If you want to build a successful business, there is no getting around the fact that you also need to build a strong brand. Think of the most successful companies on the planet – the likes of Nike, Apple, Starbucks and Coca-Cola – what do they all have in common? Brands that are instantly recognisable and appealing to their target markets right? As soon as you see an Apple product you know it’s an Apple product and that is one of the biggest factors in the company’s success.
Fine, you might be thinking, but I’m a small business and I can’t afford to spend huge amounts of money on product branding – don’t worry. Although it is possible to spend millions of pounds on building your brand, it is far from necessary and there are lots of smaller scale, cheaper things you can do to build a strong brand identity and give your business the best chance of success. Here are just a few of them:
First Define Your Brand
Before you can build a solid brand identity, you must define what your brand is and what you want it to say to your target market. In order to do this, you first need to determine what appeals to your target audience and what kind of things they would like to see you do. Market research. Looking at other brands in your niche and social media can all help you with this.
Once you have a good idea of what your customers want, you need to work out what your own ethos is so that you can blend the two and create a brand identity that you can be proud of and which your customers will find appealing.
Treat Your Brand Like A Person
If you can treat your brand like a person, you will find it a lot easier to define. People have values, believes and aims to achieve, and so should your brand, well it should if you want people to connect with it on a personal level anyway, and you should want that because brands that have a personal connection with their audiences are far more likely to succeed.
Think about what your brand “the person” would do in any given situation and this will help you not only to set out a mission statement for your company but it will even help you to choose the colours of your logo, it’s style and the voice you use to communicate in.
Keep Content Cohesive
The mark of a good brand is cohesive. Every bottle of Coca-Cola has the same distinctive look as does every apple gadget from the iPad to the iPhone – they unmistakable belong to their respective companies and this means that people know what they are getting. You need to do the same with your products, services, business cards, websites and documents. Everything needs to be produced in the same style and have the same feel if you want your brand to look professional. Luckily there are tools like documents technology software and blog templates that can help you with this, but working with the same tech people, content writers, etc., on every project can really help to keep your brand together too. Your brand needs to be instantly recognizable if it is to be successful.
Build Lasting Customer Relationships
Part of what makes a brand so successful is its customers. If your target demographic love your stuff and can be seen wearing it on the street or using it on social media, it will encourage more people like them to do the same. That is why you should always aim to treat your customers extremely well. You can do this by creating loyalty programs, offering special deals to returning customers or by giving things away on social media, for example – just make sure that you do something to keep them onside.
Be Your Own Brand
Where a lot of businesses go wrong when it comes to branding is that they try to emulate other successful brands in their niche instead of doing their own thing. It’s easy to see why they think this may work out, but actually people want brands that are unique. They want to feel part of something cool and interesting – they aren’t interested in copies of copies of copies and anyway, when there is so much competition out there it pays to do things differently and have a new angle to offer.
It’s far better to be bold, innovative and daring and appeal to a small market of loyal customers in what you do than it is to play it safe and as a result, be so blonde that you appeal to no one at all.
Don’t Dilute Your Brand
A lot of brands end up diluting their message by trying to appeal to everyone all the time. For example, high-end brands offer huge discounts to try and bring in more customers only ti alienate their core base who love their exclusivity or brands that appeal to teenagers add in more mature lines to try and grab more business only to become uncool in their core customers’ eyes. Don’t let this happen to you and let your brand stand on its own merits.
Keep Some Mystique
In the past, you’d put your brand on your products, release a mission statement and put it all out there for everyone to see all of the time. These days, you can build a far stronger brand by holding back a little, creating some mystique and generating a buzz around your products. If the customers have to work a little to find out more about you, they’ll probably talk about you more and become more invested as a result, and not only will you sell more, but you’ll probably convert a few ambassadors to your cause which will make for some cheap promotion, too.
Building a brand takes time, effort and dedication, but it can be done and if you take the above steps on your journey, you will surely have more success on your journey.