A brand is not just a name. A brand says everything that you want to about you and your business. Your ideas, standards, and what you can give to your client.
Think about the top brands in the world, the likes of:
All of them are so much more than just a name. Just saying each one conjures up a whole host of images and perceptions about those companies. The two most important aspects of your brand are undoubtedly your name and your logo.
But, once you have these down, how then do you make your public aware of you? How do you create the sort of associations with your business name and logo that you want people to have? In short, how do you create your reputation?
First things first, you must decide how you want to be seen. Write down a brief overview of what you feel your core values are. What do you want to be known for, and how can you help your potential clients?
What makes you stand out from your competitors, what will make people come to you and not them? Once you have that list stick to it like glue; every piece of marketing and advertising that you do, make sure that you can relate it back to your core values.
Now you have completed this exercise, you are ready to move on and build your brand and following. You can do this by:
- Being consistent – Never stray from your core values. Certainly don’t change them half way through. Stay on message at all times. There is nothing more confusing to clients than a business that is constantly changing its point of view or focus.
- Service – Where you are a sole trader, or a small business employing a few staff, remember that service is everything. Harry G Selfridge, American founder of Selfridges & Co, understood this from the outset. ‘The customer is always right’, and ‘Give the lady what she wants’ are two or his more well-known quotes. Understand your customer, and then give them what they want every time. It will keep them coming back, and will be the difference between them recommending you or not. If you employ staff, then make sure that they understand your company’s core values. They represent you, so make sure they do it well.
- Network – Your clients won’t come to you, you need to go and find them. Depending on your business, this may be online, or in the real world. Either way, you need to engage them. They need to know that you understand their problems and can solve them. If you need to print business cards, or other marketing gadgets, then do so professionally. Home-made business cards may save you money, but at the end of the day, they look home-made and don’t give the right impression.
- Slogan – Decide on a slogan, something that is short, catchy and sums up your business.
Think of some of the more famous slogans:
- When it absolutely, positively, has to be there.
- At work, rest or play.
- Soft, strong and very long.
Did you get them all? This is what you want from your slogan, that instant recognition of your business.
Elevator pitch – Your elevator pitch is so important. Once you are in front of potential clients you need to be able to answer the one question they will have, ‘What do you do’? Do you stumble over your words at this stage, with a confusing, impromptu summary of your business, or do you have an eloquent, clear, concise story to tell them?
Of course it takes time to build your brand and reputation. It takes time for people to know who you are and what you do. But, if you get your branding right at the start, then you will have a strong foundation on which to work.