Stand out with a personal brand strategy.
Small business entrepreneurs often agonize whether it is important to have a brand identity for the company, but the truth is that all companies have a brand. If the company name exists in any form online or in “the real world,” if it has any interaction with customers or potential customers, then the company has a brand. The question is whether it is an intentional one backed by a vetted brand strategy, or haphazard.
The term branding can be nebulous to those who don’t operate in the marketing space, but it is quite simple beyond the jargon. The brand is the factor that, in your customer’s mind, sets your business apart from all of your competitors. Several components form a brand identity, including the logo, slogan, and “voice.” Together, they form a brand, but independently these items are just disjointed elements that don’t accomplish anything individually.
How does your small business stand out?
Large name brands will always be more recognizable and that dissuades many small business owners. Many entrepreneurs mistakenly believe that business branding is for large players like Coca Cola or H&R Block. The truth is that with the advent of ecommerce the competition pool has become much larger and now includes businesses of all sizes competing in the same market. Competitors are also now all over the world instead of only in your neighborhood. Customers can outsource their business with just a click. How does your small business stand out in the crowd? How do customers identify your company?
So now we know that your business already has a brand by default because it is a business operating in the world. We also know that it is in the marketplace with your competitors, large and small, near and far. But what is the brand doing?
Entrepreneurs are excellent researchers and planners, constantly fleshing out budgets and price points, tracking revenue and business development opportunities. No decision is made without checking and double-checking the numbers. Yet, when it comes to business branding, many ignore as if it is not an active factor in the business, or their brand marketing turns into a Hail Mary, which doesn’t accomplish much either.
In addition to being ineffective, lacking a cohesive and well thought-out brand strategy is expensive. In fact, it’s more expensive than investing in marketing and branding to begin with. Without a brand strategy, any marketing expense could be wasted money, not counting lost business due to a lack of solid branding. There’s an old marketing adage that you may doubt that good marketing brings in customers, but it’s sure that bad marketing drives them away.
What an effective brand strategy will do for you.
An effective brand strategy positions your company in the market in a careful and thought-out manner. A consistent look, feel, and sound makes your small business look organized and reliable. The opposite presence can and often does drive business away. Appearance matters; otherwise we would wear sweatpants to job interviews.
Creating a brand strategy may seem daunting, but it can be made a lot easier with the right professional help, and it’s important to remember that nothing is set in stone. This means that you can and should take small steps and test as you go, evaluating the results and tweaking accordingly. Remember that your business already has a brand and is making a statement in the world, now you have to decide what message you’re sending out there.