Now that digital marketing has changed the entire marketing landscape for small businesses and startup enterprises, it’s easy to hang everything on your marketing. It’s easy to assume that, just because you have a good campaign targeted towards the right people, you’re going to do well. The fact is, however, that although this is certainly a good start, there are so many different businesses that are starting every single day that it is becoming increasingly difficult to break through and show yourself and what you can do. Unless you can build an audience, your business is just not going to grow.
This is why your branding is so important. The less you focus on marketing – even though it should never be forgotten as it is extremely important – and the more you think about your branding, the more you will be able to work out how to stand out from the crowd. You’ll build that all-important customer base, and you’ll make the sales you need to in order not just to survive, but thrive. Here are some of the ways you can make your branding stand out so that you can get to the head of the line.
Outsource Your Branding
Before you do anything else, before you even think about your marketing or your products or anything else, you need to ensure you get your branding just right. The best way to do this is to outsource to a brand design agency. If you can do this early on, you can work together and take enough time to get your branding exactly how you want it. Remember, there are very few second chances in business, and if you want to stand out, you want it to happen right away, and for positive reasons.
When you hire a brand agency to help you, you can rest assured that you speak to people who understand branding back to front. They know every aspect, each facet, and they will know what questions to ask you to find out what is most important, what your USP is, and what you do. Knowing this and understanding branding is a fantastic combination that will give you a brand to be proud of, one that is instantly recognizable and memorable and stands for everything you want it to.
Know Your Customer
Branding is all about enticing customers to use your products and services. Therefore, it makes sense that you need to know who those customers are, at least in the abstract, before creating a brand (or, ideally, having an agency create one for you). Being clear on just who your customers are means you know who is most likely to buy from you, and this is clearly crucial not just for your branding, but for your marketing and positioning too. How can you know what kind of ad to run if you don’t know who you want it to appeal to, for example?
Once you have defined your target market through in-depth market research, you will be more easily able to create a customer persona, or buying persona. This persona is meant to represent your ideal customer, and it is to this ‘customer’ that your marketing needs to appeal to most. If you can do this, your marketing budget will go much further, and you’ll be more successful.
But finding your customer persona is not just about marketing; it can be perfect for branding purposes too. If you are creating a brand message, it is a much simpler task to create one just for one persona (one type of buyer) than it is to think of something that everyone is going to like equally. This latter is an impossible thing to do since there are far too many variables to consider. If you can create branding that connects with your target market, you can much more easily communicate with them, and they will be happier to buy from you.
Think about how you buy things; you’re much more likely to buy from a brand you know and trust than one you have never used before. So, in order to assure your target market that they can trust you and that you are a business they can like, you need to add some personality to your branding. In other words, try to think of the human characteristics that would make someone buy from someone else, and use those attributes within your branding where you can. When you do this, your brand instantly becomes more relatable.
The brand personality is going to come from a variety of different sources. It’s the tone of voice you use in your text, it’s the colors you choose, it’s the social media platforms you use. It’s even in the font that your company name is written in. If you use a chatbot to help humanize your business, this should also match the brand personality so that anyone interacting with it feels comfortable and knows they are in the right place.
When you have a good brand purpose that people can understand, you are working on their emotions and, as we’ve said, the emotional response to a brand or piece of marketing is very important. Your brand purpose should express the reasons why you’re running your business, but it needs to be more than just talking about the products and services you offer. It should talk about the impact you hope to make on people’s lives and why you think your business can do this over and above anyone else’s. Plus, you don’t just have to think about how you might impact your customers’ lives; perhaps you give some of your money to charity, or you’re setting up an educational scholarship, or anything else that promotes a sense of wellbeing and happiness.
If your brand has a purpose that the average customer can understand, they will be more willing to buy from you because they find your business relatable, and they know what you’re trying to achieve.
Your brand purpose is, as we’ve mentioned above, an important part of your business persona. If your brand explains your purpose without having to go into too much detail, you have to be getting something right. Yet, it might not always be possible to show your brand purpose in as succinct a way as you might want. This is where your brand values are going to be useful. These are often one-word ideas that should plant a firm idea of what you do, how you do it and, ideally, why you do it.
You will have seen all kinds of businesses using the words ‘quality’, or ‘honesty’, or perhaps ‘friendly’ in their branding. These ideas may be entirely accurate, but they are also over-used and won’t help you stand out. They may even have the opposite effect and hide you in a sea of other businesses, all promising the same thing. Therefore, so that your brand values can be unique and honest, you’ll need to think carefully about what they are. Think of these brand values as a shorthand to tell people just what you really stand for. What are you against? Use these ideas to create your brand values and use them to your advantage. While everyone else uses the same old words that don’t have any meaning anymore as they are seen so often, you can be different and take the opportunity to stand out.
When you think of the idea of branding, or of a brand, you might immediately think of the logo, the colors used, the font, and so on. Although your logo is not in itself your brand, it is a big part of it since it forms a big part of your brand identity. It’s the part of your branding that is most easily recognizable, in other words.
You can easily express your business through your brand identity; it is a very visual way to get your message across. Plus, it’s what is going to be remembered and recognized by many people. If you think of the big businesses out there, such as Amazon, McDonald’s, or Adidas, the first thing you’ll think of is their logo – their brand identity. The human brain is excellent at remembering and recognizing visual clues, which is why your brand identity is so important.
If you can create something that literally stands out from the crowd, that can be recognized more than a competitor, that can be remembered even if the person remembering it doesn’t see it every day, then you have created just the right thing.
Finally, brand consistency is something that will certainly help you to stand out. If you keep changing your brand because you have new ideas or you think something isn’t right, you’ll never give anyone a chance to get to know it, or your business. They won’t recognize who you are because the brand image is different all the time. And if they do remember who you are, the fact that you keep changing how your brand looks and what it means is potentially very uncomfortable.
Humans are creatures of habit, and once they’ve found something they like, they want it to stay the same. If your brand is inconsistent, you risk losing many potential customers. This is why it’s so important to work on your brand before you launch your business so that you know you’ve got it right and won’t have to change it in the future.