Your Brand – Why it’s important to your small business
Developing a brand can be one of the most difficult steps when setting up a new business and its importance can quite often be overlooked. It’s easy to think that brands are something that belong to big companies with big budgets. You might think that branding is just about coming up with a logo and some flashy business cards. But think again. Branding is important for any business, regardless of size. And it’s much more than just your logo.
When I set up Aliciam, I knew that my brand was important. My brand was what was going to get me recognition, my brand was going to communicate my skills and personality and set customer expectations, my brand was going to create an impression on consumers and help distinguish me from my competitors. My brand was going to be a true representation of who I was as a business, and how I wanted to be perceived.
Brands build trust and the old adage, ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’, is so true when it comes to you and your brand. So, make your brand one that will set you apart, build trust and reflect who you are.
What makes a brand?
Before you begin to build your brand, you need to understand what a brand is and how it is created.
In a nutshell, a brand is a promise that you make to consumers. This may surprise you as most people think of a brand as a logo or product’s name. Although these things form part of the brand they do not create a brand by themselves. The brand and the promise is made up of a number of different components including: your actions, customer service, visuals, expectations, reputation and your employees. If any of these elements fail to meet up to customer expectations, then this can have a negative affect on your brand and affects trust and your reputation.
Creating your brand
When you are creating your brand, you need to think about what promises you are making. The most successful brands are those built on authenticity, integrity and honesty – you can’t be something you’re not!! And if you are trying to be something you are not, customers will soon see through you.
The first thing you need to think about when creating your brand is your own values. If your brand does not reflect your own values, you will find it hard to get consumers to trust you and you will struggle to meet customer expectations. Your values will act as guiding principles for your brand and will help dictate what your business looks like and how it behaves. For example, if your values are fun, family and consistency, make sure that your brand/business reflects these.
To get a sense of your core values, ask yourself what’s important to you, what activities do you enjoy doing, or what couldn’t you live without. What gives your life meaning and what do you strive for?
Once you have identified your core values you can develop your company Mission Statement. A Mission Statement is a statement that summarizes your vision and what your core values are. Your Mission Statement should outline what it is your business does, who you serve and how you serve them.
Having a Mission Statement is not only useful for you but it becomes extremely important when you start to employ staff. Your Mission Statement will help communicate your vision to employees and give them a purpose. The most successful businesses ensure that their employees’ vision and values are aligned to that of the company.
You now have the foundations of your brand.
Building on the Foundations
Only once you have identified your core values and you have defined your vision and mission, can you go on and build the visual identity for your business. Remember, in order to build trust and to be authentic, you need to ensure that your visual identity matches your vision, values and mission. Ensure that you use these to brief any design agency and, continuously, refer back to them.
Are you Delivering on your Brand Promise?
So, you have identified your core values and vision, you’ve come up with your mission and have created a visual identity for your company, what next? As mentioned earlier, your brand is the promise that you make to all stakeholders. Stakeholders will only be satisfied if you deliver on everything you promise. If your brand promises quality, care and value, make sure that every touch point delivers on these; from every piece of communication, to the way you answer the phone and the customer service you deliver. A brand that promises fun, vibrancy and energy is going to deliver a very different service/product to a brand that promises seriousness, corporate and methodical.
What does your brand promise?
Aliciam Marketing Consultancy can facilitate your branding brainstorming session, helping you put together a branding strategy that won’t disappoint.