Building a Brand: Summing It Up

If you’ve been paying attention this past month, you’re getting to know a little bit more about small business branding. As you saw in last week’s infographic, branding begins at the customer’s fundamental choice between your business and the competition, and it ends with the variety of channels used to disseminate your brand.
“But Jack,” you’ll say, “I have a product that rocks. Do I really need to bother with all this branding stuff?” Ideally, your product speaks for itself, but other factors matter too – the customer might care about your company’s reputation regarding reliability, or how he will be perceived by others when carrying your product around town. This, all the other stuff, is where branding comes into play. And yes, my dear amigos, it does matter.
Repeat after us: Your business is never too small to care about branding. Your business is never doing too well to care about branding.
Because branding always comes back to the crucial question of us vs. them, pick a brand voice and brand values that are unique in your industry. Unique means memorable. If you sell ducting, sell ducting like no one in a 20 mile radius sells it.
Here’s a tip: uniqueness usually involves some kind of backstory. It is a proven fact that the human mind perceives things better in story form. For one, every entrepreneur (and everyone in general) has their favorite business startup story. Usually, this story involves winning against all odds, and something crazy, like running a shoe factory from inside the bathroom … of the next door neighbors. So look into your past and try to build the story of how your business came to be. Chances are, there’s more to it than “we saw an opportunity and went for it”, and the customers deserve to know.
To maximize your exposure it’s important to choose the right channels for spreading your brand. For example, businesses in industries that have a strong visual component can benefit from adopting Pinterest, while more conservative businesses can probably get more mileage out of networking on a traditional platform like LinkedIn. Choose what is appropriate but don’t be afraid to do short-term, low-investment experimentation. Who knows, you might be the first mortician to go viral on Pinterest.
When you have a unique brand, deliver it with consistency. That is to say, if you sell insurance and your brand is all about reliability, your website should probably look professional and not crash the visitor’s browser upon landing. And if you’re Mr. Funny Guy (we wouldn’t know anything about that…), don’t mess up your image by getting into a Facebook argument with a fan over politics.
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