Your product may be what started you off as an entrepreneur, but it’s your brand that’ll get the customers. It’s one of the first things you must establish once you open your doors.
The sooner you build a recognizable and memorable image for your company, the sooner you can start rolling in customers.
Here are five things you can do to make sure customers remember your business:
Your brand must embody your vision and not a singular product
Your business may only have one offering, but your offering is the functional benefit to your customer. When building a memorable brand, remember that you’re trying to introduce them not only to what you are selling but from whom they’re buying.
This is when you introduce them to your culture and your core principles. It’s is especially true if this is your first start-up, and you don’t have any personal branding or experience to leverage. All you have is your brand.
Think about what you want to do for your customers. How does your product improve their lives? What problems does it solve? How do you want your business practices to affect the world? These questions should help direct the brand-creation process.
Find the company’s voice and community
If you want to make a memorable brand, you’ll need to discover your voice and your community. Maintaining consistency lets your brand create loyalty and trust.
Imagine someone whose attitudes and voice change every time you meet them, someone who treats you differently regardless of previous experience. It could be fun meeting them every now and then just to see who you’re hanging out with, but that’s not someone you can trust.
Remember your voice includes your tone and your message. Figure out your company’s message and sort out how you can deliver that message effectively considering your audience.
Have partners who share your values
Your branding isn’t just about your company and its message. It’s about you. This is especially true for small and mid-sized businesses. How people perceive you will affect how your brand is seen.
Fortunately, it’s easy to align yourself with the brand, or rather, have the brand align with you. What’s not so easy is making sure your visible partners are aligned with your brand.
When you’re looking for partners to help with your company, keep your brand and values in mind. If they don’t align with it, it doesn’t matter how good they are. Their presence can undermine your brand, which often results in weakened consumer loyalty and trust.
Constantly interact with your customers
You’ll be told that one of your core objectives as an entrepreneur is to develop your brand. What many will forget to add is the adjective “quickly.” Much like hitting the market, you’ll want people to learn about and love your brand as soon as possible.
Fortunately, people want to talk. Everyone’s got a story they want to tell. All you have to do is engage them.
It’s a tired message, but it’s still a relevant one: invest in social media. You don’t want your brand to seem distant and unapproachable. Invite customers into conversations by sharing stories and curating relevant items. Let them share their stories with you. How you do that depends entirely on your audience and your product.
The problem many companies eventually face is message and brand drift. Given enough time, you’ll think about improving your brand. That’s great. It’s just like your product — if you don’t innovate according to the market’s development and changing needs, you’ll become irrelevant. If your brand loses focus, it can become unrecognizable to the point of losing customers.
Focus, however, doesn’t mean you can’t change your brand. Your message may not change, but how you deliver it can. Consider your audience. Are their communication methods changing? It could be something as simple as putting greater focus on your Twitter account, but it could also be complicated as a different internal lingo you need to account for.
Your brand is your company’s calling card. Part of your job is making sure the brand is as relatable to your target audience as possible. It’s a difficult but necessary part of running a business.
Dan Natividad, a Stockton native, is a partner at Port City Marketing Solutions along with Kristen Dyke and Erin Diego. Dan can be reached at [email protected]