In this eclass we are going to look at your business brand – what it is, how you can create a valuable brand, and how you can build and strengthen that brand without spending a fortune, so it makes your business easier to sell for a higher price!
What is a brand?
Your brand relates to the public perception of your business. It is how people recognise your business and remember what you do and who you are. The customers (and potential buyers) of a business look for strength in a brand because it gives them security and “safety”.
What do we mean by this?
A brand represents the unique and memorable features of your business. For example, the Coca-Cola brand is associated with fun, youth, spirit and refreshment. When you see that red logo, you can almost taste the product because it is so familiar, so recognisable.
Not all brands are as widely known as this, but there is still value in a smaller business brand. If your business brand is known for something and people trust it, that gives your business value because it reduces risk for a buyer. And by strengthening your brand you can increase the “profit multiplier” of the business when it comes to sale time.
You only need to take a look at franchises to see the power of a brand (along with a great system). Well known and well-branded franchises can sell for for up to 6x net profit, and over $1million for a new store with zero trading history and zero profit!
When developed well, a brand becomes a powerful marketing force that is a magnet for attention – and profits!
Prospects will very often take the shortcut of buying a brand over something else. For example, think of your own shopping basket – what items are in it week after week? Chances are it’s full of the same branded items each time like colgate toothpaste, omo washing powder, heinz baked beans, big red tomato sauce, arnotts biscuits, etc – unless of course you are just shopping on price!
And speaking of price-shoppers – they are not being influenced by branding so may not choose you over the cheaper competition – but do you want them as customers anyway??We suggest not, because someone can always out-quote you on price, so branding is also a powerful way to eliminates the price shoppers from your business and gives your best customers a reason to buy from you.
A brand is more than you think!
Your business brand and image can cover more than just your “stated” brand – that is what’s on your business cards, stationary, your logo etc. A business brand and image is formed from the many details and points of contact that make up your customer’s perception of you and your business. It can include:
Each and every day people are making instantaneous judgements about your company based on your brand and image, so why not create it deliberately? Decide what sort of image you want to put forward and consider that your image should attract those customers you most want to appeal to.
A strong brand can also reinforce the perception that your business is as big, successful or as qualified as others larger and more well established companies. Your branding “flags” like logos, business cards, stationary, signage and websites are all items that you can, and should, plan and control carefully.
WHY A BRAND?
- makes selling easier, faster, and cheaper because it helps gives your customers a reason to buy from you.
- a brand name offers customers stability – they know what they are getting and feel more comfortable, and less fearful
- a brand is a warranty
- in service marketing, almost nothing beats a brand
- a brand instils confidence and reduces the sense of risk on the part of the customer (or buyer)
- a brand helps knock out your competition
But! In small business you do need to be careful of spending too much money and time on building up your business’s brand.
For The 12 Week Turnaround, you can ususally get far more “bang for your buck” by working on the list or systems. However, by going through the process of creating your brand, you will really clarify what your business does, what it’s strengths are, who your customers are and why they buy from you over your competition – all very important information to know.
And you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of time and money to build a solid and valuable brand if you get a bit creative.
In this eclass we will outline the kind of brainstorming or strategic thinking you need to do and then offer some simple ideas and techniques for you that will help create, build and strengthen your brand.
How to create and strengthen your business brand
In a small business you simply cannot afford to spend the money the big companies do. But you can afford to spend the time, the thought, the attention, on the same sort of branding questions they ask.
There are 2 steps to creating your brand quickly and effectively:
Step 1: Find (or create) your point of differentiation or your unique selling proposition (USP)
Your goal is to be distinctive, and convey this to your customers through your branding, because a distinctive business attracts customers in droves and knocks out the competition!
Start by brainstorming your key points of difference. Ask yourself “what makes us different from our competition?” What makes your offerings special, different, unique, or valuable?
If you don’t feel that your business has a point of difference, then you need to find one! Otherwise your customers will only be buying from you based on price, and there’s always someone in the marketplace willing to sell for less than you are.
To be distinctive you have to move away from the image of being merely a “supplier” of products that are available from lots of other suppliers. Such an image sends a clear signal to customers that you are simply “one of many” suppliers to chose from.
You have to differentiate your business. McDonalds sell products that many other outlets sell, but they have created distinctive “hamburger products” with their own brand names, like the “Big Mac” and new innovative lines like “The Healthier Choices Menu” or the “$5 Smart Lunch Pack”. They also have clean toilets, children’s meals and fast service, which made them a clear choice for families back in the days of the “greasy hamburger joint”.
Ask yourself the question, “Why would the competition choose our business over everybody else?” This gives you your USP – or Unique Selling Proposition
You need to get inside the heads of your customers – what are their main needs, wants, fears and frustrations when it comes to the products or services your business provides? What are they REALLY buying? The old example is that they aren’t buying a drill-bit, they are buying the right sized hole.
Sometimes branding ideas can come from the “inherent drama” in your business or service – something fascinating that exists in every product or service. Find an angle in your offerings that others might find dramatically interesting. For example Rice Bubbles – when you listen to them they literally snap, crackle and pop!
Step 2: Create a positioning statement that captures your USP
Once you have decided what makes your business unique, you need to capture that with your positioning statement. A great example is FedEx – their positioning statement is “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”. You immediately know what FedEx stands for, and why you would choose them over the competition.
Creating this statement is a powerful way to get focus in your business. It should be singular – just one simple message so it forces you to stand for one thing, and target a specific niche or market.
Now we’ll look at some of the common elements of a brand and how to create them:
A clever catchy name is an invaluable asset for your business because it gets people talking about you, which generates interest in you, which often translates into sales. The whole idea of using your name to attract customers revolves around peoples ability to remember it, so try and make sure you choose a name that is easily remembered.
Think carefully about creating the brand of your business around your own personal name because for most small businesses this can make it harder when you come to sell. Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer who wants to buy your business called “Johnsons Brothers Butchery”. Unless his name is Johnson, the brand name has no real added value to him as a buyer.
Quick Naming Tips:
Here are some quick tips and ideas to get you creatively thinking about your branding and naming:
- don’t get funny or rude with your name
- generic names encourage generic business people remember things that are unique, sensory, creative, and outstanding. Distinctive names mean distinctive associations, whereas an ordinary name implies just another service.
- how much does your name communicate, how fast?
- To speed up the building of your brand, choose a name that is not easily confused
Your Business Logo
Your logo is a powerful part of your brand because it comes to symbolise the USP you represent. When creating your logo, ask yourself these questions:
- What elements of your business could become symbols for your company? Think beyond words and pictures eg the rising aroma of coffee
- What elements and design represent your USP?
- What colours and design would give your business appeal to your particular market
A logo can help position your business, giving your store or product an image and an easy to remember hook in the mind of your prospect. In today’s society, where you often have only a few seconds to capture the customers attention, a logo can help make the difference.
Logos are great for businesses that advertise a lot because the logo or symbol can jump off the page and make an impact, even if the prospect doesn’t spend a lot of time reading the ad. Once well established, the logo alone can help creates complete recall of the entire position.
But you need to make the judgement call as to whether it is worth it though. Remember, that a quality logo means nothing when you start. It is a blank slate. If you don’t have the marketing muscle to give it meaning, it will remain a blank slate.
Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid:
- Don’t use a cheap, common, old-fashioned, or difficult-to-understand logo. Spend the time and money to do it right or don’t do it at all.
- Make sure the design is transferable to different media including print, video and digital
- Make sure that you stick with it – it takes years to build logo recognition. Don’t change your logo without a compelling reason.
The Quick, Easy Ways to Strengthen Your Business Brand and Image
Most business owners underestimate the importance of first impressions. You need to be aware of this when it comes to branding and image of your own business because people are more prone to make first impressions as snap judgements, and then base all their later decisions on them. First impressions have never been more critical – they take hold very quickly and become the anchors to which you and your business success are tied.
Ask yourself: “What first impression do I make? What’s the first thing my clients see of my business? What’s the first thing I say? The first way I position my business?”
Study and improve your “touch points”, which are the points at which a customer comes into contact with your business – it may be a phone call, a business card, an advertisment, or a sales rep. Ask “What are we doing to make an great impression at every point? Did the client feel respected, amazed, impressed, delighted?”
Personal branding is a powerful strategy for introducing yourself and your business VERBALLY and can best be descibed as your “elevator pitch”.
It is a highly valuable branding and positioning strategy, yet it costs nothing to implement! Introductions are your verbal business card and need to be designed just as carefully as all your other marketing and branding material.
Your first words can make a powerful marketing tool, yet most business owners don’t realise this and lose valuable business opportunities.
To create your “elevator pitch”, you need to be answer the question: “What do you do?”, but not with the standard response “I’m a mechanic” etc. You should plan and create your response carefully and try to include your positioning, benefits and USP.
For example, instead of “I’m a mechanic”, it could be “I help people get the best and safest performance from their cars”. The response you want from the listener is: “Wow, that’s really interesting, tell me more!”
You want to create a clear image of your product or service in the listeners mind, and you want to to touch on a potential need or want as well. And the cost of developing this powerful branding tool? TIME -time to carefully analyse the result you want -time to carefully craft the phrases -time to practise and refine your message.
At first you may not get it right, but keep at it until you find that single sentence that makes a light-bulb go off for people. Then you have brand-building gold!
The power of virtual branding
Branding these days can be much easier with the internet, especially with social media and video online, small businesses can get their branding out there far more cost effectively. The beauty of the internet is that if someone likes you and your business they will spread the word for you very quickly (this can be a double edged sword though because if they don’t like you word can spread just as quickly!)
Many big companies are using the internet to build their brands because it is cheaper and easier than offline media. They use sites like youtube.com to launch their brands and hope the videos get picked up and spread virally across the world. And this is something you can do as a small business too.
Next week we are going to look at how you can increase the value of your business through Intellectual Property – see you there!
If you have any questions please email us at [email protected]
All the best,
MATT AND LIZ