Developing a brand for your company can be one of the most exciting, yet challenging, aspects of starting a business. Because branding is the foundation of your business, it is important to invest the proper time and resources to get it right from the start.
When people think of branding, typically logos come to mind. However, a logo is only a piece of a company’s overall brand. Your brand should explain what your company stands for and what differentiates you from the competition. Essentially, branding conveys the overall personality of your company.
Your brand should drive everything from the tone of your sales materials to your training manual. The most successful brands are those that have developed a strong brand message and have implemented it consistently throughout their entire business.
Take Apple for example. They have branded their business as one that makes high-end, innovative products geared towards a hip, tech-savvy consumer. Everything from their product design and product packaging to their store layout reinforces this idea.
Before you invest in creating a logo, website or any other marketing materials, it’s important to determine your brand message. Your brand message explains why customers should choose you.
So, how do you define your brand?
- Determine what problem you solve. When you decided to start a business, you realized that you could fill a need in the marketplace. What is that need or that problem that only you can solve? For example, if you’re a dog-walking service, you solve the “I have a job, three kids and no time to walk my dog” problem. Remember, your business isn’t about you, it’s about filling people’s needs.
- Establish what you stand for. As an entrepreneur, you have the unique ability to determine what is important to you and your business. What do you want your business to stand for? Integrity? Speed? Precision? Think about one or two words or phrases that you want to define your business. Keep it simple. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to communicate effectively and for your customers to identify.
- Identify your ideal customers. Understanding what kind of customer you want to attract and what’s important to them will help you target the right people and develop the proper messaging to attract them. For example, do your customers want luxury or value? Speed or quality? Experience or innovation? You can’t be all things to all people, so make sure your brand speaks to your target audience.
- Decide what makes you different. Part of branding is determining how your business stands apart from the competition. Let’s stick with the dog-walking business example. If your business targets working mothers, you could include other add-on services that would be appealing to this audience. For instance, when you come to walk the dog, you can pick up or drop off the dry cleaning. Or, your service could include bathing the dog once a week. Listen to your audience. Research your competitors. Then, determine what makes your business different.
Answering these questions will help you lay the groundwork for building a strong and successful brand.
What is your brand message? How did you decide on it?