In today’s saturated markets, it’s easy to find dozens of businesses that offer similar products or services to our own.
So the question then becomes, how do you differentiate yourself? How do you make yourself stand out from the sea of similar businesses and drive customers towards you, and not the competition?
The answer is simple – stop being a business and start being a brand.
Why would you want to be a brand?
Businesses don’t inspire customer loyalty, businesses don’t have fans, and they don’t start huge discussions or touch thousands of lives. Brands do.
When we talk about being a ‘brand’, we mean the perception of your business in the eyes of the public. It’s what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name. It’s everything the public thinks it knows about your brand offering, from the factual (that it comes in a bright red box with a glittery bow) to the emotional (it’s a romantic gift for a lover).
But your brand only exists in the minds of your customers, and that’s a very powerful thing. Branding improves recognition of your business, creates trust in your customers, supports advertising efforts, generates buzz around your business and even brings a financial value by itself.
But how do you turn your business into a brand?
Always put the customer first
The single easiest way to build a successful brand is to put the customer at the centre of your services. Happy customers are more likely to talk about their experiences and rave about your brand, building up a positive identity around your business.
If you focus on satisfying your customer needs, delivering fantastic products or services, you will be creating a good reputation for yourself and your business. Good branding starts with good reputations and good customer stories.
In terms of marketing, this might mean re-orienting your mindset. Ask yourself, are you engaging your customers and delivering value, or are you just marketing to them?
Are you really putting yourself in the shoes of your customers, designing your services to fit their needs, ahead of your own?
When you start thinking like this, you take the first step to building a brand.
Before you can get people talking about you and sharing your story, you need to be visible. That doesn’t just mean having some social media accounts or occasionally publishing an advert in a magazine – it means investing some real time and effort into presenting your brand to the world through a number of channels.
It also means interacting with your audience actively, not just waiting for them to come to you. You also need to take a look at the quality of your marketing communications and make sure it showcases the value and quality of your brand.
That’s everything from your business name to your logo, the quality of your content and the imagery you use.
As mentioned, there are hundreds of other businesses out there doing what you’re doing. But being different can be a powerful thing.
For example, there are dozens of companies selling ice cream. But there’s a reason Ben and Jerry’s is one of the best-selling brands.
They have taken the time to really hone in on their customer’s reasons for buying ice cream, and then developed a unique voice to reach them. So think about what your brand voice is, and if it is as unique as you are.
If you create a brand voice that is really, truly unique, you will find you draw customers in very quickly.
Be consistent and clear
Successful big brands are built on consistency. Their approach to marketing and business is carefully thought out, and all of their activities follow the same set of guidelines.
They are clear about what their business stands for and what their voice is, and that flows through everything they do. That voice and approach never changes.
To build a successful brand for your business, you need to be clear about who you are, what you do for your customers and how you present that to the world.
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