Developing your brand

Have you ever wanted to have your own special brand? Many small business owners think they must be giant corporations to have a successful brand. Nothing could be further from the truth. Think about some of the major brands we have today such as Pepsi and Coke, and think about your favorite brands. Many of these brands had very humble beginnings and started small and grew to be the giants we see today.

Branding is about defining your business in a way different from your competitors and building identity for your business. By doing that your customers will be able to make a difference between your business and other businesses.
Your brand is also known as “good will.” Your brand has a value that is beyond a material building or inventory. Your brand will tell customers what is special about your company.
One of the first steps you must take is to decide what makes your company special. Is it the product, service, or maybe the excellent customer service? Your special niche might even be a combination of things. Whatever makes your customers come back time after time is the thing to promote.
The next step will be to design a logo and decide on name for your brand that will catch the eye and makes your business standout from the rest. If you are not sure what you want for a logo, sitting down with a graphic designer is a good idea. He/she will be able to give you valuable input and make suggestions.
Building successful brand requires consistency. You must have consistency in all phases of your business. Here is a list of some of the most important areas for building your brand:
Advertising and Promotion
Customer Service
Product and Pricing
Public Relations
Employee Relations
Let’s take a look at each of these areas.
Advertising and Promotion – A business should promote and advertise during periods of prosperity and periods of hardships. If you think of your favorite brands for example they continuously promote and advertise their product and services and they are consistent in their messages. Your advertising must have this same consistency given the budget you can allocate for your promotion and advertising. You may not have big budget, but you need to come up with your own ways to communicate your message to your target audience. The more often customers see and hear of your brand the more likely they will do business with you or buy your products and services.
Customer Service – Customer Service is important for every business. People do not like dealing with businesses with poor service. This is an important aspect of your brand and you need to think of how you can be different than your competitors when it comes to customer service and communicate that through your promotional and advertising campaigns. People want to trade with a business that will give them excellent customer service. The service they receive should be friendly, timely and consistent. By continuing to give consistent customer service, your customers will appreciate your brand and they will start talking about your brand which is free and the most effective promotion for your small business. Also by rewarding customer loyalty you will build long term customers.
Product and Pricing – This is another extremely important area when establishing your brand. People will be drawn to your business if you price your products or services fairly based on the quality of your products and services. Ask yourself: “Why do people always seem to shop at Wal-Mart?” One answer is this: They have consistently low prices. The stores also usually have what the customer wants in stock.
Public Relations – Public relations allows you to build a relationship with your customers and your community. It helps your business gain credibility. By promoting and supporting positive causes and events in your community your business will develop a positive image.
Employee Relations – Branding is not only for your customers and people outside your small business but also for your employees. The more your employees understand and believe in the value of your business they will start branding your business. Employees who enjoy working for you will help you build your small business brand.
Another very important part of building your brand is the Internet. Businesses who have a presence on the Internet will be able to reach more customers. Even if you do not sell online your customers can visit your website and learn more about your business and this is part of your branding strategy.
Branding your business is important for your success however keep in mind that branding is an ongoing process. Learn from the large corporate brands, keep your name in the public eye, promote your brand consistently, treat your customers and employees good and build your business to support your brand.