We all know that branding is essential to our business, but many business owners don’t understand why. People often associate the word “brand” with a recognizable logo or a catchy slogan, but a company’s brand reaches well beyond that. A brand encompasses the entire culture of a business and reflects how that business is viewed in the mind of the consumer.
1) Define your brand –Branding is all about the impression you make, so it’s important to understand your audience. The goal of your brand is to set you apart from everyone else and convey a positive impression. What is it that makes your business special? Identifying things you do well can also help you discover areas to improve.
2) Consistency is key – Think of your brand as a person. Everyone has a unique personality that is a culmination of thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, appearance and actions. People work hard to build and protect their reputations, and businesses must do the same. Customers want to do business with people they trust. Extreme deviations in behavior can quickly damage trust and irreparably harm relationships. It doesn’t take long for a brand to develop a negative image if quality and service isn’t consistent.
3) Be original – You might not have been the first, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow anyone’s lead. Even the most venerable brands are constantly looking for new ways to strengthen their image and reach new customers. Even if you aren’t the biggest player in the game, you can still find ways to stand out from the crowd by forming your own distinct identity.
4) Focus on relationships – Establishing a solid brand takes loyalty and trust from everyone involved with all aspects of your business. Focusing on customer loyalty is important, but it’s also imperative to build and maintain solid relationships with suppliers, neighbors, business associates, and employees. A bad reputation in the community can be hard to overcome – even with excellent customer service and quality products.
5) Don’t ignore it – One mistake that many small business owners make is thinking that branding is only important to large corporations. But when you think of brands as reputations, then it’s easy to see that brands exist for every business – big or small. It’s up to you to take control of the impression you give to consumers. A strong reputation must be earned and maintained.