You’re about to become your own boss by starting your own small business. Congratulations! Now, you’ll become part of the 99.9% of businesses in the United States – the small business sector.
That’s right. Almost all U.S. businesses – 30.2 million, to be exact – are small businesses.
Okay, fine. Not all are your direct competitors. But that still means you’ve got loads of competition to deal with.
Say you’re about to become a restaurateur. That means you have over 1 million other locations to compete with.
So, how can you even begin to compete? Well, with your getting your branding 101 facts straight!
If this question popped into mind, it only means you’re not 100% ready to launch your business yet. But don’t worry! That’s where we come in.
We’ll help you figure out the best way to establish your business’ visual identity – your brand. So, be sure to keep reading!
Branding 101: What’s in a Brand?
A brand is anything that identifies a business and sets it apart from the rest. By anything, we mean name, symbol, term, or slogan. In essence, it’s a feature that differentiates you from all other business.
Having a brand makes it easy for consumers to know who you are, what you offer, and what makes you different.
Take Nike for instance. When people see that Swoosh, they’ll know right away it’s Nike even without seeing the brand name. When they hear the phrase “Just Do It”, they straightaway associate it with the footwear maker.
There’s also Adidas. Almost everyone can recognize those three stripes, even from afar. Upon hearing the words “Impossible is Nothing”, consumers know it’s the shoemaker’s tagline.
Both specialize in manufacturing footwear and sports-related apparel, even sports equipment. But thanks to their powerful branding strategies, people can distinguish between the two. It’s also for these strategies they’ve become multi-billion-dollar companies.
For reference, Forbes lists Nike’s brand value at $32 billion. Adidas is at $9.5 billion.
Even if your goal isn’t to become a global company, you should still take a page from their marketing books. Your products or services may be similar to your competitors, but your brand will make you unique. It’s the feature of your business that will make it a household name and make it easy to recognize.
In simpler terms, your brand is the core of how consumers will perceive your business and its offerings. It’s how you can set your business apart from the competition. It also paints a picture of what your organization stands for (more on this below).
Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s look at how you can define your business with a killer brand.
1. Consider Everything There Is to Love About Your Business
First things first. Branding your business means considering all its defining characteristics. Like its purpose and the consumer needs or demands it can satisfy.
Start with the features you love about your business. Follow this up with the things you think customers will love about it.
Not sure of what they are?
Then think about IKEA’s vision for a minute. According to the brand, its vision is to “create a better everyday life.” They try to do so by setting two goals.
One is to deliver functional and quality home furnishing products. The second is to offer these at “prices so low” that almost every budget range can afford them.
So, no, IKEA isn’t in the market for the sole purpose of selling furniture. Nor is it only to make as many profits as possible. Their vision is to provide customers with value exceeding every point of sale.
Use this as an example when figuring out your business’ unique characteristics.
For instance, your restaurant sources its ingredients only from local farmers. This ensures your dishes make use of only fresh components. At the same time, it also helps the local farming industry and community.
It’s pretty much like hitting two birds with one stone. One bird symbolizes your goal of delivering only quality products to your customers. The other is how your business commits to social responsibility.
Just so you know, a third of consumers nowadays choose socially-responsible brands. Keep that in mind as you list your business’ best features down.
2. Factor in Your Target Audience
Let’s say the main reason you want to start a business is to become your own boss. After all, 67% of U.S. entrepreneurs are likely to cite this as their top reason. 62% of millennials who want to start a business also like the idea of self-employment.
Whatever your reason is, your business’ success still depends on having customers. If you don’t get clients, then there’s no one to sell your products and services to!
No matter how amazing they are, if they don’t have an audience, they won’t do you any good. The same goes true for marketing to the wrong audience. You need an audience, and you need it to consist of the right people who have actual need or desire for your offers.
Here’s an example. You came up with what you think is an amazing deconstructed roast pork sandwich. It’s one-of-a-kind, definitely, and it’s also the best-tasting sandwich you’ve ever had.
The question is, who will take interest in such a unique dish? Children and teens most likely won’t. Not only are they picky; they tend to stick to foods they’re familiar with.
So perhaps the income-earners? The thing is, do you think your target market will pay for a dish they need a plate for?
Remember, the main feature of sandwiches is their convenience and people can eat them on the go. So, they may find your sandwich too much of a hassle. Because of that, they’ll go to the next-door deli – your competitor – to satisfy their needs.
The bottom line is, you should base your brand identity on the needs, wants, and lifestyle of your market. Your sandwich may still work, but not as a best-seller. The same logic applies to whatever niche your business is in.
The key is to research your target audience’s buying behavior. Identify the things that influence their purchasing activities.
3. Package Everything Right
Seven seconds. That’s all it takes to leave a powerful first impression.
That’s why your branding strategy should also factor in packaging. It’s a key step on how to brand a product right. After all, it boasts your brand name, logo, tagline, etc.
In fact, the package itself of a product could actually be a part of the brand! There’s the curvy bottle design of Coca-Cola products, for example.
The goal of your packaging is to communicate your brand, what the product is for, and how it benefits people. At the same time, it should also protect against damages or contamination.
This said, make sure your packaging uses the proper combination of elements. Color is a priority, what with it having driven as many as 85% of shoppers to buy a product. Font, proportion, and symmetry are also key players in packaging done right.
Oh, and one more thing. Are your products eco-friendly, sustainable, or made from renewable materials?
If so, then don’t forget to put that in the packaging. A study found that such terms appeal more to consumers. That’s one way to boost the effectiveness of your business branding.
4. Turn Your Employees into Brand Ambassadors
You don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars to hire a celebrity to endorse your brand. You can start with the people who know exactly what your brand is and what it stands for.
That’s right – your employees!
But to get them to advocate your brand, they should love working for and with you. A happy work environment, good work ethics, and high workplace morale are key to this.
However, they should also admire the organization’s mission and vision. FYI, 70% of employees say they’d remain loyal to socially-responsible employers.
Remember: What your employees feel about you says a lot about your brand. If they’re happy, they’ll spread good news about it. Consumers would then look at you with more respect and credibility.
Those are some of the most important things customers look for in the businesses. As such, proving that you are respectable and credible is a powerful way to make your brand known.
5. Position Your Brand Online
Imagine this: You need to search for a product or service right now. Who or what is the first thing you turn to?
Your computer or smartphone to access the World Wide Web, right? You’re not alone. The convenience these technologies offer has made us so dependent on them.
These figures show how important having an online identity is for businesses. For one, because it’s the fastest, easiest way to get the public know your brand.
71% of small businesses understand this, which is why they now have their own websites. By positioning your business online, your making your brand easier to find. The faster people find you, the more your brand will become known.
Having a website isn’t enough though. You also need to show up on search engine results, which local SEO can help with. Online marketing strategies, such as content creation, also boosts branding opportunities.
There’s a lot more to having an online identity, but these are the best places for you to start.
Start Making a Name for Your Brand Now
Keep in mind that every month, about 540,000 new businesses open. That’s even more competition for you, so you need to up your branding ante. But so long as you keep everything in this branding 101 guide in mind, you’re on your way to creating a powerful brand.
Want even more insider tips for a successful business journey? Our blog has more of what you’re looking for!