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How to Build Your Brand
When you start your business, it’s likely because you’re passionate about a certain product or service, and your main goal is to get out there and sell that product/service to the world. You will work hard to establish yourself and your company in your chosen industry, and it’s important that you remember that, in addition to building a business, you are also building a brand.
What is a brand?
Ask ten different people “What is a brand?” and you’ll likely get ten similar, yet slightly contrasting, definitions.
The simple answer is: a brand is what a customer (or prospective customer) thinks of when she/he hears the name of your company or product. Brand perception ranges from the concrete aspects (name, logo, packaging) to the “emotional” aspects (relaxing, strong, etc.). And everything – every color used, every box shipped, and every song played in connection with your company and/or product – will have a hand in shaping your brand.
How to start building your brand
If you want your business to succeed, you have to connect with your potential customers. People are overwhelmed with choices, and everyone is competing for customers – so you need to find a way to connect and develop a relationship with your prospects.
Define your brand.
What makes you stand out? Why should someone choose your product or service? What do you offer that others don’t? Identify the needs and concerns of your customers, and determine how best to appeal to them – both logically and emotionally. And once you define your brand, make sure that all of your efforts bolster that definition.
Nothing sours potential customers like dishonesty. If you create expectations and consistently fail to deliver on those expectations, you’re doing more harm than good. Start by being honest with yourself. Know what you are capable of, and commit to it. You can’t be all things to all people, but if you know who you are and what you’re capable of, you can stay true to your vision. It won’t get you every customer, but it will get you the right customers.
Be true to yourself
This may sound like some “new age” buzz speak, but it’s important. When you’re building your brand, it has to be grounded in something you feel passionate about. It may be tempting to do something outside your comfort zone in order to appeal to more customers, but as soon as you do, you run the risk of alienating those who are comfortable with you just the way you are. Customers tend to be more loyal to the brands they see as original and authentic.
But be flexible
Branding is not an “all or nothing” concept. It’s expected that your brand will grow and change over time. After all, your customers’ needs will change over time as well. You can keep your message consistent without letting it grow stale. You’re building an identity, but that identity is dynamic, and subtle changes will occur.
Own your brand
If your product is high-end and expensive, then that’s what it is. When sales seem a little sluggish, it might be tempting to slash prices, or something along those lines. Don’t. If you’ve built your brand to be desired by high-end clientele, it will lose its luster if that high-end clientele sees it being offered at a discounted rate on the late night shopping channel. Conversely, if your brand speaks to the discount shopper, putting it in fancy packaging isn’t going to get you anywhere. Know who you are; know who your customers are; and stand behind both.
Make branding part of everything you do
It’s not enough to slap your logo on a product and call it a day. Your brand is your character – it’s something that should show through in all of your business efforts: from the way you deal with prospects, customers, vendors, and employees; to the marketing materials you develop; to the way you manage your social media outlets – it’s the way your product and/or company is perceived. One of my favorite comics, Louis C.K., said, “Perception is created and twisted so quickly.” And it’s the truth. Don’t allow the perception of your company to become twisted.
Branding is not as difficult as it appears
If you honestly evaluate your product, your target market, and your company’s goals and beliefs, you are well on your way to creating a brand. Stay focused and stay consistent, and you’ll build a brand identity you can be proud of.
Apr 09, 2014
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