Image is everything. This isn’t just the case in your personal life, but in business as well. The way customers look at you is vital towards longevity and extended success. As an emerging small business, it may seem complicated, an uphill battle at times, to establish your brand image. However, with the right practice, you’ll not only grow your brand image, but position it as a symbol of respect and admiration within your community and industry.
Understand Who and What You Are
Before you can take a step forward to build your brand, you need to take a step back and look in the mirror. What do you see? Who and what is your company? What kind of demographic, realistically, do you seek? You need an identity. The problem many companies run into is that businesses attempt to wear too many hats. They try to be the kid in high school who wants to hang with the jocks, the art kids, the math geeks and the marching band kids, but end up not fitting anywhere. Sure, you probably would love for your business to connect with every demographic, but that simply is not going to happen (at least initially). So understand who you are, what your business is, your demographic and how you want to be seen. Then, and only then, can you begin to build and polish your brand. After all, you can’t create a unified, strong company brand that is easily identified if you can’t even look in the mirror and easily identify what your business is.
Unify Your Marketing Approach
A unified marketing approach is a key to growing brand recognition. Your entire marketing effort, from print advertising to social media, TV spots and pay-per-click ads all need to share a similar look and feel. Over time, viewers of your marketing will begin to recognize your company and your services based on your image and context recognition. When you try to utilize multiple looks, you’ll fail to grow your brand because people simply won’t connect one advertising spot to another. Successful marketing campaigns are built on recognition. So before you try to polish up your image or boost visibility, make sure everything has a unified appearance.
It sounds easy, right? The more visible you are the easier potential customers will recognize you. Well, if it were easy, everyone (or almost everyone) would do it. Problem is, you probably don’t have the marketing budget of a McDonald’s or Nike, so you can’t just plaster billboard after billboard and TV spot after TV spot with your content. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to boost visibility, regardless of the marketing budget.
Social media accounts offer a great way to connect with potential customers. So for starters, make all your accounts public. You’ll want to create accounts on different services as well. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn only provide so many options. Services like Pinterest and Instagram are great for showing off products and giving behind-the-scenes insights. If you have insight and want to provide how-to information consider adding a blog and YouTube channel to your mix. The more visible you are to the outside world, the more opportunities you’ll have to grow your brand.
Beyond social media, take part in industry conferences and network while attending these different events.
Social Media Is More Than Marketing
This is another area where far too many companies fall flat. These other companies view social media as a means of advertising and that’s it. Here’s the thing about that: Consumers don’t want to bog down their social media feeds with advertisements. Why would they want to follow, friend and subscribe to you if all they see is an ad for a new product or a pitch as to why your company is better than the rest? This isn’t to say you shouldn’t market your company, but you shouldn’t use social media as a 100 percent marketing outreach channel.
Consumers do want to work with professional, high-end companies, but they also want to know they are working with human beings with personalities who are not stone cold entities. Feel free to show the real you and those who work for you. You’re not a robot or a cold-hearted corporation. So share pictures from your casual Friday events and feel free to add in the occasional joke. The fast food chain, Wendy’s, has grown a massive social media following, which has, in turn, led to an increase in sales, because of its snappy, witty posts, proving that consumers want a friendly face, humor, and entertainment. That alone may be enough to grow your brand imagery.
Grab Their Attention and Provide Value
In the modern, digital world, a consumer’s attention span is minimal at best. In fact, the average attention span is eight seconds (New York Times, 2016). That is less than a goldfish. This means you need to provide not only instant, attention-grabbing information, but information with value. Grabbing someone’s attention and maintaining it is, while related, two different ideas entirely. It is why movies always have some sort of an attention-grabbing opening within the first 10 minutes. The idea is to draw you in and grab hold of you, so you become invested and don’t mind the slower, story-building material following the instant gratification of the first portion of the movie.
Everything you do and every bit of marketing needs to grab a viewer’s attention, but once there, you need to offer value. Once the potential consumer realizes what they are seeing may, in fact, prove useful, they will investigate further. Plus, by following through with the previous steps of maintaining a universal appearance and marketing approach, it becomes easier to recognize your brand, which is helpful not only for the consumer who saw your marketing initially, but for the people they talk about your brand to.
How Are You Different
What makes your business different? How do you standout from the rest of the crowd and offer services unlike companies around you? There is a reason why you are in business and strive to do what you do. Whether it is using fresh, locally grown produce or hand making all of your clothing in the shop, identify what makes you different. Now, include this information in your marketing. The entire purpose of advertising is to stand out, grab the attention of consumers and to draw them in. Why would someone want to go to your storefront or your website when they can go somewhere else and pick up products through a service provider they have known and used for years? Be unique.
Take what makes you different and use it to your advantage. This is a great way to establish your brand. You have already created a unique, uniformed method of advertising that shares your imagery, color palette, and logo across all of your advertising methods. Now you just need to indicate what makes you different. With so many different service providers out there offering the exact same thing, a consumer is more likely to remember you for what sets you apart.
Just about everywhere you turn, someone is looking to make money. From someone on the side of the road to the extra guac you receive on your burrito, very little in life is free any longer. That is exactly why you need to provide some of your own knowledge for free. Create a blog or a YouTube channel (or both) where you share insights, offer how-to articles and provide helpful information a consumer can use.
You don’t need to give away trade secrets, but by providing information to a consumer, they become more likely to trust you and to turn to your business. This develops a bond between you and your customers. It also grows your client base as more people can find you online (thanks to having more blog posts and videos for search engines to crawl and source). By including your marketing information within the posts, you’ll grow your brand and demonstrate your knowledge at the same time.
Over time, these blogs and videos will grow your brand, your leads list, and your client base. You can also make some extra cash off of the posts and videos thanks to advertisements placed on the pages. There’s nothing like getting paid while you grow your business at the same time.
Establishing and growing your brand image is an essential element to building your corporate brand and connecting with more customers. It doesn’t matter if you are a small business, emerging company or one with years of local experience . . . by taking advantage of these tips on building and polishing your brand image, your company will begin to see an increase in attention from potential customers. This, in turn, may grow your number of leads and help increase the bottom line. No matter your current industry or how long you’ve been in business, take advantage of these suggestions and you’ll reap the benefits sooner rather than later.
What is the brand image you're trying to build? Would you recommend any additional tips for building your brand?