Three Essentials for Building a Strong Brand
Nike. Coca-Cola. Apple. All companies that have obviously got this whole branding thing down pat. They’re ubiquitous, they’re massively successful and they’re dominating their industries. But when you’re a small company trying to establish your brand strategy, they’re not exactly the most useful examples to focus on. Shooting for the stars is great and all (thanks for the mantra, kindergarten teachers of the world!), but aspiring to be Amazon before you’ve even established your core values is a classic case of cart before horse. If you don’t even know who you are and what you stand for, there’s no way you’re going to be able to communicate that to the rest of the world. Your brand is your intangible currency, and strong brands are the difference between small businesses that never really get off the ground and those that become the Nikes of the world.
So what should you focus on when you’re beginning to build your brand as a small business?
Establishing Your Identity
First and foremost, you need to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Just saying “we knit custom monographed beer cozies and we’re doing it to make money” isn’t going to cut it. We’ve talked about the importance of creating core values that actually mean something, and the same concepts apply to brand values. Once you’ve established who you are as a company, you need to figure out how that translates to customers. What message is your brand trying to convey? How should people feel when they see your product on the shelves or talk to your customer service reps? Every company aims to “delight” their customers or deliver “100 percent satisfaction,” but generic promises aren’t what makes a strong brand. A strong brand understands the bigger picture purpose behind what they’re doing and communicates those convictions through every touchpoint.
Every single person who works at your company is an unofficial ambassador of your brand–from the CEO to the intern. Even if that person never has direct contact with a customer, they’re still out in the world, meeting people at parties and answering the inevitable question: “So, what do you do?” If half of your employees can barely explain what your company’s about or spend ten minutes griping about how dismal the office culture is, that weakens your brand. Everybody who works for your business should embody your brand, and that means they need to understand and embrace it first. Sending out an all-staff email saying “Okay! This is who we are as a company now. Go forth, and represent us to the world!” is a surefire way to alienate your team. Practice transparency and explain how you came to the decisions you came to, what that means for them and why it’s essential that everybody’s able to get on board.
Building a brand is about a lot more than making a logo, website and packaging–but that doesn’t mean those things aren’t incredibly important. Creating a thorough brand standards guide and consistently enforcing it is one of the most essential steps in building your brand. It might seem minor at the time, but every instance of your logo being positioned incorrectly or your font colors being slightly off weakens your brand’s integrity. Consistency doesn’t just apply to visuals, either. From the content you choose to share on social media to the way your employees answer the phone, it all needs to be cohesive and jibe with your brand. If you have the resources, designating a brand manager within your team is always a smart move.
Want to know more about building a brand strategy as a small business? Drop us a line, we’re always happy to talk!