Building a brand is essential for small businesses hoping to thrive in a competitive business market. Because consumers are still pinching pennies and looking to stretch every dollar, today’s market is as competitive as ever — but a brand can be used to effectively explain to potential customers what you and your products provide as well as how you and your products differ from those offered by competitors.
When building a brand, one of the first things a small business owner must do is define his or her brand. Defining a brand is essential, but it isn’t always easy. The following are a few tips to help small business owners define their brand.
* Understand and explain your mission. Small business owners clearly want to make money, but the mission of your company should go beyond padding your bank account. This mission should define the company’s reason for being. Try to write why the company exists in a few short sentences and then ask others in the company to do the same. For example, if your company is making an eco-friendly alternative to a popular product, then explain that your mission is to provide consumers with eco-friendly alternatives to traditional products. Explain your philosophy and keep in mind that your mission might change as your company evolves.
* Explain why your product is beneficial. Another step to defining a brand is to explain why it’s necessary. This includes describing the your company’s product’s features and services provided. You want to separate your product and your company from its competitors, so be as specific as possible.
* Know your customers. It helps to know who your customers are and what they want. Thanks to the Internet, customer feedback and consumer opinion is now easier to attain than ever before. While direct feedback on your product is beneficial, you can also visit online forums in which consumers discuss their experiences, both good and bad, with other products and other companies. Use that information to your advantage and never assume you know what your customers want. Understanding your customers is an ongoing process, as their needs and wants are likely to evolve over time. Stay on top of knowing what your customers want so you can continue to meet those needs.
* Think about what you want your company’s reputation to be. Branding also involves managing your company’s reputation. You want existing customers to react positively when thinking about you, your company and your products. Courteous, attentive and professional customer service goes a long way, as does adhering to your company’s mission. You not only want customers to be return customers, but you also want them to speak positively of you to their friends and family.
* Seek help. Defining a brand isn’t easy and if you’re struggling to turn a great product into a successful brand, then don’t be afraid to seek help. Many communities recognize the important role small businesses play in a local economy and such communities routinely host small business forums and discussions aimed at helping small business owners thrive. In addition, seek advice from established small business owners in your area, who might be able to share both their good and bad experiences and help you avoid certain mistakes they made when starting out.