Having a successful business is all about bringing in customers, which requires some type of branding and marketing. Branding is just as important for small businesses as it is for big corporations.
The term ‘branding’ is tossed around often, but what exactly does it mean? According to the Design Council, branding is about associations that are made with a company, product, service, individual or organization. These associations may be intentional or otherwise, meaning they may be actively promoted via marketing and corporate identity, or outside the company’s control; such as negative press.
BlackEnterprise.com wanted to uncover one surefire branding technique or strategy for a small business/startup. The following answers were provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free, virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Here are some tips for branding success:
1. Make Good First Impressions. Startups often scrimp on marketing elements, and it is much better to do less and spend more to make a good first impression. Also, many companies put the cart before the horse and focus on tactics before strategy. Really understand your value proposition and ensure everything you do connects back to that core. Also, ensure the tactics are high-value and look professional.
2. Take Care of Your Customers. The least expensive way to get the word out about your brand is by focusing on your customer’s experience. It seems simple, but you’d be surprised at how many companies don’t put customers first. When customers feel well-taken care of, they tell others about your company. Customer testimonials and referrals that are genuine get more attention than anything else.
3. Use Facebook Re-marketing and Interest Targeting. Facebook ads allow small businesses to reach new interest-based audiences at more manageable prices than Google AdWords. Well-executed Facebook ad campaigns can have CPCs that are significantly lower with higher conversion rates. If the KPI is branding, then Facebook can expose your business to a large number of people, and when you combine it with re-marketing, you can gain instant visibility.
4. Look at Your Brand as a Magnet. Your brand is your opportunity to communicate who you are in a way that is designed specifically for your target client to hear you and fall in love with you. Your choice of color, shape, and text will subconsciously communicate a mountain of information. Embrace that opportunity from the get-go, and you’ll not only accelerate your success, but also improve the effectiveness of every marketing dollar you spend.
5. Get a Mantra. A mantra is an extension of your brand; it’s what you stand for. It communicates to both your customers and employees what your company is about. At Men’s Style Lab our mantra is to create effortless style. This is in both our tagline and our core values. If the things we do don’t make style effortless, than we’ve lost focus on our customer experience (brand), and we’re wasting our time and energy.
6. Be Consistent With Your Branding. If you’re going to brand a certain way, whether it’s fonts, colors or typography, stay consistent throughout all branding efforts — and stick with it.
7. Craft an Elevator Pitch. When you’re first starting to promote your startup, the best way to do so is through word of mouth — your mouth. When you attend networking events and expos, make sure you have a consistent elevator pitch for the various clients or consumers you hope to attract to your business.
8. Be Yourself. When our company first started off, my business partner and I hid our biggest asset, which was a crazy, fan-girly passion for music. We didn’t want to seem overzealous or unprofessional. However, we one day realized that this was what made us special and started being ourselves in our pitch meetings. This is when our business started to exponentially accelerate.
9. Put the Customer First. The way to get the word out about your brand involves focusing on your customer’s experience and putting the customers first. When customers feel well taken care of, they tell others about your company. Customer testimonials get the most attention.