It’s also become quite important. A 2015 Nielsen survey found that over 59% of consumers often go for products and services from familiar brands. It helps build trust while improving recognition for your business – two of the most significant elements for boosting customer acquisition and retention.
Understanding the importance of branding is just the first step. Building and marketing your brand is the next step. And even though it’s one of the most challenging facets of modern businesses, many small businesses are succeeding at it.
Check out the following pointers for ideas on how to grow your local business into a memorable and formidable brand.
#1. Know Your Target Customers
There’s no way you can build a brand without first understanding who your brand will be speaking to. You can never be everything to everyone at any one moment. For this reason, you need to identify your audience – people who are most likely to go “aha” as soon as they interact with your brand.
Your target customers are those who are most likely to get your brand message with the least of efforts. Make sure you know everything about them – geographical location, demographics, shopping habits, and everything else you can use to characterize them. Are they college students who are studying overseas or stay-at-home moms or dads who shop or work online?
With your target audience in mind, you can better create a brand message and mission that speaks to their individual needs.
#2. Create A Brand Message and Voice
Once you’ve known who you are reaching out, you can use that information to begin crafting your business’ brand message and voice. Your brand’s voice is often determined by your company mission and industry, in addition to your audience. It’s a reflection of how your brand and its customers communicate. For instance, your voice could be service-oriented, informative, friendly, or professional.
Your voice will also help you create your brand message, which is equally important. Your message gives the audience an indication of who you are and an opportunity to connect with them on an emotional level. It should be simple, short, and easy to understand at a glance.
#3. Make Your Employees Your Biggest Brand Ambassadors
With your brand message and voice in place, you need to ensure that your employees are singing the same song. In another 2015 study, researchers found that over 79% of local companies that used some form of the employee advocacy program had better brand visibility. These companies also saw improvements in brand loyalty and brand recognition.
As such, it’s always important to infuse the message and spirit of your brand within the workforce. Define your company’s brand to employees, making sure to correct any wrong brand perceptions. Clearly, define what they stand to benefit from their efforts through an incentive program and ensure they have the right tools to effectively market your brand.
#4. Create Influencers Out Of Your Customers
Your customer base is also your biggest marketing tool. Customers who feel like they are part of your brand are more likely to endorse it among their peers, which can provide a big boost to your brand building and marketing efforts.
For instance, 88% of local customers use reviews to determine the quality of your business. If you can harness this power via online engagement, customer feedback, and reviews, you can create your own band of influencers or brand evangelists.
#5. Ride On Your Competitors’ Backs
A healthy business always strives to differentiate itself from its competitors at all levels, especially when it comes to branding. You should identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and then use these to build a differentiated brand message or voice within your industry.
Find out everything you can about them, including the consistency of their branding message across different channels, the quality of their services or products, and customer reviews and mentions on social platforms. Snooping around will help you differentiate your brand from the competition and convince a potential customer to choose you over them.
#6. Manage Your Branding Budget Efficiently
For small businesses, high startup costs are part of the reason why most don’t make it through their first few years of infancy. Small businesses often start out with tiny budgets. And most of them required a small business funding guide that helps them have a better understanding of the various forms of funding available for business.
As such, mismanaging your branding budget can quickly contribute to the downfall of your local business. Because most costs associated with branding are often covered under a larger marketing budget, you should always try to balance out the cost of branding with other elements of your marketing campaign.
Weigh different options when it comes to creating your logo, tagline, website, and any other component of your branding strategy. You can sometimes save money by going with a creative agency to handle all your branding needs instead of sourcing individual items like business cards and logo design services to separate providers. In other cases, you can find the opposite is true – you just have to figure out how the different pieces will work for your brand.
#7. Stay Consistent
Once the initial stages of your branding efforts begin to bear fruit, it’s always important to remember to keep the fire burning. Branding is an on-going process that never stops throughout the life of your business. Clients should see and feel your brand on your website, in your office, packaging, business cards, and everything else with your company name on it.
Inconsistency is a deal-breaker for even the biggest brands, so always strive to keep your brand’s message and voice the same across different channels to help build your brand into the future.