No, I’m not talking about cattle branding. Though, you wouldn’t be that far off. Branding your business, product, or service is not that different. A strong brand allows people to associate your product or service with your business. Your brand is your promise to your clients and the emotional bond you establish with them. The stronger that emotional bond is, the more loyal the customer. And we all want more loyal customers.
How do you create that bond, how do you establish your brand? Your brand is not just one aspect of you company. It’s your company name, your logo, how you’ve positioned yourself in the marketplace, and the personality of you and your company. It’s every piece of paper that comes out of your office, it’s your business card, your customer service policies, and it’s the whole package.
Take a look at Pepsi, Nike, Subway, Nordstrom’s or any other company that has a strong brand. When you hear the phrase “just do it” you think of Nike and when you think of customer service you think of Nordstrom’s. That’s because those companies have branded themselves in such a way as to be known for those characteristics.
You’re probably thinking, “That’s all well and good for a large company with a huge branding and marketing budget. But how do I, a small business owner, brand and market my business on a small budget?” The important thing is not to dwell on all the marketing dollars you don’t have and think of all the avenues you do have open to you. The process is the same whether you have a large budget or not.
That process starts with defining your identity:
- Name. A company’s name means nothing until something is associated with it.
- Logo. What you look like, who you are, what you do. What do you want your clients to think of you?
- Positioning. Ask your customers and target market what they think of you: lowest cost, largest inventory, highest quality, quickest delivery, best service, etc.
- Personality. If your company were a person, how would you want it to appear? Ask: are you friendly/authoritative, fast/thorough, or advanced/traditional, etc.
Once you know what you and your company stand for, it is time to put that identity to work and market. Make sure that everything associated with your company: website, voice mail message, letterhead, business card, how you treat the customers, your 30 second commercial, how you appear at a networking event, anyone working for you, all of it, and I mean all of it reflects that identity.
It’s important not to deviate from that identity. You don’t want your clients to have to guess who you are. A brand that is consistently and constantly put out there will draw your clients closer. Just as branding cattle is a somewhat irreversible process, you want your clients irreversibly stuck on you!