Letting Your Brand Evolve: A Guide to Branding Your Small Business
The 21st century is an extremely exciting time to own or start a small business: the internet opens up communication and marketing in ways never before possible. The market is so wide that there is a niche for everything; and, depending on your product or service, production costs can be outstandingly low.
But the 21st century can also be a very intimidating time to own, and especially to start a small business, for all the same reasons. It takes fewer resources now to start a business than it ever has, and as a result, everyone with an entrepreneurial spirit is convinced they can have their own business. With so many businesses out there, competition is fierce and it is easy to be overlooked.
The crucial thing is to have an excellent marketing and branding strategy, to keep your company one step ahead of the competition, and to get the attention of your market. You have to make your company stand out if you want it to be noticed, and your brand is a perfect way to do that.
So, without further ado, here is a short guide to growing your brand and promoting your business:
- Websites can make or break your success. This pretty much goes without saying, but it’s worth saying again, because a lot of business owners think they can get away with putting minimal effort, time, or money into a website and still have a hugely successful business. Do yourself and your business a favor and develop something that is remarkable and impressive. Think of your website as a spokesperson; make it persuasive and compelling.
- Blogs are a great marketing tool, but they shouldn’t be your only one. You should absolutely write a consistent, quality blog and use it to promote your business. Blogs are searchable, and even better, they create a community of readers who can not only interact with others that have not read your blog, but also communicate with you, and develop a personal relationship. However, blogs aren’t robust or active enough to cover all your marketing bases. You should use a strategy that utilizes several different forms of media to grab your market. Twitter, phone calls, give-aways, business fairs, and a hundred other kinds of marketing all represent options you can use along with your blog to get people to believe in your brand.
- Your logo can’t speak for your company. Having a recognizable logo is not the same as having a brand. Don’t get me wrong, a logo is part of a brand, but it’s only part of it. Coca-Cola is a brand, but the success of that brand comes from their ads, their product, their business practices, and a dozen other things, not just the logo. Spend only as much as you need to in order to design a logo you like. Once you have it, stamp it on every marketing tool you use, and you’ll be on your way to success.
- Follow through with your promises. A lot of what determines a company’s brand is how it interacts with its customers, and how it delivers its products. A company that boasts excellent customer service or one-day shipping, should provide the best customer service experience on the planet, and should have packages to customers in less than day. Frequently exceeding expectations will get people to notice and talk about you.
- Let your brand evolve on its own terms. One of the most damaging things you can do is try to manipulate and control your brand. The thing to remember is that your brand isn’t about you; it’s about how your customers perceive you. Big difference. Your audience will decide collectively on your brand-all you can do is put your efforts into giving their perceptions an initial direction. After that, continue fulfilling your promises, and your brand will speak for itself.
Developing a brand won’t happen overnight, but if you allow it to grow out of your relationships with your customers instead of trying to manipulate them into thinking what you want them to, you will have a brand that people respect and covet, and will reap the rewards of their loyalty.