Starting your own business is hard as it is but the question of establishing a brand is so intimidating that a lot of people prefer to just buy a franchise instead of having to deal with it. However, even though it’s far from easy, this doesn’t make it impossible. The main mistake that a lot of people make when building a brand is – misunderstanding the very concept of the brand. A brand is an idea in the heads of your target audience and in order to create an idea, you need to make a calculated, step-by-step approach. Nothing is spontaneous, random or luck-based. Here are nine tips that will help you make it so.
1. Brand markings
Basic brand markings are your brand name, logo, corporate colors, products and so on. The thing about these brand markings lies in the fact that you need to approach them from all sides. A brand name is not just a word or a phrase that you submit while registering a company. It’s a name displayed on the uniforms of your employees. It is also a potential URL or a keyword for your subsequent marketing campaign. The color palette of your business is not just a color or two that you pick on random. It’s also something that will be incorporated in the design of your products or their packages.
One more thing worth taking into consideration is the fact that a logo and a brand name may find themselves on all sorts of scenarios and on all sorts of backgrounds. Therefore, try looking at a bigger picture and make an attempt to spot potential problems or opportunities. The list of bad logo ideas and unintentionally inappropriate domain names are quite impressive in both volume and variety.
2. Write a slogan that shows who you are
When it comes to making customers, it’s important to understand the two major steps that you will have to go through – brand recognition and brand awareness. Brand recognition is merely a situation in which a person is shown your logo or hears your brand name and they… well, recognize it. Brand awareness, on the other hand, is a situation in which they actually know a thing or two about your company. We’re talking about them understanding your corporate values, knowing the quality of your product/services and understanding your principles.
Normally, brand awareness is built over the course of years but what if there was a shortcut to it? What if you had a way to describe the very essence of your business (and you in the business world) with a single sentence. The very essence of this concept can be seen through a brilliant Avis campaign, where they (as the second-biggest name in the industry) decided to use this runner-up position as their greatest strength. Their slogan was simple – We Try Harder!
3. Old-school networking
Another thing you shouldn’t neglect is the idea of leaving a great impression on people in-person. A personal thank-you to business partners and loyal customers is always worth it. After all, 20 percent of your return customers make up for about 80 percent of all your sales. This means that an investment in retaining them is always an idea that results in a positive ROI. You can send them a hand-written thank-you note, take them to dinner or even get them something a tad more unique like a bottle of high-end slivovitz plum brandy. It’s not the value of the gift, it’s the thought that counts.
The word gets around and one satisfied customer might soon become a loyal and vocal brand ambassador. Nonetheless, customers are not the only ones capable of spreading the word. How you treat your employees is going to come out at one point. When that happens it may go to your favor or it may not. It’s up to you.
4. Apply storytelling methods
In order to identify with you, people need to hear your story. This is why there are several storytelling methods that you need to hear of before you go writing your “About Us” page. First of all, it’s not really about you – it’s about the customer. When choosing the protagonist of the story, you need to portray an average customer. In this story, your business is a mere agent that they’re using for the resolution of their problem. It is in human nature to be interested in what you can do for them, far more than what they can do for you. Why not use this notion to your own benefit?
5. Prepare for the long run
Knowing where you want to be in 5 or 10 years is a great starting point for someone who’s going the distance. It can ensure that you don’t take steps in the wrong direction that you will later regret. For instance, starting out as a local business is a great idea for those who see this as their end goal. A strong local business is a force to be reckoned with. However, for those who dream of expansion to other regions or even have aspirations of becoming an international business (at one point), this might not be such a simple thing.
In order to gain some local favors, a lot of businesses use the name of their hometown in their business name, keywords and URL. Once they decide to expand, this makes them forced to either rename their business or go for a different name for some of their branches. Truth be told, the latter is most commonly a trademark issue. This is probably something that you want to pay attention to early on.
At the end of the day, your job of branding is never truly over. The key ingredient in making a lasting impression on your team lies in consistency. This means that all of the above-listed needs to be used and applied on a regular basis. Apart from this, brands evolve and in order to remain competitive you’ll have to find new ways of keeping up.