Small businesses need to devote a lot of time and energy to creating and reinforcing their branding strategies; perhaps more than the ‘big brands’ out there, whose only job is maintenance. This is the age of the small business – in fact; many corporate brands are re-engineering their style to resemble smaller brands in order to appeal to consumers who prefer to promote the up-and-coming brands.
As a small business owner/entrepreneur, you probably know that branding is vital for business success, but do you really know why? There is a direct link between marketing success and strong branding, but until you fully understand exactly where this is, the best you can do is try to copy what’s been done before by successful brands.
Strong and successful branding extends beyond just having a nice logo and improving brand awareness and external perception. Strong branding must permeate every aspect of the business, so much so that the word ‘business’ can be seamlessly substituted for ‘brand’.
What is branding?
Branding is the vehicle through which you define the business not only to external parties, but also to your team and even yourself. It defines the ‘identity’ of the business and is an embodiment of the values, objectives and core competencies of the business.
However, this is different from advertising. Today’s customer can tell when a business is just glossing over or trying to charm their way into higher sales revenues. Branding must be the real deal; reaching out to customers in much the same way a young man trying to woo a lady might do – honest, but impressive.
Having a strategic brand definition will help your potential clients to connect with your brand on an emotive level, since they share the same beliefs and values espoused by your brand. This in turn increases sales, improves loyalty, memorability and advocacy and improves brand differentiation. It can also help you protect your pricing should competitors resort to discount offers to drive sales.
Creating a successful branding strategy
- Brand definition
Review products/services offered by the business and identify the niche you serve within the market. Conduct research on the rational and emotive needs of that niche and how your brand character can help you connect with consumers in a distinct way.
Imagine the brand you’re building as a person with values, beliefs, purposes and a unique character/personality. This directs behavior, presentation and communication. For human beings, this comes intuitively, but for a brand, all these aspects must be carefully engineered to provide an accurate picture.
- Business drivers
You should have this by now, but if not, consider the values and beliefs of your brand, the core objectives for which it exists and who you consider to be your brand heroes. This will establish a brand positioning platform and drive character and identity for improved brand communication.
Finally, aim to create a long-term relationship with consumers. This means that you cannot raise expectations beyond what you can offer or embellish your real picture that results in broken promises and broken trust, things you cannot afford when building a brand. Create an honest brand by speaking with a consistent tone of voice and acting consistently with the message you transmit. This will reinforce who you are in the minds of consumers.
Bio: Lalit Sharma is an SEO consultant who runs a SEO house called Ranking By SEO. He is specialized inlink building and other SEO related activities. You can also find him on Twitter, Google+ and his personal site.