Developing a strong brand identity for your business is an extremely important factor in its success. Effective branding can help build your reputation, make you stand out from your competition and project your values to attract your ideal client.
Your brand is your business identity – the image you wish to portray to the world – and is one of your company’s most valuable assets. Although your visual brand identity is important, your brand is more than your logo. Your brand communicates your business personality and shapes your clients’ perceptions of who you are. Your brand should project the expectations and promises you extend to your customers in terms of quality, service, reliability and trustworthiness and create trust and loyalty from those who do business with you.
A strong brand identity helps the audience differentiate you from your competitors and can positively influence their purchasing decisions, directly impacting your profitability. But there are several myths and misconceptions that small business owners believe that can get in their way of developing a strong brand identity.
Myth #1 – We can design our brand ourselves
We have all experienced the effects of a do-it-yourself brand. What do you think when you are handed a self-printed, black and white business card? What happens when you get to a website that looks home made? People will judge your ability to provide the solution they are seeking based on their first impressions of your business, both online and off. Don’t risk turning away potential clients with an unprofessional brand.
Myth #2 – We can’t afford to have a professional brand developed
Having your company brand professionally designed costs money, but it may cost your business more if you do not have a high-quality, visual identity. The visual representation of your identity is something that takes a skilled resource. Creating a logo that is not aligned with your vision, values, target audience and positioning could cause confusion in the market. For example, if you provide quality services with attention to detail, your lack of attention to detail in your brand will send a conflicting message to your prospects.
Myth #3 – We don’t need a brand
Since more people search for products and services online, you absolutely need a quality visual identity for your web presence. How do you represent your business online without one? And whether you have developed a professional brand or not, your business has a brand. Your company name, how you deliver on your promises and what your customers say about you when asked creates an impression of what it is like to do business with you – and that, my friend, is your brand. You can let it be developed for you through online customer reviews or your competition, or you can take control and manage it to your advantage. Your choice.
Makes your company look bigger
When prospects see a professional brand consistently used on your business cards, website or social media profiles, they get the image of a company that deserves their business. Prospects look for a company that has the resources to help them succeed. They will also expect to pay more for a more established company. If you hand them a home made business card or your web presence is unprofessional, they will think you are small and not worthy of their business or the fees that you feel you deserve.
Creates an identity that is bigger than you
Many independent professionals that offer consulting or coaching services end up building a brand around themselves rather than the business. If your goal is to become a public figure, that may be fine. But if you want to separate the business from you for future growth or sale, develop a brand for the company. A unique brand will be one of the assets that come into play during the sale or acquisition.
Builds loyalty and trust
One of the ways you can separate your business from the competition is to have a unique brand that differentiates you in the marketplace. A strong brand that conveys your values builds an emotional connection with customers, which will attract them to your business if they share the same values. This type of connection makes it easier for you to develop a long-term relationship with those customers, leading to greater customer loyalty.
You may be the best, most experienced person in your field, but no brand or a self created brand conveys an impression that the company won’t last. A brand helps you develop an image for your business that says “I’m here to stay”. A well-defined brand identity projects a long term feel to those who see it regularly. Eliminate any question about your viability by having a crisp image and clear messages.
Makes your business memorable
Developing a brand identity and using it consistently helps customers remember who you are. The more your prospects see your brand, the more likely they will contact your business for information. Every time you get to interact with your prospect, you have a chance to make a connection and create a memorable brand experience.
Shows commitment and personal pride
Investing in a unique brand identity shows that you take pride in your business and are committed to success. Customers will believe you are more likely to deliver on your promises to them because a business that invests in its success will under promise and over deliver, creating more brand loyalty and trust with every customer interaction.
Tips to take control of your brand identity
- Create your visual identity that aligns with your vision and projects the company your target audience wants to work with
- Monitor your online reputation so there are no surprises. Ask happy customers to provide reviews on Google, Yelp or other review sites that cater to your market niche
- Deliver the experience your clients expect for each and every interaction they have – from the website, customer service, phone conversations and emails sent. Treat customers how you want to be treated if you were a customer.
- Network and expand your visibility in your community and on social networks. Building relationships is paramount to brand building and the best way to do so is to help people in ways that set you apart.
Remember, if you have a business, you have a brand. What you do with it is up to you. If your brand aligns with your vision and focuses on the needs of your target audience, it can help attract the right client to your business.
Want to see some great examples of brands that work for the business? Check out 25 Powerful Examples of Corporate Branding from Leading Startups.
Has your business taken control of its brand identity?