As owners, we wear many hats throughout the day and night. Strapped for cash and time, many small business owners go the DIY route: assembling a mishmash of images and graphics, whipping up a website and some messaging and combining disparate images in order to start selling. The focus is on getting it done and getting started on sales. After all, that is where the revenue is generated, right?
Audiences make meaning of everything
When we market, we are communicating. When we communicate both intentional and unintentional messages, our audiences are in turn generating emotional responses and automatically developing perceptions—our brains are designed to do this.
These meaning-making events are experiences with our brand. These brand experiences happen right from the start with our target audiences, our competitors and in our industry landscape. Branding later is not an option.
Without clarity and a focus for messaging, small business owners use images, language and content that are not on strategy. Sending inconsistent, mixed messages with the wrong signals generates unintended perceptions among prospects, wreaking havoc on our businesses.
Flip how you see brands and branding
Usually, as business owners, the way we think about brands is upside down.
When we define our brand as our branding —the logo, colours and images, we are really talking about our design and implementation. In this definition, branding’s role is a support to marketing, not a business driver.
Small business branding is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Investing time to ensure clarity and development of a professional business brand is essential. A brand is the critical business driver to all communications, and it’s what impacts every aspect of the business.
Try this on: Flip the concept of strategic branding is a part of delivering the marketing and sales strategies, to being a top-line business communications strategy – one that is defined by the business model.
This flip unleashes the brand to be an appreciating asset that you should protect, nurture and help evolve. This is why you hear big brands speak of their brand as their most precious asset. It is the same for the small business owner.
The brand strategy aligns with business strategy, and when clearly defined, it easily informs all internal and external communication strategies. It develops and cultivates meaningful relationships—internally, with leadership, teams and talent partners, and externally, with prospects, customers, the industry, influencers, investors and the media.
The exciting news
Even companies with the smallest budgets can define their brand, design a brand look and feel and develop key messaging. This lets them resonate with and inspire their perfect customers, and successfully deliver experiences that cultivate connection and community, close big business, foster relationships and create loyal customers. Now that’s branding.
By adding in one critical step to the process, you’ll be on your way to a knockout brand and branding strategy. By inserting the clarity component to the front of that train, you will transform your business and your brand, not to mention your profits.
Every small business owner must prioritize the investment in branding as part of business ownership. As a business grows and matures, brand evolution is part of the business plan.
With your design plan, you now can develop your assets. What’s brilliant is you can develop it right the first time. Build the assets, platform and tools with an investment that is right-sized for your stage. Even the smallest budgets can develop on-brand messaging. Just be sure to remember these key points:
• Free tools and resources are great; it’s how you use them that matters.
• Less is more. Invest in the primary assets, and add as you go.
• Level up your communication assets as you level up your business.
Branding is not about you; it’s about a relationship with you. It’s about hosting interactions with you that are valuable. Shift from selling to engaging with your audiences. Adopt the mantra it’s not a transaction, it’s an interaction. This doesn’t cost anything.
• Smile. Even when you’re only on the phone, or in a webinar.
• Be interested. Care about customers, their goals and their journey.
• Respect them and treat them well.
• Think about how you can surprise them.
How you engage with your audience is your brand. The way you interact and how you make them feel is your brand. Your brand lives in the hearts of your customers.
Deliver extraordinary experiences. Wow them, care about them, and they will love you back
Text wrote by Kerri Konik – you can check more information about this blog here