If you want to grow your business, it’s important to think beyond just finding customers and making sales. You should really chart out a plan on how to build your brand. The benefits are obvious as when you have a recognizable brand, people are familiar with your logo, products and style of communication. And with that, comes a level of comfort they feel in choosing and dealing with your company.
When we talk about brands, it’s natural to think of large iconic companies such as McDonald’s, Amazon, Apple and Walmart. However, small and medium-sized businesses can also find ways to etch their brand names and messages into consumers’ minds. Let’s look at some of the best brand building strategies for any type of business.
Defining Your Brand
There are a couple of key questions to ask yourself as you go about building a brand. Who are your customers? Creating a buyer persona can help you identify the particular needs and preferences of your audience. Your customers will determine how you communicate and construct your brand.
What makes you different? This is sometimes known as your USP or unique selling proposition. Are you the highest quality, newest, oldest, cheapest or hippest in your industry? What values drive your business? These are some of the factors that help to define your brand.
Building Your Brand on Social Media
No business can afford to overlook social media as part of its branding strategy. As most of your customers are on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, you want to be able to reach them on these platforms. Whether your business is online or brick and mortar, you should be thinking of ways to build a brand online. Social media provides one of the simplest ways to do this.
- Identify the social media sites where your customers are most active. A Facebook page is essential as almost everyone is on Facebook. Other sites, however, have more specialized followings. LinkedIn is the leading platform for business-to-business marketing. Pinterest and Instagram are great for showcasing physical products.
- Post consistently. This is an obvious yet important part of any social media strategy. If you don’t post regularly, you won’t make a lasting impact on your followers.
- Publish interesting and relevant content. Don’t simply use social media to advertise your business. Post items that are interesting, educational or entertaining to your audience. Your content should also be closely related to your brand. This will make people more inclined to follow you.
- Engage. Remember that social media is about engagement. When people post comments or questions on your pages and posts, always respond. Actively encourage people to participate in your brand with polls, contests and invitations to send in stories or photos.
- Brand yourself visually. Social media is increasingly visual, with images and videos often getting more attention than text posts. Your logo is a strong visual anchor to your business. If you don’t have a logo or if the one you have doesn’t really do a good job in representing your business think of designing a new one. Be consistent with the kind of images, colors and styles you display on social media. These should also coincide with the look of your website.
Partnering with influencers is an effective way to build credibility and attract more customers. Influencers are people with large followings whom your customers look to for recommendations. While influencer marketing is often associated with social media, you can leverage it in a number of ways, both on and offline. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
- Choose influencers not by their fame or the size of their following but by how relevant they are to your target audience. Consider locally-famous or micro influencers, who are usually easier to connect with than those who are world famous.
- Influencers can help you build a brand online by recommending your product on social media, YouTube or on their blog.
- If you have a local brick and mortar business, you might consider hiring a local celebrity to MC or participate in a live event such as a fundraiser for charity.
- Interview an influencer for your blog, podcast or YouTube channel. Other possibilities include internet radio programs and local public access TV channels.
A traditional yet still powerful branding technique is to create branded promotional products. This is something that businesses of all sizes have been doing since long before the digital age. Promotional products such as t-shirts, pens, coffee mugs, baseball caps, tote bags, water bottles and countless other items give you a chance to spread your business’s name far and wide.
There are a variety of ways to use this strategy. You can give these products away at trade shows. You can sell them in your retail store or restaurants. You can create contests and give them away, either in person or online. The advantage of promotional items is that they have staying power. Whereas people usually only see an advertisement once, physical items are publicly displayed and carried around. If someone wears a t-shirt with your logo on it, thousands of people might see it. That’s why creating promotional products is such a timeless brand building strategy.
Build Strong Relationships With Customers
If you want to build a strong brand, you have to find ways to connect with your customers in a meaningful way. You don’t want people who only shop with you once or occasionally. You’re looking for loyal and long-term customers. Some of what we’ve already discussed, such as by engaging with people on social media, helps you do this. Here are some other ways.
- Provide outstanding customer service. All of your employees represent your brand, whether they interact with customers on the phone, online or in person. Make sure everyone who works for you is an effective brand ambassador.
- Cultivate reviews. Positive reviews are now one of the best ways to build your brand. They’re the latest form of word-of-mouth advertising. Make sure you’re listed on review sites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List or any sites that are relevant to your industry. For local businesses, it’s important to be listed with Google My Business so people can find you as well as leave reviews.
- Create a rewards or loyalty program. This is a good brand building tactic for both online and offline businesses. It helps build loyalty by encouraging people to shop with you consistently.
Building a brand is not something you do overnight. It’s a strategy for the long haul that requires ongoing attention to every area of your business. Identify the main characteristics of your brand and make sure that everything you do is in line with this image.