Here’s the thing: branding matters. But your brand isn’t just a logo or the pretty colours that come with it.
Your brand is your currency. It’s how your customers think about you, what they expect and how they talk about you. It’s how you tell the world who you are, and why they should care. Getting clear on your brand is one of the most important – if not, the most important – things you can do for your business. But for many small business owners – branding can feel overwhelming and mind boggling. Where do you start? What matters most? There’s no quick fix, are five top tips to help you build your brand to something that people understand, know and love.
1. Be real
There’s no doubt we’re living in a time when we’ve never been more visible – or had to be – when it comes to our business. With so much competition out there, it can be hard to stand out. And when you run your own business, it can be equally as hard knowing just how much to share and where to draw the line.
I’m sure you’ve heard the words ‘be authentic’ over and over but there’s a reason for it. For many small business owners and entrepreneurs, your business comes from you. Which means it’s important to spend some time understanding your values and beliefs, your strengths and weaknesses, and your dreams and goals. Your brand is often an extension of yourself when you run your own business. It can be uncomfortable, even scary, and vulnerable to put yourself out there, but remember that people connect with people. Don’t be afraid to get to know yourself better and share parts of yourself with the world – by showing up, you’ll start to build the kind of loyal, engaged customers you dream of.
2. Know your story
There’s no better way to say it than with this quote by Simon Sinek: ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ Do you know why you do what you do? Do you know why your business really exists? You’ve got to get down and dirty with the big stuff. You’ve got to be clear about why your business exists and why people should care.
What do you stand for? What do you believe in? What are your values? Your story is the foundation that will help you understand who you are as a brand. It will help you speak to the right customers, know when and what to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to, and attract the right employees. It shows people why you’re different and helps them connect with you on an emotional level. And your ‘About Us page’ is one of the most important tools you have, to share that story.
If you don’t know your ‘why’, take some time out from working in the business and invest in working on the business by finding it out.
3. Know who you’re talking to
You just can’t speak to everyone, and you shouldn’t try. By trying to speak to everyone, you’ll end up speaking to no one. Successful brands know who their target customers are and they know them best. They speak to them with confidence and they spend time building those relationships with a strong understanding of how they can help those customers solve a pain point or move towards an aspiration. Create clear customer personas that describe your target customers – who they are, where they hang out online, what their pain points and aspirations are, what might stop them from engaging with you.
When you’re clear on who those target customers are, consider them when you’re making decisions and when you’re creating content for your business. If you’re writing a blog post or creating copy for Instagram or Facebook – who is it for? Why should they care? What are you giving them? Don’t just put things out there for the sake of it – make sure your content is meaningful and has a purpose. Quality over quantity always.
4. Give, give, give
You have to earn the respect, trust and loyalty of your customers. You can’t ask for something – whether that’s a sale or a newsletter sign up – without giving something first. Great brands give their customers much more than just a product or service.
Think about your brand and business. What knowledge could you share? What could you create? What could you give your customers that will add value to their day? Could you add a little surprise to your online orders? Or create a blog series of juicy, valuable and inspiring content? Could you send them curated playlists or fun downloadable to their inbox and turn your emails into the ones they look forward to every week?
There are so many ways that you can share your knowledge, energy and time with your customers. When you do, you’re not only strengthening that relationship, but you’re also positioning yourself as an expert in that field and as a business and brand with something to say – and something that people will come back for.
5. Be consistent
There are a lot of touch points to consider when you’re thinking through your brand identity. If you had to describe your brand in three words, what would they be? Write them down.
Now, consider those touch points. For example, your website, product, service offering, copy, design, logo, colour palette, fonts, packaging, tone of voice, visual merchandising, store design, social media channels, email marketing… When you think about those touch points, are you delivering on the three words that you came up with above? Is your personality shining through at every step of the way? What is the overall experience for your customers? How do they feel when they interact with your brand? Make a note of where you feel you’re nailing it and where you feel you might be lacking and consider how you could improve in those areas.
The goal is to present a clear, consistent and authentic brand that paves the way for connection, loyalty and beautiful, healthy, long-term relationships. When it comes to great brands, people know what to expect. Know who you are (see tips 1 and 2), share that with the world, and be consistent. The details matter. Your brand is made up of many different touch points and channels (your social media, website, packaging, emails and more), but you can’t communicate effectively on any of those channels if you haven’t got clear on your story, purpose and values first.
Take action! Looking at these five tips above, what do you feel you need to explore further and take action on? What one thing are you going to add to your To Do list this week?
NSW largest gift & homewares trade exhibition, Reed Gift Fairs Sydney February will be holding a number of workshops this month on building your brand and sessions tailored around social media and other mediums used to help grow your business.
REED GIFT FAIRS SYDNEY FEBRUARY
23-27 February 2019
ICC Sydney Exhibition Centre
Free registration | Trade only
Only $40 per workshop. Due to limited seating, workshops sell out fast. Don’t hesitate to secure a seat.