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How to Confidently Build Your Business’s Brand
Congratulations! You’ve launched your own business, joining millions of entrepreneurs who are pursuing their dreams. Your business is growing and so is your customer base. And building an effective brand will help you vault to higher levels of success.
Branding determines how customers think and feel about your company. Entrepreneurs should focus on the “three Cs” of branding: consistency, community, and content, says Cherise TrahanMiller, co-founder of Ashay Media Group, a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary marketing agency. Consistency in messaging shapes how a company is viewed by its target audience, which forms the community for the brand. Content consists of everything a brand shares with its customer base to drive awareness, engagement, trust, loyalty, and at the end of the day, higher revenues.
If you want to build a strong brand, understanding the core concepts of branding is a positive first step. Here are three common myths entrepreneurs have about branding, and the realities that small business owners should take to heart instead.
Myth: A brand is only a company’s visual identity, such as its logo or its packaging.
Reality: While a company’s logo and packaging are branding elements, a brand is much more than that, says TrahanMiller. “It’s important for business owners to understand that a brand is the totality of how their target market sees them, how they talk about them, and ultimately, how they experience the brand,” she says. “A brand is a living, breathing entity that has a soul and a belief system.”
In fact, TrahanMiller outlines five key elements of branding:
- Brand positioning describes what your company does and for whom, how you’re different (value proposition) from the competition, and how a customer benefits from working with you.
- Brand promise is the single most important thing the organization promises to deliver to its customers.
- Brand personality defines your company and what customers can expect from your brand.
- Brand story describes how you communicate the history and value of your brand to your customer.
- Brand association is what customers think of when they see elements of your brand, such as the logo, imagery or tagline.
Myth: Branding is only important for large companies.
Reality: Branding can benefit companies of all sizes, including small ones. A strong brand helps companies establish a reputation, build a customer base and generate value — attributes that enable all companies to succeed.
Myth: Branding is too expensive for small business owners.
Reality: Building a brand is an evolutionary process. It doesn’t happen all at once, but rather in stages, much like piecing together a puzzle. Creating a brand over time spreads out the cost, making branding affordable to companies of all sizes. There are even websites such as Big Brand System and The Brand Stylist that offer free tips and resources to help small business owners build their brand.
“A strong brand improves reputation and creates trust,” says TrahanMiller. And that’s what keeps all small companies in business.