If you’re like most small businesses out there, you’re worried about how to distinguish yourself from the competition, let alone how to double your profits. You can achieve both goals with one strategy: great branding. While a beautifully rendered logo is a big part of branding, a great branding strategy can increase your company’s value, making it easier to get customers and giving your employees the motivation to achieve your mission and vision.
What is great branding?
Your brand is a lot of things: how customers perceive your company, your logo and advertising, a catchy tagline, how you deliver customer service, and your reputation. When these areas flow together seamlessly, with each supporting the others, your company will be healthy. But let one area slip, and it damages your entire brand.
Great branding tells your customers what they can expect from your company. What is your unique selling proposition? Are you the lowest priced or are you the best quality? Are you a new-to-market innovator and disrupter, or do you have a long track record of exceeding customers’ expectations? You can’t be everything to everyone, so you need to make certain you know who you are and what you want to be before you turn your attention to devising your brand strategy.
Most importantly, a strong brand identity is a top asset for your small business. It’s what will hep you double your profits.
There are several ways branding can grow your business. Here are the top 5
#1. Focus your efforts.
When you build a brand strategy, you develop a more narrow focus on your core strengths and your company’s mission. This helps you identify the strategies necessary to achieve your strategic goals.
#2. Differentiate your company.
Because a really great brand strategy laser-focuses your efforts, you learn quickly what sets you apart from the competition. You learn what you do differently, how to lean on your key strengths, and how best to serve your customers.
#3. Build customer-centric messages.
Without a great brand strategy, your marketing messages may be all over the place. The easiest way to build a loyal following is to build a great brand message that focuses on your customers’ needs and wants and sets your product or service up as the solution.
#4. Consistently attract customers.
A great branding strategy combines your logo, website, marketing materials, advertising, and even how your customer service representatives talk to customers into a single consistent message. You want that message to convey you’re a market leader.
#5. Save time and money.
When you nail a great brand strategy, you spend less time educating potential customers about who you are and what you’re best at and more time helping them solve their problems. And when you can solve your customers’ problems, you’ve created brand advocates.
Great branding lets you control your pricing
Think about all the iconic brands out there — Nike, L.L. Bean, Apple, Amazon, and many more — that heavily control their pricing. They set the bar, and their brand strategy elevates their products in consumers’ minds. When you’re unique and desirable in your positioning, you can control your product’s price. Consider the crowds that will stand in line for hours for the launch of a new iPhone.
Do you have a favorite brand of toilet paper, breakfast cereal, running shoes, etc., that you’ll buy even if it’s not on sale? If so, you’re a brand advocate. You want that same experience for your company’s customers. Your brand strategy sets the tone for what makes your product unique and desirable, and your marketing, sales, and customer service back up your promises.
Consider companies on the stock exchange that are valued at several times their assets. They all have excellent brand strategies. You can consider your brand strategy an investment in your company’s future, and the better you do it, the better your ROI.
How to develop your brand strategy
First, get a solid picture of who you are as a company, what your mission is, and for what you want to be known. This takes some soul searching and the collaboration of your top employees.
Sit down as a team and define your company’s mission and the benefits you offer customers. Then answer the following questions:
- What do your prospects and customers think of your company right now?
- What do you want them to think in the future?
If you don’t know the answer to the first question, do some research and find out what people actually think. Guessing at this point won’t help you develop a great brand strategy. You need to know specifics.
After you have a solid picture of who and what you are as a company, follow these tips to build an excellent brand strategy that will get your company noticed.
#1. Have a high quality logo developed.
This can sometimes be restrictive financially for small businesses, but there are excellent alternatives out there to hiring an expensive designer.
#2. Create a memorable tagline.
This is a few, short words that sum up your company’s benefits to customers and prospects or what you want to be known for. Think of Nike: Just do it.
#3. Document your messaging.
Every employee should know the key messages that customers and prospects should hear with every touch point. This includes your brand’s “voice.” Are you a casual, conversational brand that speaks in friendly ways, or are you a more of a luxury brand with a formal tone?
#4. Develop your marketing collateral.
If you use print advertising or have packaging for your products, the color schemes, look, and feel of every item must be the same. Place your logo in the same spot on each piece of marketing collateral so that everything paints the same picture: your brand is solid and trustworthy.
#5. Extend your branding to every aspect of your business.
Make sure how employees answer the phone is consistent with your brand’s message. You want your sales people to dress a certain way that represents your brand perfectly, and you should incorporate your logo and colors into your email signatures. Every touch with a prospect or customer should incorporate your brand.
#6. Consistently deliver on your promises to customers.
The best branding strategy is backed up by consistently meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations. If you don’t consistently deliver on your promises, your brand strategy will fail.
Branding is about finding out what makes your company stand out from the crowd and playing to those strengths in everything you do. When each touch point along the customer experience includes strong brand messages, you’ll generate a buzz that is the most profitable marketing source available: word of mouth.
Today’s profitable companies, small or large, rank in the top of their industries for one reason—they’ve built a strong brand.
Let us know in the comments below your best branding tips. It’s always great to hear how others are successfully employing brand strategies that positively affect the bottom line.