How Small Businesses Can Identify and Build a Brand
Your small business may not have the resources of a General Mills, a Ford Motor Company or a Google, but you do have something in common with any large business. And that is a need to brand your business. Branding isn’t just making a logo or coming up with a tag line, important steps each, rather it is your commitment to your customers to deliver products and services that distinguishes your business from your competitors.
Creating your unique brand begins with defining the message you want to convey to your customers. That message becomes the foundation to advance your business.
1. Identification — What is it about your business that is unique? You may run a coffee shop, but what differentiates you from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Caribou Coffee? It could be your unique flavors or perhaps your oversized containers. These attributes are what your customers know you by and help to define your brand.
2. Logo — Develop a logo that accurately portrays what your business is all about. In the coffee example, you might show a mug with steam rising out of the top forming the letters mmm…. Work with a marketing professional to come up with the right logos and color schemes. You’ll be using your logo on everything including cups, napkins, signs, letterhead and legal documents.
3. Tagline — Besides an eye-catching logo, a tagline can help your customers make the association you want with your brand. That tagline can appear below your logo and might say something like this, “Piping hot coffee at cool prices.” Consider trademarking your logo and your tagline. An emotional connection can go far in advancing your brand.
4. Integration — Your brand is your business and your business is your brand. The two go hand in hand and should reflect the way that you conduct your business. Greet customers by welcoming them to your shop, mention your shop’s name when answering the phone, advance your company’s name with your suppliers. Repetition is the key to successful branding.
5. Consistence — You must never tire of delivering to your customers exactly as expected. For the coffee entrepreneur, that means your coffee is always hot, fresh and competitively priced. Your employees also know what your brand stands for and works tireless to support your business. Handle customer complaints at once and never take your loyal customers for granted.
Along with branding, you must gauge your customer demographics. This means knowing who your customers are, what they want and anticipating their needs. It also means being flexible and willing to improve your brand to stay competitive and to maintain customer satisfaction.