The intangible aspect of business—the who, what, and how—is your brand. A term widely used but often misunderstood and overlooked. A strong brand identity furthers customer recognition, loyalty, and credibility, giving you a competitive edge in the market.
And while developing a brand is essential for sustained business success, it’s important to take the right steps:
Identify Your Ideal Customers
You’ve got an awesome product. Everyone you’ve shared it with loves it. But how does that play out in the market? If you haven’t thought about who you want showing up to your shop regularly, it’s time to take a step back and draft out some ideas. What do they want? What motivates them?
Selling something for the whole family will be positioned differently (or at least should be) than a product targeting single twenty-somethings. By clarifying who your customer is, you’ll better understand how to draw them in.
One surefire way to get lost in the market is to be just another (fill in the blank). If you’re selling burgers, why would someone want to choose your place over another? If you’re selling shirts, what’s so special about them?
Being able to communicate value and/or benefits of your product compared to others in the market will help customers make informed decisions about why they should choose your product over every other one. Combining what you want to communicate with who you want to communicate that value is where your brand identity starts to form.
Develop an Identity to Guide How You Communicate
You’ve got the product, you know who your customers are, you’ve even identified what makes you different, but how do you actually communicate? For some businesses, both small and large, the key to success is thinking of your brand as a person. How would that person communicate? Are they professional or casual? What colors / fonts represent that person?
Apple’s famous “I’m A Mac” ads literally personified the company as cool and laid back. Apple went as far as creating a foil being the, “I’m a PC,” which equates PC as clumsy, antiquated, and dweeby.
By identifying the appropriate style of communication, your brand is more likely to resonate with your target customers and help you stay top of mind when it’s most important.
Once you’ve developed the who, what, and how, it’s important to commit to it. There is a tendency for inexperienced business owners to reinvent themselves long before they’ve allowed for a real identity to take hold.
Once you’ve established your brand, it’s important to give it enough time to resonate with your target customers and build reliability. Ford has been the poster child for reliability, in many ways due to their consistent branding. Championing a historical logo and mission statement has forged a trust between consumer and business.
Branding isn’t simple, but it doesn’t have to be super complex. By taking the time to think about the who, what, and how of your brand, you’ll be better prepared to engage with your target customers and build your business. Failing to create a brand identity, though, will certainly create unnecessary barriers in your business development.
As you build a customer base, leveraging Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can help you learn a lot about who your real customer is. If it’s different that you initially imagined, then it might be time to jump into a rebrand.