How to Brand
This article was really tough to write. My favorite thing to do when writing a “how to article” is to break everything down into sections; nice, neat little piles of organized information.
The problem is that branding is more of a holistic technique. Branding has to encompass many elements that all work together to create a meaningful mark in the minds of the buying public.
Branding has to be at the root of ALL your marketing efforts. Branding has to emanate out from every pore of your business. In my efforts to organize information, I have broken down branding into 7 elements. My suggestion is that you analyze the 7 elements, if you feel that you are weak in one element then follow up with the resources provided. However, at the back of your mind, realize that all the elements must work together to create a business presence.
What is a brand?
A brand is a mark that you sear into livestock with a hot poker; that mark identifies which animals belong to your ranch. If you’re a marketeer, you may have come to think of branding as a mark that you sear into people’s minds and hearts that identify your product, services or company.
Elements of your Marketing Plan you can use to create a successful brand:
- What do you know about your Industry?
- Where does your company fit into the Industry?
- How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
- Who is your target?
- How does your product satisfy your target’s needs?
- Slogan or Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
- Does your USP deliver one, strong BENEFIT to your target?
- Does your USP tell people what You can do for Them?
- Does your USP eliminate the competition?
- Does your USP imply that you are the ONLY solution that your target will need to solve their problems?
- What images or ideas does your logo conjure?
- Does it deliver a clear message?
- Does it deliver a message that is consistent with your USP?
- Customer Service Policy Do you have systems in place to handle Customer Service Issues? Topics might include:
- billing and payment services
- how you will handle customer complaints
- first contact with a customer
- how you answer the phone
- How does your price compare to your competitor’s price?
- Are you using pricing to imply quality?
- Are you using pricing to imply cheapest price?
- Trust and Credibility
- secure online shopping
- guarantee or warranty
- build a community
- are you looked at as an expert?
- do you provide information to your clients freely? (This is a tough issue, you do want to provide some information, but you may need to have limits – you don’t want to give away the store.)
- the Web is a great place to provide information and to make your business look credible. It can start with the little things like a professionally designed web site and move up to providing resources like online manuals that show how to use your products.
- Marketing Strategies (how you will build awareness of your brand):
- Direct Mail Marketing
- Traditional Media Advertising
- Training Programs
- Become an Expert
- Direct Personal Selling
- Publicity and Press Releases
- Web Site
- Internet advertising the last article detailed these strategies.
How can a business build a brand?
First, you have to determine your niche market. You need to study the competition and find out where you should be “positioned” in relation to them. What are you going to offer the target market that your competition isn’t offering?
For a small business, the best approach is to find a product or service, and make the product or deliver the service in a different way than everyone else. This could involve a number of strategies including customer service policy, pricing, delivery, production… We covered several of these in our article 20 Ways to Beat Your Competition
You can begin to build your brand with that one strategy that differentiates you from the rest of the competition. Take that strategy and build a USP, design a logo, use it to determine how you will develop trust and credibility, even use that strategy to develop your customer service policies. Then take it out to the public and build your brand awareness through marketing strategies. Your brand culminates in building loyalty in the hearts of your buyers.