Why develop branding strategies for your small business? What is Branding? Business Branding is simply the process of creating positive images and perceptions for your business. You want your business to conjure up positive emotions and thoughts in the minds of your clients. Business Branding is ensuring that customers perceive your business the way you want it to be perceived. Despite common belief branding is much more than your business logo. A logo is one aspect of your business brand but there is much more to it than that. Your business brand is how customers perceive and think about your business. Factors varying from how you answer the phone, to how you treat your customers, to the over all look and feel of your business all contribute to your business brand.
Why Develop a Business Brand?
There are several benefits for branding your business. Developing a brand for your business will help you have a clear vision of how you want your business to be perceived by clients and potential clients. Once you have a clear vision of how you want your business to be perceived you can then build a brand that achieves that vision. Your brand will determine the emotions and thoughts that stir in a client’s mind when they think about your business. Of course you want your brand to create good thoughts and emotions in the minds of clients and potential clients. For this reason creating a well thought out brand can be valuable to your business.
Business Branding Strategies
Step#1 Choose your target market
By conducting market research you can determine which type of buyer will be buying from your business the most; this will be your target market. Focusing on a specific type of customer will help you develop a more effective branding strategy where you can focus on building a brand that appeals to your targeted customer. Many business owners may say “I want to appeal to everyone not just a target market“. You will save much more time, money and energy if you focus on building a brand that appeals to your targeted customer rather than everyone. Just because you are focusing on a target market does not mean your business won’t attract other types of customers as well.
Step#2 Find out the needs and wants of your target market
Use market research to determine the following: What are the needs and wants of your target market for your type of business? Do they have certain expectations or wishes for your type of business? What do they seek to find in your type of business? What appeals to them? It could be cheap prices, quality products or exceptional service. Find out what are their complaints of current businesses like yours (competitors) in your area. You can potentially build your brand around a strength of your business that is a weakness of your competitors.
Step#3 Determine the unique spin of your business
Determine any unique distinguishing characteristics about your business. What sets your business apart from it’s competitors? What memorable attribute does your business have? Keep in mind the unique spin of your business should be an attribute desired or liked by your target market. Your unique business spin should coincide with their needs and wants. For example “A hot dog stand for iguanas” is definitely a unique spin for a business, but your unique spin should be something your customers want. How many iguanas do you know like hot dogs? In step #2 you discovered the needs and wants of your target market through market research. Use that information when determining a unique spin for your business that will attract your target market. This unique spin can be used to form your slogan.
Step #4 Define your Brand
Get down on paper a clear idea of your brand and what it stands for. How do you want customers to view your business? What targeted customer is your brand trying to attract? How is it fulfilling their needs or wants? How is your offering different or better than other competitors?
Step #5 Put your Brand to Work
Communicate your brand to everyone in your business. Make sure everyone is in the same page. Teach employees how you want customers to view your business. Ensure all employees are in compliance with your brand. For example if you want your business to be perceived as a customer friendly business ensure employees maintain a friendly attitude. The experience of buying from your business is much more important than the visual aspect of your brand such as the logo.
Step #6 Develop the Visual Aspect of your Brand
Now for the fun part of building your brand. The visual aspect of your business brand is what your customers see every time they come in contact with your business. Everything from your business logo to the packaging to the employee uniforms all play a role in the visual aspect of your brand. Be sure all the aspects of your business brand are consistent. Everything thing from your name, to your website, to your business card should be part of a consistent theme.
* Naming a business– Your business name is a contributing aspect of your business brand since it will be largely associated with your business.
* Business Color Scheme– Coca Cola is associated with their famous red and white bottle can. Facebook is associated with their blue logo. Your color scheme is a contributing factor to your business brand. Choose a color scheme that will appeal to your target market.
* Business logos– You can decide to create or hire a professional to create a logo that will be associated with your business. A logo is a large factor to the visual aspect of your brand.
* Business slogan– Your business slogan should express to the viewer in a few simple words what your business is about and the unique spin of your business.
* Other visual factors of your brand– Packaging, business cards, letterheads, employee uniforms, business website, advertisements, free give always, and store banner.
Source: starting-a-small business.com. Sept 2009.
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