Your brand is critical to the success of your small business. Whether you realize it or not, clients and potential customers are evaluating your brand every time they come in contact with your company—so the difference between a strong brand and a weak one can have a real impact on your bottom line. Many small business owners feel that “branding” is a complex, expensive endeavor that they don’t have the time or money to engage in. That’s simply not the case. Below are important concepts to keep in mind as you strengthen your brand:
Remember that everything your business does contributes to your brand; whether you like it or not. Did you get mentioned in the local newspaper for donating $500 of used equipment to a charity? Did one of your employees receive an award or certification? How about the review that the local newspaper posted about your services? Each of these events has an impact on your brand—in fact, the publicity that results is likely to be the first time many people hear of your company. Do your best to make sure that you’re always portrayed in a positive light!
Control the perception of your brand in your markets. You obviously can’t control everything that is said or seen when it comes to reviewing your business. But, even if you can’t control it all, you can still frame your message properly within your target markets. If you receive negative feedback or publicity, publicly respond and make it clear that you are working feverishly to improve any problems that may exist. Pay particular attention to the perception of your brand within your target markets, as these are the people most likely to purchase your goods or services.
Personalize your website. Some small business owners think that in order to look like a big business they shouldn’t be “personal.” In fact, many larger businesses do their best to try and look like they are smaller and more personal to capture that hometown feel. If you add a few pages to your website to create a “family” feel you’ll help visitors to feel a connection with your business. In addition, be sure to highlight any causes or beliefs that are important to you and your business.
You can’t completely control your brand perception, but you certainly can frame your business in a positive and a strategic way if you make it a priority. Make sure that branding is on your radar screen whenever you are making strategic or marketing decisions. If you can build a strong brand that resonates with your customers, you’ll have all the work you can handle!