These days, there’s no doubt that setting up a business is not as hard as it used to be. That’s especially true with so many products and services now available online. That’s not to say it’s easy, it just means that the doors are open for a flood of competitors to enter your market. And that flood represents a challenge to you.
With so many businesses out there doing nearly the exact same thing as yours, how can you rise above the rest to be noticed and appreciated? How can you win out in this kind of competition? One big part of the answer to that question is your branding. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
But what is ‘brand,’ anyway? Well, a lot of high-profile businesspeople have weighed in on the somewhat nebulous definition of brand. But to summarize, we can combine their individual definitions into one broader one that works rather well. Brand is your business’s identity, and how the market feels about that identity. In short, the real question of brand is this: Who are you, and do potential customers like you?” And so, the key to good branding is to build your business around answering these questions in a positive way. Here are 4 tips to help you accomplish the goal of building a solid brand that customers will love.
1. Get to Know Your Customers – What Can You Do for Them?
When you’re crafting your marketing messages, it’s important to cover the basic details of your product and service. That’s the ‘what’ factor which identifies your business. Another factor to consider is your methods and approaches in producing your product or service. That’s important too, but in the long run, it’s probably not central in your customer’s mind. But, what is central?
The central question your customer will have is this: “Why is it important for me?” If you can answer this question effectively, you’ll have a much better chance at beating out the competition. So, study your market, identify how your product or service is important to them, and focus your messages on those points.
2. Back to School – Use the Brand Pyramid Model.
If you were lucky enough to attend business school, you probably touched on the subject of branding. And if that’s the case, you’ve seen the ‘brand pyramid’ model before. While it may have been boring during the lecture, you’ll find that this kind of modeling can help you to build your brand effectively. So, don’t be afraid to go back to the basics and try what’s been proven to work.
If you’re not familiar with the ‘brand pyramid’ model, it works like this. You diagram a triangle and divide it into three sections. At the bottom, or the base of your ‘pyramid,’ you write in the technical details of what you’re offering your customers. This is the ‘what’ of your product or service offerings. Moving up the pyramid to the second section, you should write in the functional benefits of your products and services for the customers. This is central to selling a product or service. This is all about the problem you are solving for the customer. And lastly, at the top section of your pyramid, you’re going to write in the emotional benefits that your customers experience as a result of receiving your product or service. An example might be ‘peace of mind.’ As much as possible, you should try to get those answers directly from the customers, as a guess on your part might miss the mark. How do your existing customers feel because they bought your product or service?
3. Simple Tagline, Simple Message
This point is brief, but it is vitally important. A huge part of effective branding is having a short, memorable phrase that the customer will remember when they think of your business. The reason this is important is because if they remember your tagline, most of your advertising is already done. So, craft a tagline that effectively summarizes what you do, and make it as concise as possible.
The same principle applies to your marketing messages. Keep them simple and short. The public isn’t already excited about products they never heard of before, so you’re not going to hold their attention long enough for a thorough explanation. So, short and simple is the key for marketing, as well.
4. Your Brand Is Your Business, So Stick to It!
Once you have identified your brand and have shared it with your market, it is vital that you stick within the parameters of that identity. That’s because if you stray too far from your stated identity, you can lose the trust of your customers. Remember that your brand is quite literally who you are and how the public feels about you. But it will be very difficult for the public to form a positive opinion of you if they can’t pinpoint exactly who you are. And if you don’t instill a positive image, you and your brand will be forgotten in favor of your competition.
In conclusion, always remember that whatever you sell, marketing will always be about relationships. It will always be about trust. So, building a brand identity that your customers can identify with and trust is vital to a strong business. Build your brand properly, stick to it, and you’ll develop a foundational following that can give significantly improve your business’s chances at success!