All too often do we see new businesses with huge potential prematurely fold despite significant levels of financial and emotional investment. It is not always obvious to business owners why their ventures have indeed failed, but amid the cluster of factors that can contribute to their demise, poor branding notoriously emerges as one of the most harmful villains.
The effective branding of a business is a critical element to its survival, because without it, the firm merely blends in the saturated and ordinary competitor landscape. The power of branding may not be obvious to the untrained eye, but it is the shrewd business folk who realise that aligning their product or service with a distinct and unique identity can be what separates them from the wolf pack.
In effectively branding your small business, there are five key tips, which can help to propel you to into advantageous territory and give you the competitive edge.
1. Understand your target market
In order to reach specific customers and satisfy their unique needs, entrepreneurs must identify those people and understand their every want, desire and motivation. It is not enough to simply target the general population, as this will result in your business not resonating strongly with the specific people who are interested in what you have to offer. That is why it is extremely important to find out everything about the customers you intend to pursue as you must cater directly to their wants, needs and values. You have to understand how to “speak into their listening”, and build relationship by tailoring the brand experience.
The Perfect Potion is company that really understands their target market. They have gone as far as to define the ideal client at the “Green Goddess”. Every employee knows how to identify the Green Goddess when she walks through the door and knows exactly how to sell to her.
2. Define your unique proposition
Your point of difference, what distinguishes your offer from that of competitors, is your promise to the market. In order to effectively connect with customers, your business needs to cut through the advertising clutter and assert your brand’s uniqueness. After all, it is how your business is unique to your competitors that what will give you the advantage. But make sure your offering is something your target market want, that the competitors are not delivering on. Customers need a reason to select you, therefore it is essential that you demonstrate what benefit is derived from your product or service that is different to the others and will satisfy a need in them.
A great USP from Fedex “delivered next day or your money back”
3. Develop a name that expresses your core values, is memorable and is distinctly different from the competition
Finding a relevant, unique and memorable name is essential when branding your business. The business name and accompanying positioning statement, should express the identity and communicate the personality of the business. It’s a bad idea to name the business directly after the service you provide, for example, ‘Garden Maintenance’ or ‘Computer Repairs’, as this lacks originality and does little to set you apart from the competition. It’s vital that your name is memorable and demonstrates the uniqueness of your product or service, as this will leave the door open to future business development opportunities and assist brand recall in new markets.
A great name for a new brand was when 7-Eleven launched at the time it was the first store to open on extended hours 7am to 11pm.
4. Develop an identity that visually expresses the brand essence
Your identity should be demonstrated through elements of the business such as the name, logo, business cards, newsletters, website design, email signoffs, interior décor, signage, typefaces and other business related collateral. If you’re going for a sexy, young and vibrant image, you must ensure that what you express visually is consistent. It’s important to maintain visual continuity and across all facets of the business so consumers can accurately perceive what it is you’re about. As the average consumer is exposed to between 3000-5000 advertisements per day, it is critical that the marketing strategy you implement has a consistent message, which reflects the essence of our brand and communicates your point of difference.
Have a look at evolution of the National Bank of Australia or the launch of Lorna Jane.
5. Develop a positioning statement to sit with the identity that expresses your unique proposition to your target market.
A well crafted positioning statement establishes the direction of your business; it says what you do and who you do it for and builds on your unique proposition to the market. Your positioning statement should be active and generate a positive emotional response in the minds of your target market.. It should avoid being too broad, as overgeneralised positioning statements will fail to engage your target audience. This error can be particularly fatal for small businesses establishing themselves within a particular niche market or in an industry saturated by strong competition.
Remember strong brands rest on compelling and distinctive emotional connections with their customers.
Consider Jeans West promise to the market “Jeans West simply fits best!”
Jane Toohey is a non-executive company director, and a strategic sales & marketing consultant. Having been a business owner herself, she brings commercial savvy to any situation and the ability to drive and develop business. She is highly creative and can develop ideas that cut through the media clutter. She currently operates as an outsourced strategic director for a number of companies and works closely with various business partners to deliver professional integrated solutions to a variety of national clients and lead effective marketing teams to generate results. She currently sits on the board of GIVIT.
Cupcake image: Credit