Branding Strategies to Beat the Pros
The truth is, it doesn’t matter how big or small your company is; if you’re in business, you need to think about branding strategies for your business. As a small business owner, you might think branding is something that’s best left to the big companies. The art of marketing is the art of brand building. Here are several ways to boost your branding and ensure that you are actually creating a cohesive and recognizable brand for your small business.
If you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything, and the low-cost producer is the only winner.
1. Figure Out Who You Are
You need to take the time to get really clear on who you are as a company—or, in other words, your brand identity. Asking yourself some deeper questions can help you figure out who you are and who you want to be as a brand. When you are defining your brand identity, try asking yourself questions like:
- What do I want to be known for in the marketplace?
- If I had to describe my company in three words, what would they be?
- What are my company’s core missions and values?
- What kind of difference do I want to make in my industry?
Take some time to define your ideal customer
Who are they? How old are they? What kind of income and education do they have? Are they predominantly one gender? What are they looking for in the companies they do business with? What matters to them? When would they use your product or service? Why would they need it?
When you know who your target market is, you can use it to guide your branding strategies and the end result will be a brand that truly connects with the customers you want to work with most.
2. Define Your Brand Guidelines
Once you’ve defined who you are, who your customers are, what makes you special, and what’s working in your industry, it’s time to start actually designing your brand. Branding is more than just a logo you slap on your website. Your branding is who you are as a company. It’s your values and your mission and the way you treat your customers. It’s the look and feel of your visual assets. This is an important part of branding strategies.
Make sure that every promotional piece, press release, and ad conforms to your branding guidelines. Your brand will stand out and grab customers’ attention as a result.
Here are a few things you will need to create the look and feel of your brand:
- A Brand Style Guide – It is important to figure out the details of your branding strategy, like your brand color palette, fonts, and design do’s and dont’s. A brand style guide is a great way to organize your design details and make sure you, your designer, and anyone else working on your brand is on the same page with your brand’s direction.
- A Logo – Your logo is the face of your company. It is the first thing most of your customers will see when they encounter your brand and it’s the visual asset that will be most closely tied with your business. Your logo should be the first thing you design, as it will act as the jumping off point for all of your other visuals (like your website and your business cards).
- A Business Card – If you’re in business, you need a business card. The design should match your logo and your other design assets.
- A Website – Your website is like your company’s piece of digital real estate. It gives your company credibility and value. When people visit your website, the look and feel should be consistent with the rest of your branding.
Depending on your business, you might need additional branding assets like product packaging or a corporate letterhead. The most important thing to keep in mind is that no matter where a customer encounters your brand—the look, feel, and design should be consistent.
If you’re not consistent when branding your business, you risk confusing your customers. And if they’re confused, you could lose them to the competition.
3. Adding Value With The Right Content
As a small business, you might not have a huge advertising budget. Luckily, there’s a better, easier, and more affordable way to get your name out there and that’s content marketing. It gives you the opportunity to show off your industry expertise; by establishing yourself as a go-to resource and subject matter expert in your field, your audience will come to trust you—and, when it comes time to them to choose a company to do business with, you’ll be the first place they go.
It gives you an opportunity to strengthen your branding. By developing a strong brand voice (and then carrying that brand voice throughout your content) you reinforce who you are and what you’re about to your customers—which strengthens the relationship and helps to drive business.
The key to success with using content as a marketing strategy is to create the right content. Do your research to figure out what kinds of questions your customers are asking—and then create content that answers those questions.
Explore different ways to add value to your business
Example: Let’s say you own a local bakery and after some research, you realize your customers are searching for recipes and guides to make their own bread. You could create a branded blog post or video that outlines the basics of bread making; the science behind bread, the ingredients you’ll need, and how to get the perfect rise and crust. That kind of content provides serious value for your audience so when the time comes that they want to actually go out and buy bread, you’ll be the first place they visit.
There is a ton of information about your industry that your customers want and need to know. And if you can add value and answer their questions through your content, you’ll build trust with those customers and that trust will translate into business.
4. Make Customer Service Your Top Priority
If you want to truly stand out in today’s hyper-competitive market, it’s not enough to talk to the talk, you need to walk the walk too. The reputation you gain and what customers say behind your back is the most important part of your branding.
If you want to succeed in the long term, you need to be a superhero for your customers and make customer service your top priority.
You need to provide a consistently positive experience for your customers no matter how, when, and why they interact with your brand. If your customers have a positive experience every time they interact with your brand, they’re going to keep coming back and they’re going to tell their friends too.
Look for opportunities to improve customer experience within your business. Is it confusing to place an order on your website? Revamp the design to make it more intuitive for your customers. Is it a hassle to make a return? Send customers a prepaid return label and clear instructions to make the process easier and more straightforward. The better you can make your customer experience, the more you’ll be known as a company that cares about its customers and the more customers you’ll get as a result.
Kick Start Your Branding Strategies With Us
ARA Digital Marketing has a team of creative professionals that helps you figure out what your brand’s story is and how to tell it through your visual identity and your products or services.