Basic Branding Principles for Your Small Business
If you own a small business, you may not think that branding is a major consideration; it’s not like you’re Coca Cola or Apple, after all. But every business can benefit from attention to building a brand, whether it operates in a small community, on a global scale, or entirely online. And you should definitely be concerned about the brand image you’re presenting because the way you are perceived by consumers can have an enormous impact on your business, whether positive or negative. So if you’re looking to improve your brand image in order to increase your consumer base (not to mention sales), here are just a few basics that will get your transformation underway.
1. Products and services. First and foremost, you must fill a niche if you want to be number one. Consider for a moment the MP3 player. The iPod is probably the first one that comes to mind (you may not even be able to think of another brand that has a comparable product) and this is because they did it best and beat out the competition. Not everyone can offer a product or service that is truly revolutionary, but you can strive to be the best at what you do. So try to offer one great product or service rather than a dozen mediocre ones.
2. Community considerations. Businesses operate within communities of one sort or another (real world or virtual) and they have a responsibility not to harm those who support them. So one consideration for many brands these days is the welfare of both the communities and the environments in which they operate. As a result, you may want to think about ways to organize community outreach efforts as well as do your part to reduce the carbon footprint of your company.
3. Customer service. There’s nothing quite like pleasing your customers so much that they become brand ambassadors, talking up your business with no motivation other than to share an amazing experience with their family and friends (you can call it free publicity). By making excellent customer service a top priority, you’ll ensure that the reviews coming your way are positive and that consumers remain loyal to your brand (and help to build your image).
4. Advertising. Everything from store signs to TV ads to an online presence has an effect on your brand, and you need to be cognizant of the fact that the way you advertise has a definite impact on your image. So make sure to do market research and only use advertising that supports the core values of your brand. Do not compromise in this directive if you want your brand to remain strong.
5. Planning for the long haul. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same goes for your brand. Do you know how long it took Coca Cola to become the most popular drink in the world? Decades! It’s estimated that they gave away over eight million free sodas in a bid to make their product a household name. And now, more than 100 years later, people in nearly every country in the world drink Coke products. So give yourself a break and remember that it takes time to build a brand.