Brand Identity is as important for small business as it is for big business.
Recently I had the pleasure to meet with Kieran Toohey of Mi Media and Lee Haskings of Clear Pixel to discuss branding and marketing strategies.
Branding is not a difficult thing to do if you know who you are and how you want the world to see you.
Quite often we forget about our brand instead being more focussed on the products or services we sell that lead us to customers and revenue. That’s fine if you’re the only small business selling a particular product or service, but that’s a rarity. This is why branding is imperative not just for big corporations, but also for small businesses. In fact, it may be even more important the smaller your business is.
Many get caught up with the word “brand” and believe it’s this colossal term reserved for corporate powerhouses. The reality is that every company—and in this day of social media, most individuals—should establish what their brand equals.
As Lee kindly points out to me “Without knowing your brand it is hard to develop the content of your marketing strategy. It is the content and the message of the brand that helps drive the look and feel of your online medium such as websites or social media pages. Customers pick up on inconsistencies or content that doesn’t tell them what you are about and it turns them off.”.
Where to start?
When trying to understand where to start Kieran suggested a little activity “To get started, get a piece of blank paper and write the name of your company with a big equals sign after it. Then write the characteristics to the right of that equals sign that best describe what you are and how you would like to be perceived. Finally, narrow it to the three key items.”.
= the adding of value
Three points that help start you off
While for some that exercise is easy others may first need to consider where to start. I believe there are 3 areas you need to understand and define before you begin your branding exercise:
1. Understand the business niche you are in and how you differ from competitors.
2. Know your target audience to the core.
3. Fully grasp how your product and services hit the sweet spot of your audience’s needs.
Get Employee Buy-in
Once you have developed your brand it is essential to make sure your employees know what the brand stands for and are true to the brand in everything they do. Often the owner and management know what the brand equals (because they developed it), but the other staff that are interacting with customers do not fully grasp the brand and its intent. It is important that everyone is reading from the same playbook and knows what the brand stands for and how to represent it properly.
Most employees will tell you they don’t know what the business stands for or what they hope to deliver. This greatly impacts on customer experience and doesn’t help build a positive image with your customers and customers are key because a customer can become an advocate and an advocate is the most important marketer in your business. An advocate will provide instant credibility and trust for your business with other potential buyers.
Communicate Your Brand
This step takes knowing and living the brand as a company, as well as communicating what you equal to others.
Kieran, who specialises in developing brand-oriented communications, said “Communicating your brand positioning is not just about the adjectives you choose to support what the brand equals. It also involves the methods and manner in which you are communicating the brand to the general public and, more importantly, to your target consumers. When you and your employees know how to communicate what your brand equals you have hit the branding sweet spot.”
Some tips to aid yourself and your employees include:
1. Create phrases, copy and descriptions that hit the bull’s-eye when communicating with customers or clients. You have to not just know what the brand stands for but also how to properly communicate in order to not cause brand confusion.
2. Create a checklist of points to touch on while engaging with customers, to stay in line with the brand and what it represents. It should include situational encounters where a customer makes a request or has a question and the employee has a guide to the appropriate answer or response.
3. Make sure there is a set opening and exit when communicating to punctuate the brand and its positioning so the first and last impressions are always on brand.
You do not want staff flying by the seat of their pants and making things up on the spot. Lead them to the right path in consumer engagement and help them support the brand.
Turn Customer to Advocate
As mentioned above, the big Brand win is turning an average customer to an avid advocate. Someone who sings your brand praises to all who will listen. The best way to do this is to make sure your message is clear. A couple of quick tips include:
1. Make sure all communications, individual or mass, are consistent and in line with brand positioning.
2. Have one person/group review all outside messaging and any brand associations.
3. Reward loyal customers and fans with perks and special treatment to show your appreciation.
Kieran tells us how important it is to ensure that the communication accurately reflects your brand and what you stand for saying “small business often gets their communication wrong. They have a great brand but their communication to their customers doesn’t reflect who they are or what they do. This can be more damaging than it can be helpful.”.
In my discussions with Kieran & Lee it became clear that if you communicate your brand message to your target audience properly and your brand positioning is easy to understand, not only will your employees be great brand ambassadors but you will build an army of advocates as well. That is when you know you have been successful in implementing your branding strategy.
To hear more from Kieran & Lee be sure to register for our next Accession Session titled “Marketing your business of out the dark” on June 10 at 5.30pm. You can register here.
Author: Nick Rundle
Email Nick: firstname.lastname@example.org