“A brand is a voice and a product is a souvenir.” - Lisa Gansky
For many small business owners, we know what we want to offer before we think about how to communicate that to potential customers. In other words, our product or service comes before our business identity and brand. This isn’t a bad thing, but as your business grows, having a cohesive brand is critical in order to build a customer base and set yourself apart in a competitive market. When your branding isn't consistent, it can confuse potential customers and lead them to doubt what you have to offer. Alternatively, when you have a strong, cohesive brand, it helps you make a positive first impression, stand out from your competition, become more recognizable & memorable, and increase sales.
First, think about what is unique or special about your business. A unique selling point is something that differentiates your business from competitors. Essentially, what do you have or offer that others don't? Your unique selling point is why customers will choose you over other options out there and it represents something that you can build your brand around. It is important not only that you identify what your unique selling point is, but that you communicate it to your audience through your brand identity.
Next: who is your customer? Hint, the correct answer is not "everyone". When you try to make yourself generic enough to appeal to everyone, you can miss being specific enough to appeal to anyone, which can make your branding haphazard and confusing. To start narrowing down your target audience, ask yourself some questions like: "What sets me apart from other businesses out there?" and "Who do I want to work with?" By narrowing down who your ideal customer(s) are, you can tailor your messaging in a way that speaks to them, and build your brand in a way that will continue to add value for them and generate revenue for you.
Third, think of your brand like the first impression that you want someone to have when they encounter your business for the first time. Since there is a good chance this will be through your website or social media, consider how your online presence and communication style make people feel. What message are you conveying with your colours, font choices, and design elements? Choose a few words that you want people to associate with your business (like “fun” or “peaceful” or “adventurous”) and then build your brand identity around those elements.
Fourth, even when you are building a bigger brand online, let your audience see some of your personality, share some behind-the-scenes, and engage in a genuine way to build relationships. Build your brand around your values and what makes you authentically you - after all, this is what sets you apart from everyone else out there. You can't be everything to everyone, so why not just be you?
And finally, it’s important to acknowledge that sometimes it's hard to see what's right in front of you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or feedback! Getting an outside perspective on your branding and what your business has to offer can open your eyes to what your audience sees, as well as how you should best promote yourself. This is why Etched In Marketing developed our On Brand Package: to help small business owners like you identify opportunities for improving the cohesiveness of your brand image and identity.