A recognizable brand is one of the most powerful tools that your business has.
Your brand isn’t just your logo or a beautifully designed website. It’s your opportunity to help consumers fall in love with your business, using a unique tone of voice, visual assets, and a mission that people can connect with.
When you’re getting a small business off the ground, it’s your brand, more than your price points or product features, that will help you to stand apart from the competition. That’s why it’s so essential to have the branding basics in place before you begin your new venture.
Here are some key things that you need to know about branding, to get you started.
1. Know Your Audience
Your brand is how you build an emotional connection with your audience. Find out what your customers care about, and you can demonstrate the values that are meaningful to them in your content, your marketing, and your products.
Before you even think about launching your business, take the time to build your buyer personas. These are the guidelines that will help you define your ideal customer.
Your personas may include information about where your customers come from (location), how old they are, what their job role may be, and more. As you develop a deeper understanding of your audience, you’ll be more capable of speaking their language.
2. Know Your Competitors
There are around 472 million entrepreneurs worldwide, and 305 new startups entering the market every year. With so much competition, you need to ensure that you stand out from the crowd.
A little competitor analysis will allow you to see what other brands in your industry are doing, so you can do something different.
Perhaps your competition is missing a particular niche with their branding and marketing that you can target. Maybe your competitors focus their brand around the price, while you can concentrate on showing your customers an excellent experience. Find something that differentiates you from the competition.
3. Know Your Business
Once you understand who your customers are, and what separates you from the competition, it’s time to start defining your brand. This doesn’t just mean identifying which products and services you sell. You also need to ask yourself:
- What are your values? What drives you to continue selling and growing?
- What’s your mission? Which problems do you want to solve for your customers?
- What’s your personality? Are you friendly? Sophisticated? Trustworthy
When defining your brand, avoid superficial and vague statements about how you want to make a profit or achieve a certain amount of revenue.
Think about what will make you memorable as a brand. Perhaps you’re the most trustworthy company in your industry, or you offer the simplest solution to a common problem.
4. Know Your Voice
One of the fundamental things that will make your brand easier to identify when you go to market is your voice.
Your tone of voice shows through in everything from the copy on your website, to the content you produce for your marketing materials. Ask yourself how you’re going to communicate with your audience to convey a certain understanding of your company.
Do you want your clients to see you as playful and friendly? If so, an informal tone of voice with plenty of emojis and colloquialisms is a good idea. On the other hand, if you want a trustworthy and sophisticated tone, it’s best to stay formal.
5. Know Your Look
Although there’s a lot more to a good brand than a memorable logo, compelling brands need to be instantly recognizable. Before you begin building your website or producing your marketing materials, you need to think about the image you’re going to portray to your audience.
What colors are suitable for your brand? Remember that each shade conveys a different emotion, from the boldness of red to the calm professionalism of blue.
You should also think about the kind of fonts and graphics that you’re going to use throughout your online assets. Maybe you’re the kind of business that uses hand-drawn pictures on every page or photos of your own team.
Don’t forget to consider your logo too. That’s the image that most customers are going to use to identify your brand. It needs to convey the unique message of your business instantly.
6. Know Your USP
Once you’ve gotten to the core of your brand and what makes you different, you need to think about what you’re going to be advertising to your customers.
What are the essential qualities and benefits that your brand can offer?
For instance, when Apple started its company, it wasn’t looking to be just another computer brand. Apple wanted to produce something clean and simple that caused people to think differently about the way that they used computers.
Go back to your mission statement and remind yourself of what you want to accomplish with your business (beyond making a profit). Use that to translate your goals into a message that your audience can get behind.
7. Know How To Communicate
Finally, make sure you know how to reach your target audience.
If you’re a small business, then there’s a good chance you won’t have enough budget to spread your marketing solutions across every channel that’s available to you. That’s why it’s important to identify the areas that are going to boost brand awareness and bring in the best revenue.
Take a look at how much money you have, and think about how you can push it into the most lucrative marketing channels for your business.
SaaS startups often benefit the most from blog content, both for growth and for raising awareness of their product. Using their own website, they can build trust, position themselves as thought leaders, and attract visitors.
Perhaps your audience spends a lot of time on social media instead. If that’s the case, try targeting your clients’ favorite social channels and closely measuring the reaction that your customers have to each update.
Don’t be afraid to change your marketing strategy if you discover it’s not working too.
Don’t Underestimate Your Brand
There’s more to building a successful company in today’s digital world than having the right marketing campaign or website.
The best businesses know that they need to create something valuable that their audience can connect with. That means developing a brand that provokes a genuine emotional response in every customer.
Once you’ve found the brand that’s suitable for your business, it’s imperative to be consistent with it. While you can experiment with things like your marketing messages and the channels that you use, your overall image and tone of voice need to remain the same. The more consistent you are, the more familiar people will become with your company.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of the blog series Start Your Business brought to you by the marketing team at UniTel Voice, the virtual phone system priced and designed for startups and small business owners.