This article was contributed by Nico Braille.
Let’s face it, starting a new business is never the easiest of things, and more so if you’re in a competitive niche or industry. The late nights, huge financial demands, and all the sacrifices that go into it can feel overwhelming but is in most cases worth it in the end. A key part of the process is branding.
Essentially, branding is a marketing practice in which a business creates unique elements like its voice, symbols, web design, and name to help customers identify and recognize it any time they encounter it. As you can imagine, a lot of creativity and patience are needed to create a brand identity that etches in the minds of your customers.
In this detailed post, we show you 13 simple but effective tips and steps you can follow to create a powerful brand that helps your business stand out from the crowds and ultimately bring you more customers.
You can never please everyone. Don’t try it.
Can you imagine trying to meet the needs of each of the 7 billion people in the universe today? Is that possible even if you had all the necessary resources at your disposal?
Start small by targeting an audience that’s passionate about what you offer or produce. Strive to make a name within a small crowd instead of trying to be loved by everyone in the market. Sometimes it pays more to be a big fish in a pond than being a small fish in an ocean.
For the best results, take your time to identify your ideal market segment – this includes understanding its unique needs and preferences, buying power, location, gender, social status, etc. With this information, create super-targeted products and implement marketing strategies that are sure to appeal to this group of people.
This is why the best business people and consultants dress to kill while others spend thousands on top-of-the-range cars to impress new partners or financiers especially during those all-important first meetings. The impression you set for yourself to others plays a big role in how they perceive you.
Want to attract big clients? You’ll need to project an image of being big yourself. Most of these high-end clients want to be sure they are dealing with a reputable and reliable person or company, and image is what they look at first.
A caveat though – don’t go so over the top that you end up being dishonest with your branding. Start by envisioning the future of your business – where you’d like to be in the future – and project your image based on that. This way, you’ll be able to attract the right prospects who will then thrust you to those heights.
Blog about your business
One of the most effective ways to promote your brand is to blog about your business. By sharing your industry knowledge and providing valuable content that your audience loves, you’ll establish yourself as an authority and build great relationships with readers.
For the best results, try publishing evergreen and engaging content to keep readers wanting to learn more from you. While at it, be sure to mix different types of content formats like texts, images, videos, podcasts, and infographics. Most importantly, take care of all factors that affect user experience including navigation, visuals, and site load speed.
Fast loading speed is in particular incredibly vital and something you cannot afford to take for granted. Getting a good web host like the ones recommended here should be the first step to having a fast site. Mango Matter Media also did a review between GoDaddy and A2Hosting here.
Leverage the power of social media
Gone are the days when the only ways businesses could interact with their audience directly was through paid media coverage, emails, and phone calls. All these methods shared something in common – they were either too expensive or cumbersome to offer results. A lot has changed over the past decade or so especially with the inception and the growing popularity of social media.
Today, platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter offer even the smallest of brands incredible opportunities to connect with their audiences and sell their products to them. All you need is to sign up for free accounts on platforms that best suit your target industry, automate as many processes as you can, publish useful content always, and where necessary, use influencers to speed up your growth rate. You can even choose to use paid ads to get the word out there quicker and to a highly-targeted audience.
Consistency is key in branding
As we mentioned earlier, branding entails the deliberate actions you take to remain memorable in the minds of your audience. It is what users see, read, or hear about your business and instantly think or visualize it. For this reason, it’s crucial that your branding is consistent to avoid causing any kind of confusion among your customers.
By consistent, we mean using the same tone in your content, promoting the same message throughout, and sticking to the same values and quality. What’s more, strive to deliver consistently on all your promises to customers to foster that all-important belief in your business.
You’re allowed to rebrand, but don’t do everything overnight
Let’s admit it, we are human beings and this means, every once in a while, we yearn for changes in our lives including wanting to try out new things depending on the changing tastes and preferences. It is no different in branding.
From time to time, you may need to tweak some parts of your existing brand, usually to reflect any new changes in your products or services. If this happens, it can be tempting to do a complete overhaul of your strategy but this is likely to impact your business negatively. The reason is that you’ll probably upset your customers and drive them away especially if the changes are quite radical.
To avoid such situations, consider updating your branding gradually, and where needed, inform and consult your loyal customers regarding the upcoming changes. This helps you retain most of them while opening doors to new markets.
Your audiences are not only interested in what you offer but also you as the real person behind it. This is why the reputation of big names like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs grew and have continued to grow nearly in the same measure as the companies they lead. The same people that search and use their respective products also take an interest to know who runs them.
Always seek to show your customers that your business has a human side – that there’s someone who cares about their needs and is doing everything possible to create useful products for them. Meet and interact with them on social media, respond to their emails, and send them good wishes on special days. All these, while appearing small and not-so-important deeds, will go a long way in building great relationships that enable your brand to stand out in its market.
Invest in simple but memorable designs
Which color pallets define your brand or website? Is your logo unique and easy to remember? Having memorable design elements will go a long way in boosting your brand identity.
Take an example of Apple – any encounter with an image of its famous bitten apple quickly reminds you of the brand and its highly-rated smartphones and other products. The same case applies to many other world-renowned brands like Coca-Cola, KFC, Mercedes Benz, and Adidas. They keep everything about their branding simple so it becomes easier for customers to remember them.
The idea is to avoid overcomplicating your brand. Help users remember your business by using a compelling logo, well-balanced color combinations and shades, and high-quality images.
It’s never too early to start branding
A lot of new business owners fail to prioritize their branding process, only starting work on it way later when their businesses are already established. Don’t make this mistake – as soon as you’ve chosen the direction you want to take for your company, create and begin implementing your branding strategy right there.
Remember, you’re oozing energy and passion at this moment and there couldn’t have been a better time to get creative with your branding work. And no, don’t worry about not having a clear path or definite idea about the products and services you’re creating when starting out. A brand is not defined entirely by that but is rather a combination of your set mission, vision, values, and business goals.
Associate with other big brands
There’s power in association and learning how to leverage it is one of the quickest ways to catapult your brand even if no one knows you. The connections you create with other brands, whether inside or outside your industry, determines how strong or weak yours grow.
For example, can you imagine your newly founded company getting a mention on big websites like Forbes and the New York Times? How much publicity and reputation can you get from this? However, you don’t need to start this high. Start with your existing circle – college mates, friends, family, and colleagues.
Can you use their connections – through their social media accounts or blogs – to reach more people? Remember, any mention or recommendation from these people exposes you to others who trust the messengers. This way, selling your brand to this group of people becomes easier as those you directly have a relationship with have already paved way for you.
Get creative with your brand awareness campaigns
Let’s admit it, for a business to thrive in the super-competitive environment of today, it has to do something more than the ordinary in addition to offering excellent products that solve users’ problems. And when it comes to branding, incorporating a few outside-of-the-box ideas into your strategy will help to fast-track your results.
A few proven ideas you can consider include here:
- Running a hyped contest on social media
- Designing and distributing infographics
- Running a podcast
- Setting up a referral or affiliate program
- Using paid ads and remarketing campaigns
Have a clear brand positioning statement
A brand positioning statement is the phrase your brand uses to differentiate itself from its competitors. Usually, this statement touches on the brand’s unique offerings, its target audience, and the benefits or value users derive when they choose your products.
For most companies, crafting a clear brand statement that speaks directly to the target audience can be a major challenge. But it doesn’t have to be this way particularly if you understand your brand properly and have a clear idea of the direction your company should take.
Say you run a web design company and want to position yourself in a highly saturated local market. You can choose to go with the following brand positioning statement:
MyWebCompany is an all-in-one web design solutions company that helps freelance writers in Miami showcase their skills and sell their services using responsive portfolio websites.
In this example, MyWebCompany has a clear target market (freelance writers in Miami), the product (websites), and the value proposition (responsive sites that help writers showcase their skills and selling writing services).
Conduct regular audits to keep your brand fresh
So you now have a memorable brand that customers can associate with your business. What next?
For starters, it’s important to note that branding is a continuous process. It is for this reason that even the best companies are constantly evolving in an attempt to re-align their branding strategies with the changing market trends and preferences.
A brand audit helps you identify the different areas or elements of your business that are no longer positively impacting the perceptions of your customers towards your brand. This could include an advertising campaign that puts your company in not-so-good light, a bad review sponsored by a competitor that’s affecting you, a site that has become slow due to a spike in traffic or additional content, etc.
By identifying these issues, you’re able to stop your brand image from deteriorating and your business losing customers.
Building and maintaining a powerful brand identity is never going to be an easy task. Luckily, you now have a set of solid strategies that, if combined with a bit of creativity, should easily boost your company profile.
Have a branding tip or strategy that has worked well for your business? Share with us in the comments below.