Building a new or maintaining an existing small business is never an easy task. We don't have all the resources to do what the big businesses do but have the same aspirations of success and growth. We have to take that leap of faith that we will succeed, get over the fear of failure, and initially we start every day off knowing that failure could be around the corner with one simple and honest mistake. Each day we persevere and see that failure grows farther in the rear-view mirror as your business continues to grow.
Branding is for everyone
Having a small business doesn't mean you cannot grow to be a world-famous household name. It takes work, years of work, but you can grow to have a strong brand name within the markets you want to be in. We run into businesses all too often that they initially felt too small to brand or that it costs too much. For a nationwide, even regional, plan it can be expensive. We know this. This is one reason we align ourselves with small businesses with BIG aspirations. We want to see them grow, grow with them, and be part of their success. To do this we always start small. We start with their logo, colors, etc. This is the building blocks and foundation for everything that they do,
There is more though to having a brand than just a beautiful logo and a catchy slogan. Your brand should encompass everything that your company does, exemplify what you do, and should bring out your company culture. Doing this will help people become loyal to your brand, refer friends, family, and business acquaintances to your business.
Defining your brand promise
A promise is a powerful statement that you convey to those that you understand their needs, that you can help them solve their problems, that you respect their time, and that you are there for them. This promise is something tangible and is based on something they will know it's true. Your promise is something that you can prove, is grounded in our culture, and philosophy and atmosphere of everything you do. The promise that you give is what builds the loyalty you need with your customer's to survive not only during the good times but the bad as well. This promise will keep them loyal to you and not go to a competing brand.
Everything that you do to market your small business should reflect this promise you make to your customers.
Creating a brand promise
Your brand promise needs to come from the heart, be meaningful, and something your entire company can stand behind and known for. When creating your promise, it's as simple as defining why your customers choose your business over any other business in the same industry. You want this to be as clear, specific, and concise as possible. The clearer you make your brand promise the better it will be understood and resonant with your customers.
Target your brand appropriately
As you build your brand you have the choice of the shotgun approach of targeting everyone on the planet. We strong encourage our customers to NOT, NEVER, DON'T DO IT, to our customers. You are just starting out. You are defining yourself. You will have some fine tuning as you go (never settle for what you've started with – always grow). You want to market your brand to those your brand is focused on serving. This will allow you to target a smaller subset of the population and make it a lot more palatable to achieve.
What if you don't know who your target market is or does truly cover everyone? That's always a tough one that some of our clients run into. In these circumstances what we do is take a phased approach and target from the highest to lowest in terms of profitability as well as positive exposure for the brand.
Be different while also being yourself
When it comes to your business you need to be sincere, honest, fair, and yourself. If you have to present yourself as something you are not, you almost certain that you will fail. If you've been honest with yourself from the start this will be the easiest part of your brand as there is nothing to do but be who you are. Let your style and culture shine through in everything that you do.
By being yourself you will differentiate yourself from any of your competitors. It could be in your style, speak, customer service, or even cost (this should not be your core focus to undercut your competition as you will most likely go out of business). All of these can differentiate you.
Know your competition
Knowing your brand is truly important. Knowing your competitors brand is equally important. Hopefully you've researched all of your competition before you even began creating your brand so that you know how you are different and how you provide value to your customers.
Know your weaknesses
We all know deep down we can't know everything. That is why there is more than just us on this planet. It also goes that together we can be stronger. You don't want to be a jack of all trades and the master of none (unless you really are promoting yourself as a jack of all trades). Focus on your strengths and be mindful of your weaknesses. Know how to accentuate your strengths while addressing, not down playing, your weaknesses. Be humble and sincere in all of your customer interactions.
Let your personality shine through
As a big corporation has culture one item many can lack due to sheer size is personality. Being a small business can actually make you bigger than your larger competitors by your having a personality can more easily shine through to your customers. You need to celebrate what makes your company different. Stick with it and showcase what makes your great! By focusing on your personality, letting your expertise shine through people will remember you a want to do business with you.
Consistency is key
When we build a new website for a client we look that there is consistency between all of the pages. You don't want someone to have to re-learn your website every time they go to a new page. You want them to get the information they need, solve their problem(s), and move on as they have a busy schedule just like you do. If you make things hard for them they are more apt to go elsewhere for the information.
When you start thinking of consistency there are a lot of items you need to think about beyond just a logo. You have your business cards, email, website, flyers, letterhead, envelopes, building signage, social media sites, text messaging, and more. Everything that you produce should sound as if it is coming from a single voice speaking for your company even if it's being delivered by more than one member of your team.
When you are working on your content and information that you present to your customers keep key information consistent, reuse key phrases that are unique to your brand, products and services. Use these in your website, social media, your email signature, flyers, and more.
Conversations end, dialog continues
When you talk with a customer with a conversation they all will end. Whether it be a phone call, email, or an in-person meeting; they all end. When you think of longevity and getting your name, brand and information out there you want to have a dialog as those last and continue after a conversation.
There are many ways to keep the dialog going with customers without talking to them. You have social media, your website, email marketing, text marketing, and even good old fashioned postal mail. With our blog article here you are learning aspects of who JM2 Webdesigners from Northwest Indiana is. You would think a company in Northwest Indiana might not have a huge voice compared to someone in Chicago Illinois. The location of where you are physically located is not important when it comes to the realm of the Internet. We are all neighbors and our brand can travel far, cost effectively, and to more people than you can realize.
JM2 Webdesigners has a very strong customer service focus. Every step we take requires us to not only think about what are current clients want and need but also the clients we are looking to add. When we do this we look at providing even greater value to them without charging more. That alone is a monumental task and one we strive at on a daily basis. That is one of our brand differentiators when it comes to our competitors. If what you offer is something that is similar to that of others look at how you can differentiate yourself and taking care of your clients is a great way to do that.
Branding is not as hard as some may make you think
Yes, it takes work. Anything worth getting takes work, a solid commitment, and an understanding. This also doesn't mean you should go it alone. When you have more than one person working with you the sum of their parts almost always will add up to more than they would individually. When branding and working with a company that is dedicated and will to work with you the entire process will get that much easier. It still isn't easy but it also is not insurmountable either.
There is so much more we can write about branding and can talk with you for extended periods of time on it. The first step you need to do before or if you are already in business is decide that you want to brand your company and want it to grow. We see companies all the time that spend all of their marketing might on a beautiful logo and let the rest falter. Make certain to look not just at today but down the road as well. Rebranding is almost certainly going to happen but is not something that should happen right after you brand. Take your time, do it right (or don't do it as they say), and move forward with a plan for the success of your business.
If you would like help in branding your company and gaining a company that will align themselves with you to achieve your success JM2 Webdesigners from Northwest Indiana may be the right company to work with. If we're not, as our “Rule #1” says we won't lie. We've told companies we were not the best fit. We do this as we want every client, even those that don't join us in our Valparaiso (Valpo) office and part of our branding is “no lying”. Your success is our success. We would love to hear from you at , email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through our online contact form.