Believe it or not, branding is about much more than choosing a unique logo or buying a well-placed banner ad. Good branding will increase the value of your company, improve the recognition of your business and create trust with your customers. It can also inspire your employees, and most importantly help generate new customers.
So, where do you start?
1. Know Your Buyer Persona
Who are you targeting? What are the needs, goals and behaviors of your prospective customers? Knowing this information will help you understand how to position your product or service in the marketplace. It will help you determine the media your audience is consuming most.
Are they online shoppers? Are they influenced by social media, or do they do extensive research before buying? This will also help you find out what motivates them to buy and what their main challenges are. Having this information will help you build a compelling and effective brand, since it will help you reach the right people through the right channels.
2. Understand Your Competition
Who else is out there in the marketplace, and how can you differentiate yourself from them? Research your competitors’ websites — what are their customers saying about them? Consider reading customer reviews of the competitors’ products or services through social media and review websites. This can help you understand your competitors’ quality and reputation. What platforms are they using to advertise their product or service (social media, radio, site direct, etc.)? It’s always good to know where you stand among your competition.
3. Develop an Identity and Voice
Once you understand who you’re targeting, your brand can begin to form. You’ll want to develop a tone that you use in all of your content to keep the experience consistent for your audience. Do you want to take a more professional tone, or would you rather stay fun and cheeky? Knowing your buyer’s persona can help with that. For example, if you are a business providing funeral services, you would not want to use an excited or funny tone.
You also want to establish your core values and mission statement, which is where you decide what’s important to your business and how you want your culture to be represented. Is your business family-oriented? Do you value giving back to the community? These types of characteristics help your customers remember you. For example, TOMS donates one pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair purchased. TOMS is widely known for this initiative, making it a big part of their brand.
4. Create a Logo, Tagline, and Website
Many business owners think about what their brand will look like visually, including logos, color palettes, photography, websites, etc. You may not have the means to create these materials yourself, but the good news is that there are many services online that help small businesses create beautiful websites, logos, taglines and more for far less than hiring an advertising agency. There are even companies, such as WordPress or Squarespace, that allow you to easily manage your website and have hundreds of well-designed templates for you to choose from.
5. Deliver Compelling Content
What type of information are you putting out to your current and prospective customers, and what channels are you using? There is so much information out there now, so it’s important that what you deliver to your customers is valuable to them and reaching them on the channels they use. If your business is on social media, make sure you’re using the platforms they visit most.
You will want to deliver content to your audience consistently (which means don’t leave a 2-month gap between posts) and always provide a call-to-action that leads the customer to your website. Blogging is a great way to deliver content in a less promotional format. For example, if you’re selling vacuums, write a blog post about what to look for in a good vacuum. This will help educate the customer and begin to build trust with your brand.
6. Prioritize Customer Service
You could understand your target audience and have a memorable brand, but will it matter if your customer service is poor? Having great customer service could even save you money on marketing and advertising, because word-of-mouth from your customers will create a strong buzz in the marketplace. This is called earned media, which means you didn’t have to pay for it like you would a radio or TV commercial. Customer referrals and word-of-mouth advertising are some of the most powerful forms of recognition your brand can earn.
A brand represents people’s perception of your business’ customer service, reputation, advertising and more. Branding is one of the most significant things you can do for your business, and it can transform you from a small player to a successful competitor. But before you begin your branding process, have you created an LLC? If not, Incfile can help you quickly and easily find the right entity for your business as you start your company. If you’re already established, we can also help manage your company — including filing business taxes and keeping up with licenses — so you can focus on building a brand that matters.
This article was originally published on the Incfile Blog.
Chris Keller is a veteran in business finance industry. Prior to starting his own business, he managed product lines at two Fortune 500 companies focusing on their Profit & Loss statements.