When you build a business up from scratch, you face some exciting prospects. Your successes are all ahead of you and you’ve not yet experienced the sting of failure. You’re also likely to have a great product, one that could revolutionize the industry. But the tricky question is, how do you get people to know about your business?
Branding is a critical part of any new start-up’s early traction. You’re sending a message to your prospective clients about what your business is and why it’s different, better. Your goal is to instantly engender the trust of clients and consumers. This can truly be a make or break undertaking.
Take a look at these seven tips for establishing a successful brand from the very start.
Do – Define Your Brand Early
Never let branding budget become an afterthought. It shouldn’t be rushed. It should be carefully thought out and easy for people to understand.
Branding isn’t about logos and websites only. It’s about what your company is and what it represents. Chipotle comes to mind as a brand built on more than just on-point design and a solid product. At the core of their brand is the idea that fresh, local, sustainably-sourced methods are simply a better way. This brand movement has not only garnered huge success for Chipotle, but has forced industry competitors to get on board or get out of the way.
Do – Research Ad Nauseam
This is one aspect of branding that you should have learned about extensively in business school. Ask the essential questions, like who your competitors are and how what you’re offering is different. What makes your product or service so special? Moreover, what is going to make your brand stand out from the rest?
When you’re creating a business plan and building a brand or an image, make sure it stands out from your competitors. You should know precisely which aspects of their product, brand, and business model are resonating well with the market, as well as which aspects you can improve upon. Look at their pricing models and determine how your pricing can help position you as a more affordable or more premium option. Put together focus groups and network in person with potential consumers in your industry.
Do – Give Your Branding the Respect it Deserves
Everyone believes he or she is a creative director. This is not true. Creative directors, brand managers, and design agents have a job because branding and public relations is their specialty. And they’re better at it than you are.
“Thinking you can do it alone is one of the worst mistakes you can make,” says Barry Levy, managing partner at Levy Production Group in Las Vegas. “We see clients every day who designed all of their own branding assets. It’s the first thing we redesign when launching a new ad campaign.”
Bite the bullet and hire a professional to get consultation and advice on crafting your image. You pay these professionals to give you sound advice that will work. This is part of the overall branding investment. Don’t skimp out on it. It’s a must.
Do – Create Branding Consistency
A business builds a consumer’s trust over the years and across platforms by branding itself not only strongly, but consistently. This means consistency in marketing collateral, product packaging, site design, etc. Reliability breeds comfort and trust. Find out what your product is. Find out what your customers rely on you for. And then make your product the image everyone can associate your logo and business with.
Do – Invest in Ads
Targeted ads online are essential to getting the word out. Part of branding is investing in ads. This is a given. But don’t get sucked into thinking that online-only ads are the only way to get a positive ROI.
Once you’ve identified your audience, customers or clientele, find out what type of traditional advertising they’re most likely to trust. Billboards can be a key part of both business and marketing success, especially in highly competitive industries. They can form an essential foundation for reaching potential clients, engendering credibility and trust.
If your target market listens to the radio, put an ad on the radio. If they watch TV (or Hulu,) find ways to reach them where they are.
Do – Invest in a Website
A website should be able to take the place of even your best salesperson. The right website can be a powerful tool for informing your potential audience or helping them find the right product right when they’re looking for it. Here are a few questions to ask when having a site built for you:
- Does it match the design, tone, and message of your established brand?
- Does it clearly present your unique selling proposition?
- Is the URL easy to remember?
- Can it be customized in the future?
- Is is optimized for search engines?
Your website will be there for you, selling your business and reaching potential customers even when you can’t. Its importance can’t be overstated.
Don’t – Expect All of the Results Overnight
All of these tips will get you off the ground, but success doesn’t come overnight in any pursuit. While you’ll have a tough time getting off the ground without a consistent, memorable, and easily distinguishable brand, in the end it’s going to be persistence, salesmanship, a few lucky breaks, and a solid business model that carry you to success.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Building a Brand from Scratch: 7 Do’s and Don’ts of Branding Your Business
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