Branding Isn't Just Visual: What New Business Owners Need to Know
What’s in a brand? What does your company’s name represent? Why does it matter so much?
Let’s start with an experiment.
When someone mentions, Mercedes Benz, what words come to mind?
My first thoughts were- expensive, well-established, classy, successful, prestigious, exclusive, status-conscious, quality, best in class, sleek, designer.
It’s not by accident that we associate these words and thoughts with Mercedes Benz. That is essentially world-class branding!
Carefully thought out branding is essential to laying the foundation of your new business. Your brand is the message that you want your audience to hear, see, and ultimately get on board with. Branding encompasses everything from your social media posts to how your employees dress and how your product is packaged-- it is both visual and written.
Your potential customers are deciding if they want to buy from you with the first few interactions or exposure that they have with your brand.
Let’s talk about what your brand needs
Think of your brand as a fictitious character. Great brands have a tone, a voice, and a personality. Your job as the business owner is to first define what your brand’s tone, voice, and personality looks like. And second, your job is to craft a message to your audience that demonstrates that tone, voice, and personality clearly.
The words that you choose to talk about your brand mean everything.
Words are associated with different feelings and therefore teach your audience how to think about your brand.
When a prospective new customer or client begins engaging with your brand, they should immediately be able to understand your value proposition. People trust brands that are honest, open, and transparent about who they are.
Some ways that you can improve transparency in your own brand are to send out consistent communication, develop a strong company culture, admit to and make right on your mistakes, and invite your audience to engage with you.
If you don’t understand your brand, who else will?
Whether your new company is offering a product or a service, the brand needs to clearly and creatively explain a few things to your target audience.
Who: Who is this product or service meant for?
I would suggest creating customer profiles for your top three ideal customers. There are many examples online of what questions to answer when creating these profiles. It is also a great exercise for you to really dig deep into who you are targeting and want to reach with your new business.
What: What is this product or service that you are offering?
Explaining what your product is sounds simple, but there is more to it than that. The more concise you are at explaining this product or service, the better your chances are of reaching your ideal customer and someone who has a higher probability of buying from you. You want to weed out the wrong customers right away—you don’t want every customer, you want the right customers.
How: How is your offering going to help your target audience?
This is important. I’ve seen many new business owners get so wrapped up in their new company or service that they completely forget to create messaging around what the main benefit of this product or service is to their potential customer. If you are struggling with this exercise, read your messaging to a family member, a friend, or someone who doesn’t know your business at all and ask for feedback.
Why: Why should they choose your product or service?
This may be the most challenging messaging you will write in conjunction with your branding efforts. Having a good message for answering why your audience should choose you stems from self confidence in your business as well as a carefully crafted and unique value proposition.
What is unique about your offering? Maybe you can add a free audit before the first call or your product might have an enhancement that competitors do not have.
Don’t forget that your audience has many options. Well-informed consumers are going to be looking at reviews and your proven expertise before deciding to buy or work with you. Is it possible to get testimonials from customers who enjoyed their experience with you? Research shows that today’s savvy consumers trust their peers over a company that they don’t know.
One of my favorite brands is Patagonia. Even if you don’t enjoy playing outdoors or participating in outdoor sports, you know who they are and what they’re about.
Patagonia does an exceptional job connecting with, inspiring, and motivating their fan club. Their fans even help market their brand willingly by using hashtags for Patagonia on adventures all over the world. Why? Patagonia is a high quality product, they don’t try to be everything for everyone, and their brand messaging demonstrates their values in everything they do.
Branding your new business takes a lot of thought, research, and even some trial and error in the beginning, but that’s okay. The long term benefits of creating a solid brand for your new business are what will lead you to making the best business decisions moving forward as you grow and scale your company. Good luck out there!
Meet the Author: Kaitlin Flor
As an undergrad in college, Kaitlin studied Journalism and Mass Communications which made her recognize her love for connecting with people and telling their stories.
For the past eight years she has worked with several small business owners on developing their brands and marketing strategies in industries such as food and beverage, law, event management, and fitness. She also took a stab at sales for a digital marketing agency. Her creative flair led her back to her current gig which is writing and crafting succinct and consistent marketing messages across appropriate media channels for an international manufacturing company.
Aside from work and career, she enjoys burning extra energy through skiing, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and yoga. Kaitlin is a certified ski instructor and children’s race coach and loves coaching her mini ski buddies during the winter weekends.