When you launch a small business, no matter the industry it’s in, it is important to spend a lot of time and energy on marketing. This is the way to stand out from the crowd, garner interest from your ideal customers, generate repeat sales, and gain the attention of journalists and investors.
When it comes to your marketing, there are many important elements but one that you should really concentrate on first is brand. If you’re ready to build your venture through a memorable, remarkable brand this year, read on for some top tips you can follow today.
The first step to take before you even start to develop your actual brand is to do a considerable amount of research. It is imperative that you know exactly who the target audience is for your brand, before you spend time or money on developing it. Ask yourself who it is that you’ll be providing a service to or a product for, and what the key messages are that you want to convey to these people, based on what you know about them.
You need to learn everything you can about your ideal customers, from their motivations, needs, and desires, to their browsing and buying habits, likes and dislikes, lifestyles, work type, and interests. This can be done through online research, business groups, magazines, newsletters, and the like, as well as through more personal interactions such as focus groups, surveys, and interviews.
Having a thorough understanding of who exactly you will be selling to, and what they’re looking for, will help you to ensure that the brand you develop actually resonates with this audience once you launch. It will also help you to find out if there is actually enough of a market for you to be targeting in the first place.
Next, you need to define your brand. This takes time and can’t be rushed. You need to be clear about what it is that you will offer, and how you will go about doing so. Think about:
In addition, it is essential to have a unique selling proposition (USP) for your brand. This is all about knowing what your company does differently to your competition and your industry. How will your brand stand out from the crowd? What is remarkable about your company, what it sells, or its sales process? What is the story behind your brand? The various characteristics and adjectives that you see as making up your brand should be able to differentiate your company in the market.
Another factor that helps with branding is to work out what your firm will stand for (or against) — this helps people to emotionally connect with a brand. After all, when you think about most of the biggest brands in the world, they are well-known as making a stand in some way. Apple, for example, is famous for its “Think Different” logo, while software company 37signals is all about being more usable than other programs and helping people to collaborate. There are many brands which take a stand when it comes to the environment, or animal welfare, as well as things like bringing families together or promoting health and wellness.
Lastly, when it comes to branding tips for small businesses, you also have to look at how to specifically find the right identity for your brand. This encapsulates things such as the name of your venture, the website domain name you use, the logo and tagline you create (and other visual elements), and the overall “voice” of the brand. To develop a consistent and effective brand, you need to make sure all of these elements are in sync.
First up, choose your brand name carefully. The name you choose should reinforce the main objectives or elements of your business, while at the same time avoid any negative connotations that could give people the wrong idea about your venture.
Keep in mind that the name you choose also needs to last for the long term, so should be something that will remain suitable as the business grows. As such, it is generally best to avoid brands that have specific products, locations or people’s names in them. Try to purchase a URL (domain name) for your business that is as close to the brand name as possible too.
When it comes to the visual elements of your brand, such as the logo, tagline, symbols, and website or product design, devote time to finding colors, images, words and statements that truly capture the essence of your brand.
Similarly, the “voice” of your company (which is applied across all types of communications and visuals) should match up. Think about whether you see your brand as being, for example, formal, friendly, relaxed, luxurious, pared bare, fun loving, sexy, or some other vibe. While what you say is important, don’t forget that how you say it — the language and personality used to deliver brand messages — also makes a big difference when it comes to perception and engagement.