Branding is an elusive concept and many businesses tend to confuse it with a logo. David Ogilvy described a brand as “The intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.” If you want to make a strong brand, you need to understand how this process works. Nowadays it’s particularly important for small businesses to establish and develop their brand as that’s the only way to distinguish themselves in a sea of competition. Here are some dos and don’ts that can either make or break your business brand.
You need to identify what makes your brand unique and authentic, and how it’s different from your competitors. This procedure has to start way before your products or services hit the market. Successful business owners conduct market research in order to find out what pain points bother their customers and build products that will provide a solution. This research helps them spot a gap in the market and fill it. When promoting this innovative and one-of-a-kind product, it’s easy to emphasise its benefits and uniqueness and start building your brand around it.
Your customers are your greatest asset. Their opinions are very valuable, so make sure to connect with your target audience and build a long-lasting relationship with them. Leverage social media not only to promote your brand but also to feel the pulse of your audience and find out how they perceive your company. What’s crucial here is to be aware that even negative opinions and complaints can be your secret weapon for building a strong, customer-oriented, responsive brand. Your customers’ observations and suggestions can help you fix issues and improve your products, as well as customer service. Keeping your target audience satisfied is one of the best ways to build a successful brand.
Consistency is among the key characteristics of successful branding. First of all, you need to establish your brand strategy and incorporate your core values into it. Your logo, brand colors, taglines, and the voice you use across social media channels as well as in your promotional materials have to be aligned and consistent. As new companies can easily move away from their course and lose direction, it’s best to implement a set of brand guidelines. If you’re inconsistent, you’ll undermine your brand identity, make it unrecognizable, and confuse your audience.
It’s ok to cut expenses whenever you can and opt for a more affordable solution, but when it comes to brand building the phrase saying that “the best things in life are free” simply doesn’t apply. Many startups are strapped for cash, so they usually resort to crowdsourcing their logo, which may seem like a good idea at first, but apart from quality issues that can arise, there are also copyright restrictions, which means that once you decide to make some changes to your logo, you might not be allowed to. The same goes for building your website, as even some surveys from 2009 have shown that 40% of customers won’t wait for a web page to load for more than 3 seconds, so you can imagine how demanding they are now. That’s why it’s essential to invest in a fast and reliable web hosting service, as a slow website can really ruin your branding efforts.
Many businesses are so focused on reaching their target audience and building customer loyalty that they completely forget that employee loyalty is equally important. Just like you need to keep your customers engaged and satisfied if you want to retain them, you also need to respect and value your employees. The internal brand building is something that the best brands have been practising for quite some time. Remember all the perks of working at Google such as gourmet cafeterias and massage rooms, or Apple with its wellness centre and extended maternity leave?
Naturally, small businesses can’t offer such a luxury, but an occasional discount, day off, or a Christmas bonus will definitely boost employee morale. However, not only material tokens of gratitude count, so make sure to appreciate their accomplishments, provide them with regular feedback, and show them that you care and value their opinions. Your employees are the best ambassadors of your brand and always let them know how important and indispensable they are to your company. Brand building is a complex process, and just wrong move can destroy all your previous efforts and hard work.
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