When you think “brand,” the giants probably come to mind first: Coca-Cola, Nike, Amazon, Google. These powerhouse companies spend millions each year just maintaining public perception and sentiment.
As a small business owner, you may feel as though a “brand” isn’t necessary, since you aren’t now—and may never be—on the same level as these international corporations…but you’d be wrong. Just as with larger companies, you must concentrate first on your brand. This is how customers will identify you and your values before they ever even purchase your products or services.
Without the million-dollar budget to develop and maintain your brand, how could you possibly do the same brand development? Believe it or not, every company, large or small, has the same basic strategy. You can adapt these three key steps to your own business, regardless of your budget.
Know Your Unique Value Proposition
Your unique value proposition—or selling proposition—is how you set yourself apart from the competition. This is what consumers will think of your brand whenever your company comes to mind.
In some cases, the value proposition becomes your mantra, your tagline, your motto. For instance, Coca-Cola’s UVP was “The Real Thing” for years. Though they may not use the tagline anymore, people still consider Coke the “real” carbonated beverage, much to Pepsi’s consternation.
Apple’s unique value proposition doesn’t even need to be spoken. The brand has become synonymous with forward-thinking technology, sleek style, and user-friendly application. The taglines they choose, such as “You’re more powerful than you think,” and “All the power you want,” reflect their UVP but do not define the brand.
When developing your own unique value proposition, you want to focus on the aspects of your company that make you stand out from the crowd. Steve Hall of HubSpot says, “The positioning statement must define the audience, define the category in which the brand exists, cite a clear product or service benefit, set your brand apart from your competitors, and instill confidence the brand will deliver on its promise. “
Do you provide unparalleled service through multiple communication channels? Are your products handcrafted from luxury materials? Do you perform a service no one else can provide? When you can answer these questions, you are well on your way to a value proposition no one else can match.
Understand Your Buyer Personas
Another thing the monster corporations do well is understand their target buyer persona. Don’t make the mistake of thinking these are particular demographics, though demographics are important. You must instead drill down to the very pain your buyers feel before you can know how to solve it. That means you won’t simply market to “women in their late twenties and early thirties,” or “men and women with teen children.”
Instead of broad demographics, think of your buyers as characters. What do they do for a living? How much do they earn? How do they spend their free time? Do they have a family? Do they have a particular style? Once you have a clear picture in your head of your target buyer, you can better define your brand. Rather than limiting your brand, buyer personas open up a whole new world of possibilities.
Once you have an idea of who and what, you must then answer the why. Why does your buyer persona like the things he or she likes? Why do they choose a particular style of clothes? When you know why they make the choices they make, you’ll have everything you need.
Develop an Online Strategy
Your unique value proposition and buyer personas should then be used to develop your online strategy. This plan will use your buyer personas to determine how you will reach out and share your value proposition with them. Will your web design be crisp, minimal, and professional? Maybe your buyers will connect better with bold, bright, and witty. Can you convey your value proposition in words for the world to see, or will your products and services provide the picture buyers need?
Then, you’ll need SEO tactics to bring those buyers to your website. Your SEO is a huge part of your brand. Understanding your company’s identity also means you understand the unique keywords that buyers will use to find you.
Your design isn’t the only thing you’ll need to focus on. Where are your buyers? Do they spend time on social media? If so, which social media outlets will touch the largest percentage of your audience? Wherever those buyers are, that’s where you should be also. Concentrate first on the platforms that cater to your buyer personas, but remember that potential customers are everywhere. You’ll need more than just Facebook, even if it is the most widely used.
So, now you have the 3 key steps for developing a brand for your small business. Well, for developing a brand for a business of any size, really. These aren’t as difficult or expensive as you thought, are they? What else would you add to the list? I’d love to know your thoughts, so feel free to leave a comment!
3 Key Steps to Branding Your Small Business