5 Steps You Can Take Today To Improve Your Brand

When you are setting up a business, perfecting your brand, website design and marketing material is crucial. But as you get more heavily involved in servicing your customers it is so easy to forget to review your brand message and consider how your business presents itself to new customers.

So if you are keen to gain a little edge with your brand, take some time today to follow through with the 5 steps below:

1. Stand Out from the Crowd

You may be one of many businesses in your local area who is offering a similar product or service. Take 15 minutes today to examine your business model and identify what makes you different from your competitors. Does your product have any unique features? Do you take the services that your business provides to the next level?

Once you have established how you stand out from the crowd, make your audience and potential customer base aware of it. Make that quick phone call to your website designer today and be sure that this difference is being marketed in your website.

2. Consistency is Key

When was the last time you reviewed the brand message you are conveying to your customers in your marketing material and in your print, website and social media presence? Is the brand message consistent between all of them?

Take 30 minutes today to review all of your marketing and media presence. If you feel that your message may be getting lost, make a quick call to your advertising agency and express your concerns. They can make step in to make the changes to tighten up your brand presence across the board.

3. Flawless Customer Service

Customers appreciate quick, easy service and great communication. It isn’t always possible to respond to a new or existing customer’s queries immediately, but it is easy to let them know that you have received their message or email and that responding to it is a priority.

Use a tea or coffee break today to set up an automated response email and text message that can be sent to your customers as soon as they have made contact with you. Be sure to include an approximate time in which you intend to respond to them – customers will appreciate the reassurance.

4. Make Dealing with Your Business an Experience

No customer wants to think of themselves as just a number. Put some quick and simple initiatives into play today to let your customers know that they matter to you and to your business.

Set a policy in place today to send a thank you card to your customers when they do business with you. Start setting up calendar reminders for client birthdays and include a reminder to send them an email on that day. Take a video of you and your staff interacting in the office and post it to your blog or website this afternoon.

5. Get Some Feedback

Nothing speaks louder for your business’ brand than the voice of a satisfied customer.

Make sure to call or email 3 of your previous customers today and enquire as to whether they would be willing to provide a testimonial or review of your product or service. Make a quick phone call to your website designer and be sure that these testimonials are placed on your website as quickly as possible.

Why Branding Is Important for Small Businesses

Often small businesses fall into two traps around branding – that they can’t manage it because they are small and that it is primarily about products anyway. While branding does feature the products or services that a business offers, this is only a small part of it. And branding is something that can benefit businesses of all sizes as well as being accessible to everyone. Here are a few reasons to seriously consider working on your company branding.

What is Branding?

Branding is about creating a unique identity for your business that means even when you sell the same products or services as someone else, you can stand out from the crowd and attract customer attention. Small business branding can often be seen as difficult to do as you can’t compete with the big company in terms of resources or manpower. And while this might be the case with resources, it doesn’t mean your branding can’t work for you just as well as theirs.

People relate better to companies that have strong branding and an identity. They vote for which branding works for them with their shop visits, clicks or purchases. By having strong, cohesive branding, your company can be the one that they notice, feel a connection with and therefore purchase from. It can also create brand loyalty and those crucial returning customers.

Recognition Leads to Trust

One thing studies have shown is that recognition of a brand builds trust and people are more likely to buy from a company if they feel they can trust them. Therefore, trust and reputation are key to business success and branding plays a big part in this.

By having that strong, identifiable brand, even the smallest company can begin to build trust with customers. This leads to customer loyalty – 48% of customers say they are more likely to become loyal to the brand during their first experience or purchase with them.

There are lots of ways to create that brand to build trust with everything from catchy slogans and memorable names to attractive and eye-catching colour schemes being used. But the most effective brands combine something of everything. They work on the principle that we retain only around one-tenth of the information that we see when we read something.

But if you include visuals with that information, this rate of retention rises up to almost two thirds. Therefore, having that catchy slogan paired with great graphics, a clear colour palette, brand voice and other elements means you have a better chance of people remembering what you do. That’s why visuals are so popular on social media and almost three-quarters of marketers use them ahead of even video.

Brand Reputation

As you attract attention for your brand and build trust, then you start to create a reputation, be it online or in the physical world. Reputation is crucial for business – it covers everything from customer interactions, product standard, feedback and even how you reward your customers.

That strong, positive reputation can even convince people to buy. 91% of shoppers asked in one study said they were more likely to buy from a brand that they viewed as ‘authentic’ than one that they didn’t. So building that brand reputation can gain you customers in a big way.

Using marketing teams to manage your reputation may seem like something that a small company cannot manage but this isn’t the case. By having external experts who take on tasks such as checking customer feedback, managing social media and creating the right content, you can quickly build and enhance your business reputation.

Making Sales

A strong brand increases the number of leads that you will generate and this, in turn, means making more sales. However, you need to maintain your reputation and standards when generating these leads or the work done by the brand can vanish. Response times, voice and even the actual content you use to handle leads all needs to be consistent with the brand.

Following through on your promises also helps build that reputation. Have a clear customer process with times outlined so customers know what to expect and make sure you follow it – that way people are impressed with what you do and more likely to tell others.

Business Growth

That strong, cohesive brand is crucial for other areas of the business growth. Staff morale, for example, can be a problem. If staff are demotivated, don’t know what the company stands for or feel unimportant, then this can lead to bad customer service. This damages the brand.

So by having a clear brand that employees can get behind, you can offer a better service to your customers. Staff feel proud to talk about what the company does or the services that it offers. And they learn to talk with the brand’s voice, ensuring all of their communications with customers offers consistency. This makes the company seem more friendly and approachable and this is another reason that customers become loyal to the brand.

Branding also stands out to potential investors in the business. According to a study by Reuters, some 82% of investors said that the strength of a company’s brand and name recognition were important factors in a decision to get involved with a business.
What this shows is that from all aspects of the business, branding is crucial. You need to have a presence that is recognisable from your social media profiles and website through to your physical store if you have one. The brand rules how you talk to customers and ensures staff can believe in it.

There are lots of ways that branding can help with business growth and success. This means that having a strong brand and optimised strategy to use it is vital to the long-term success and profitability of your company.

Creating a Brand for Your Business Startup

While you have been busy creating and planning your business startup, you need to take some time to consider what and who you are. This is your business’ brand identity and planning it early on can go a long way in developing the message that your customers will remember about your company and its products and services.

Creating a brand takes into account all the aspects of your business to craft a message that is memorable as well as indicative of what you do. It signifies who you are, what you stand for, and can make a difference in the decisions you make now and into the future.

Appeal to Your Key Customer

When starting off brainstorming about your brand, you need to think about who your ideal customer is. Your brand should identify directly with this target market and be something that they can relate to. Think about your target market and what helps them recognise your business as one they prefer and would buy from. Use wording that appeals to them and will help them relate in a way that entices yet explains your brand in a concise and interesting way.

Using jargon or unfamiliar words that just don’t hit a note with your customer base can be a turn-off. Keep it simple and use words that compel your audience while also educating them on what you do. You want to make sure your brand resonates with your ideal customer so they can remember your business and be persuaded to buy from you because your business startup shares the same values as they do.

Examine Your Competition

It is also a good idea to have a grasp on what your competition is doing right with their branding. Investigate and dig deep into the ideas that your competitors have integrated into their brand. How are these brands identifying with customers? What is working? What is not? This little bit of investigation work can be beneficial to helping you develop your own brand as you can take key features that are advantageous and incorporate them into your own brand.

This can also help you avoid the branding concepts that your competition uses that are not as strong as they could be. Consider where your competition is missing the mark and note these areas for improvement with your own branding strategy.

Celebrate Your Individuality

You will also want to highlight the elements of your business startup that stand out. What makes you unique? Why are you different than the competition? These cornerstone separators are what you need to focus on with your brand. They can help you tell your story to your customers and set you apart from the pack in your niche.

This is where you celebrate what makes your business startup so special and make it a part of your branding message. Letting your customers know that particular aspect they can find with your business and not another can be a powerful part of your branding identification. Not only can this give you a leg up but it can be the sole deciding factor as to why a customer chooses your products and services over another.

Allow yourself to celebrate these standout features and make sure your customer base knows about them easily by seeing them in your logo, advertising, promotions, and marketing strategy. It should be your brand identifier and the reason that you are in business, to begin with.

Give Yourself Some Personality

Your brand should be the single thing that customers say about your business. They should be able to recognize your logo and the keywords that you have chosen to align with your brand. This should spell out the vision of your business startup and help your customers understand what you are all about. Try to infuse some personality into who your business is so your customer base can relate with you on an emotional level.

Appealing to the senses of your customer base can be beneficial and allow you to show your personal side too. The more you can show your customers that you are a business they need to buy from and follow, the more success your startup will have going forward. Your brand will set the stage for your business startup now and into the future. It will give you direction and be the sole factor in determining the role your business takes in the market.

Be Concise and Consistent

When you have determined the exact branding for your business startup, now is the time to utilise it to your advantage. Align your marketing strategy around your branding message and be sure to incorporate it into all your promotions. The stronger you can make the reach and visibility of your company branding, the more impact it will have on your customer base.

Many a company goes astray from their corporate branding, leaving customers confused as to what the business is all about. Set yourself on a path early on to use your branding in all media platforms and promotions to ensure that you send the right message that is clear and concise in its actions.

Be consistent in your branding and ensure your entire team is onboard with what the brand stands for and means. Instruct your staff on how to utilise the brand in every interaction so they can drive home the message with your customers.

Having a brand that signifies what your business startup stands for at the very beginning can eliminate cross signals about your business and the products and services you sell. It can create a clear definition of who you are as a business and make sure you develop a following with your customers right out the gate.

Taking the time to develop a brand strategy gives your business startup life and will define your company without question among your customers. You will have created the vision of your business startup and be able to build upon your brand moving forward, making it stronger and more powerful as time goes on.

The Strategic Plan For Your Brand

Solopreneurs and small business owners rise and fall on the marketplace perception of their brand, also known as one’s professional reputation. For that reason, the brand merits ongoing monitoring, enhancement and promotion as a component of strategies designed to support new business acquisition and encourage repeat business. The objective is to build and maintain a good client list. A useful way to review and evaluate your brand is with what many experts consider the gold standard of strategic planning, the SWOT Analysis.

SWOT is the acronym of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Every 18 – 24 months, self-employed professionals will benefit from examining the viability of their brand, to better understand what actions enhance the brand and what might weaken it. Conduct a SWOT Analysis and use what you discover as the foundation of a strategic plan for your brand.

Strengths: expertise, competitive advantages, A-list clients, referral sources, strategic partnerships, educational or professional credentials, financial resources, influential relationships. They are internally generated and within your control. Potential actions include:

  • Leveraging resources to upgrade the types of clients you work with
  • Increasing sales or billable hours by a certain percentage
  • Developing a strategy to obtain more repeat business
  • Developing a strategy that would persuade clients to hire you for more lucrative projects

Weaknesses: whatever challenges your brand. Competitors, ineffective marketing, poor customer service, weak perceived value of your products and services. These are internal and within your control. Potential actions include:

  • Determining which inadequacies have the most negative impact on revenues
  • Identifying gaps that can be quickly or inexpensively remedied
  • Understanding how to minimise liabilities—which business practices can you modify, professional credentials you can earn, relationships you can cultivate?

Opportunities: conditions that favour the attainment of goals. These are external and beyond your control, yet you may be able to retool and benefit from their presence. Good information about business conditions in your marketplace helps business owners to evaluate and envision the potential of short-term and long-term benefits and learn how to get the pay-off. Consider the following:

  • What new developments can you leverage to bring money and prestige to your venture?
  • Do you see ROI in offering new products or services?
  • Are there good clients you might successfully sign or lapsed clients who, with outreach, could be willing to reactivate?
  • Is there a niche market you can successfully enter?

Threats: conditions likely to damage your brand, or your ability to acquire clients and generate sufficient billable hours. These are external and beyond your control, yet you may be able to retool and escape or minimise the damage caused by their presence. This element requires your immediate attention, since it carries the potential to end, or seriously cripple, your brand and business.Has an important contact left his/her organisation, leaving you at the mercy of the new decision-maker, who has his/her own friends to hire? Or has there been a merger that resulted in the downgrading of the influence of your chief contact, who may lose the ability to green-light projects that you manage?

Has a well-connected and aggressive competitor appeared on the scene, ready to eat your market share and client list by way of a better known brand, more influential relationships, a bigger marketing budget, or other game-changing competitive advantages?

If your client contact has moved on, take that person to lunch or coffee and attempt to make the professional relationship portable. If your contact has lost influence in the new organisation chart, take him/her out to coffee and get information about the replacement, who may hire you for the next project if it’s scheduled to start quickly.

If competition has intensified, do everything possible to offer superior customer service, assert your expertise, step up your networking, enhance your thought-leader credentials and nurture your client relationships.

Implementing a strategy of protective action, for example, a brand relaunch or a pivot into more hospitable business turf, might be necessary. Stay abreast of current and potential developments in the industries you serve. Communicate with clients and stay current as to the state of their priorities and concerns. Good relationships will give you the resources of time and information that will allow you to evaluate and regroup.

The Importance of Consistent Branding

Its becoming increasing common for your customers to evaluate, and make, buying decisions online. Just look at your own buying habits – how often have you reviewed the competition before even walking into a store (if you even go into a store and not buy online!). This is exactly why branding is more important than ever.

So, what is branding? It essentially boils down to your customers’ perception of your business and includes personality, character, and values. Branding should extend to your storefront/office, all signage/print materials, website and online presence, customer service and team interactions.

Where do you start?

  1. Do your research – who are your competitors, what do their sites look, feel and sound like. Should yours stand out from the crowd or be in line with the industry. What makes you unique and stand out from your competitors? Depending on who you serve (and understanding their needs) will dictate your direction.
  2. Understand who you are and who you serve (a little more research!) – what do your customers care about the most? Put your customers first – cater to their needs from your site first, start with easy to find contact information. Ask yourself if the copy is too long or is filled with jargon. Is your content arranged on the page so its easy to read, does it tell enough of the story to be helpful, do you provide testimonials to ease decision making, are your packages/pricing easy to find and understand? Will they know what they’re getting? We have a great worksheet that helps clients understand their client, if you’d like to receive a copy – please send us an email! We’d be happy to send it along.
  3. Define your mission statement and vision -All actions and communication should tie back to your mission statement and vision, and your brand should reflect your future goals. Let’s take for example that your vision is to recreate an industry and stand out by turning the industry on its head, sounds radical? Now what if that’s your vision, and your website is shades of grey with very formal text, heavy with jargon. How does that speak to your vision?
  4. Design and Copy – don’t underestimate the power of visual appeal. Create a logo that’s recognisable and choose a colour palette that reflects your values and voice. The structure of your website should be simple to navigate, with clearly laid out text, that’s easy to digest in a clear font (not too scripty and difficult to read). Copy should be professional and demonstrate experience while speaking in a language that all can understand. Your copy should be clear of typos and grammatical errors (enlist the help of an editor, or at the very least have a trusted peer review your content).
  5. Social media is an extension of your brand, this includes both look, feel, and content. Use social media to extend your reach with timely responses to reinforce your dedication to customer service, quality information that is curated and created in line with your vision.

And one bonus tip – create a style guide with standards for tone, voice, style; and includes standards for social media, website design, any graphic design going forward. Don’t forget to include team expectations! This is the perfect time to create guidelines for response time, signature lines, tone and professionalism.The key is – you are your brand, so ALWAYS be consistent!

7 Steps To Make Your Brand Stand Out

It’s important to find ways for your brand to stand out over other brands. You want your brand to be particularly distinctive and individual so that your audience has no doubt about whether something was put out by your company or not.

1. Match Your Branding Throughout

Remember that your brand should match whether you’re online or offline, on Facebook or LinkedIn, or publishing an article or an eBook. Your branding should be the same no matter where you are. The colors, fonts, mood, feeling, and thoughts your audience gets from your work need to match.

2. Be Active on Social Media

The more people see you sharing, the more they’ll get to know you and the more you can demonstrate what your brand stands for. Each share, comment, or response is a chance to show what your brand is about and how it’s different from others.

3. Understand Your Audience

It may seem strange to focus on your audience when branding yourself. But how your audience sees you is what’s important. Doing activities, publishing content, and responding to people in the way your audience wants you to, needs you to, and expects you to, is essential to show your distinctive differences.

4. Know How You Solve Problems

Your job for your audience is to solve their problems within the scope of products and services that you offer. You can solve those problems via your own products and services or by promoting someone else’s. But you should know how to solve their problems, and that requires knowing what they are.

5. Use the Right Language

The language you use should match what your brand voice is, and what your audience uses as well. If they have terms that they use (keywords) to find you, you should be using those too. Plus, use them in the right way, and the only way to do that is to know your audience and how they communicate.

6. Pay Attention to Your Voice

Your brand should have its own voice. That voice often matches your personal voice, and that’s okay. However, do pay attention to that voice, ensuring that it fits in with what you are trying to project to your audience and that it remains consistent throughout.

7. Be Consistent in Your Messaging

Keep every message you send consistent. If you say something that contradicts something you said yesterday, you need to have a good reason and explain, otherwise people get really confused about who you represent and who you are.

Branding is important for small businesses as well as large companies. If you have a limited budget, smart branding is perhaps the most inexpensive business tool you can create.