With the average person being exposed to thousands of advertisements everyday through social media posts, Facebook ads, Google Adwords, TV commercials, billboards, signs, flyers, and product placement, many of which are subconsciously ignored by the viewer, a strong brand is more important for your business now more than ever before. Not only is a well-developed company brand more likely to get products and services noticed, it helps build trust and loyalty amongst customers, it helps attract new customers, it boosts company recognition, and it can even increase employee morale.
Brands aren't just for major corporations like Apple, Coca-Cola, Disney, or McDonalds. They’re great for small businesses, sole proprietors, and other website owners to have too. Whether your brand is well-established, a little murky, or not given much thought at all, just about every business owner could stand to make some improvements. After all, a brand is not something that’s ever “finished.” Like a community culture, it’s evolving everyday. It should always be defining where your business fits amongst your customers, your community, and society as a whole.
It should be continuously monitored to preserve its reputation and overall message. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to help you build your company’s strongest brand yet.
What Makes Your Company Different?
If you haven’t done much to craft your business brand so far, now having to define it can be a bit intimidating. A brand is like your company’s personality, so how do you pick that out of thin air? Luckily, you don’t have to. A great place to start is to ask yourself what sets your business apart from others in your sector. Are you the cheapest option? The fastest option? The highest quality option? Do you work with a very specific type of client or serve a very specific industry? Are you a family-owned business? A female-owned business? A minority-owned business? Are you the oldest business in your community? How about the largest? Do you provide a certain product or use a certain technique that’s unique only to your company? Don’t get caught up trying to be all things to all people. Not only will you be unable to please everybody, your brand will suffer because of it. Instead, identify exactly who you are and focus on marketing to people who are interested in that. Which brings us to the next question you should ask yourself.
Who Is Your Target Audience?
Once you have a thorough understanding of exactly what your company is offering and what sets it apart, you can start to think about the types of people who want what you have to give. Again, don’t fall into the trap of thinking everyone, everywhere is your demographic. The person who wants the cheapest product is not the same person who wants the highest quality product. Knowing who “your people” are may be the most important aspect of brand development. This will dictate everything from the language you use on your website, to the style of your logo, to the people you hire, to the way you advertise. Knowing the type of customer your business attracts will help you attract more of the same customers.
What Are You Promising Your Customers?
Armed with the knowledge of your company’s unique attributes and its prime demographic, you have a great start to developing your business brand. Now you can ask yourself what your customers can consistently expect from your business. This is about more than great customer service, free shipping, innovative products, or the lowest prices guaranteed. It’s about what your company values.
When your customers read your blog, can they expect the latest information, a detailed analysis, or a good laugh? When they receive your product in the mail, can they expect a plain and simple box, a pile of coupons, or a personalized note? Deciding what your company values and then consistently living by the rules you’ve set for your business will not only help strengthen your brand, it will help guide you in your decisions further down the line, including things like what fundraisers you should support and what companies you should partner with.
How Do I Want Customers To Describe My Business?
Along with determining what promises, big and small, you’ll be making to your customers, it may also help to think about how you’d like your customers to describe your business. One way to do this is by making a list of five words yourself that you see best capture your company’s identity and the products and services it has to offer. Is your business traditional, innovative, or a little bit of both? Is it professional or casual? How do you make your customers feel when they agree to your services or shop your store? Smart? Sophisticated? Wealthy? Healthy? Pampered? Included?
Once you have your five words, make it a goal to live up to them with every single thing that you do. Every blog article you write, every social media update you post, every interaction you have with a customer, and every person you make a part of your company’s team should be a reflection of these five words. All of these little actions add up to solidify your brand.
If Your Company Had A Spokesperson, Who Would It Be?
Your website copy, your newsletter, your tweets, your forum responses, your internal emails, and anything else that’s written on behalf of your business should be dripping with your brand. To help identify what your brand’s voice sounds like and to keep it consistent, it might help to imagine another business person, a celebrity, or just someone you know as the spokesperson for your company. What kind of tone does that person use? What is their vocabulary like? Do they like to tell a story or do they get straight to the point? Does this person stick with business or do they slip in a few jokes? These smaller questions can help you narrow in on a clear voice.
What Are Your Brand’s Physical Characteristics?
You know what your brand stands for. You know how to make it sound the part. Now you have to make it look the part by focusing on its physical attributes. Your logo, your website color palate, even the font you use should not be left to chance, as these too need to match the brand you’ve worked to create. Keep in mind your target audience. Keep in mind your five words. Keep in mind the spokesperson you chose to relay your company’s message.
Now think about how all this is represented on paper or across a computer screen. Think about colors and style. Does it look friendly? Does it look entertaining? Does it look state-of-the-art? Is your brand bright and colorful or is it more subtle? All of these little decisions will be intertwined to manifest your brand as something that can be seen, heard, and felt by your customers.