Small Business 101: Building a Strong Brand

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Imagine that your business is a hockey team. Through all the chaos on the ice, your fans are still able to identify your players and cheer them on because of their distinctive appearance. This is the way you should think about your branding efforts, as the means by which your business’s fans can identify you and cheer your business on. Your brand is comprised not only of your name, logo, slogan, company colors, and product but also includes the total experience that customers have while interacting with your small business.  The way you handle customer experiences and what you choose to post on social media sites will also become part of your brand, .  In a word, your brand is the identity of your business.  It encompasses all that you stand for and that which the public will come to associate with your company. For these reasons, you should be aware of your own core values, the UVP, or unique value proposition that you give to your clients, as well as the calling cards that you would like your business to be known for.

Here are some key components of a strong brand:

Be Unique.  Standing apart from the crowd is what makes your small business memorable, and being memorable is what will allow your business to maintain its customer base.   Chances are good that you have competitors in you area who offer services that are comparable to yours, perhaps hitting different price points or targeting different niche demographics. Think about how your company is different.  What makes you special?  It is important to pinpoint exactly that which you bring to the table so that you can communicate a clear message of who you are with the public.  A strong brand will have a well-defined unique value that it can easily share with an audience. If you can’t think of any unique values that make you different, then that is a bad sign. If this is the case, analyse your strategy and create some UVP’s from scratch.

Be Consistent.  In order to build a strong brand, make sure that you are reliable and consistent in your work.  Follow through with all of the promises you make.  Standing by your word time after time will demonstrate your company’s integrity and lead to brand loyalty.  Be consistent in your brand’s message as well.  From the photos and information you post on social media sites to the conversations you hold with community members, your brand should be recognizable as one consistent entity. Ensure that you can deliver what you promise for the price you sell it at. Sure, offering great quality for low prices fast will make your customers love you, but if it puts you out of business, what is the point? Balance what you are able to promise against the costs of delivering it, so that there are no surprises for you or for your clients.

Excel in What you Offer.  Having excellent products and services will be a cause for people to talk about your small business and build your brand recognition.  Word of mouth goes a long way – especially for small companies, who rely heavily on referrals for business.  Even if you excel in all other areas of building your brand, product and service excellence are key.  Your brand will obviously lose credibility if the quality of your product is found to be lacking.  Keep on testing and refining your product to make it even better.

Know thyself. If you don’t know what you’re really selling, there is no way that you will be able to market it effectively. If your key value is quality, don’t promise that you can deliver an order in too short an amount of time. Conversely, don’t pad the amount of time you are going to need and then deliver a shoddy product after sitting on your hands. Do what you do and be up-front about it, and then spread your message.

Photo Credit to San Francisco Bulls on Flickr.

 

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