When starting a new entrepreneurial endeavor, branding determines how your business is perceived by a consumer, positions your product in the market, and differentiates your business from competitors. The identity you create for your good or service is often a major factor in its success. Here are seven steps to a successful branding strategy:
Identify Your Target Audience
Before you start branding, it is essential to complete a market analysis of your goods or service, study the attitudes of the consumers in this segment, and then determine your ideal customer. When developing your ideal customer, consider their demographics, their motives, their needs and wants, their buying tendencies, and their goals. Everything you implement in your branding strategy needs to reflect the desires of the buyer. Usually, using a customer-driven marketing strategy is helpful for a business that is just starting out.
Develop Your Mission Statement
Next, consider why you are starting your business, and why anyone should buy from you. What makes you different from someone selling the same product? This is what will fuel your mission statement. The mission for your business must be written with the customer in mind; you want to appeal with what they want to hear (based on what you determined in your target market analysis), but you also want to put your motives into it. An example of Apple’s mission statement is here.
Your mission statement must not be too direct with your goals. Obviously, one of the goals for a business is to make money, but you should never reveal this to the customer. Instead, describe your business’s values and goals in three to four sentences.
Decide Your Brand Identity
Based on the needs and wants of your ideal customers, along with your mission and values, you will form a branding identity. This includes colors, logos, fonts, imagery, the tone of voice, the messaging, the calls to action, and the design. All of this needs to be consistent across all channels of marketing. The brand identity is what customers will recognize you buy, and a consumer will often make quick judgements based on your brand. For example, Apple’s branding strategy communicates ideas of elegance, well designed products, innovation, modernity, power, and the future; because they know these are the qualities their customers respond well to. When crafting each element of your brand, put yourself in your ideal customers’ shoes and ask, “would I buy this?”.
Build a Website
The first marketing channel almost every business needs to brand is the website. Your website is often the first point of contact for potential customers, and often customers will click off your site quickly if it does not speak to them. Your website needs to reflect your brand identity and strategy, and needs to provide all the necessary information about your business. Each page must be designed with what your ideal consumer wants to see, and every page needs a call to action. This could be to sign up for emails, place an order, ask a question, make a reservation, or click to a new page. It is important to urge the customer to perform your desired task as much as possible to increase your chance of making money. You want your website to be easily navigable, uncluttered, and findable through search engine optimization.
Creating a website does not have to be difficult and you do not have to do it from scratch. Some great website builders that can be affordable for a new business are Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, or WordPress.
Start on Social Media
It is essential (and easy!) for every business to have a social media presence. It is best to start off with choosing 2-4 platforms that are best suited to what your target audience uses. For example, you should not be creating trendy TikToks if you create products for senior citizens, and it would be more appropriate to use Facebook. In order to not waste your time, determine what platforms your target market uses, and identify what types of content is most beneficial to them. Do they want to read infographics on Instagram about your non-profit, do they want to watch long-form Youtube videos about your tutoring business, or do they want to click on creative Pinterest pins for your knitting business?
Once you have determined the best channels to reach your ideal customers and the type of content they want to see, create a posting schedule to stick to. You can find out more about content creation and planning here.
Create a Network
After establishing your brand and you have chosen your channels of marketing, next start to build a network of other business owners you can learn from. Try to surround yourself with people who align with your values and mission. Having a strong support system can help with feedback and overcoming obstacles you might encounter when starting a business.
Adapt and Pivot
As you continue to run your new small business, make sure to monitor and adapt to how customers are responding to your branding. Create a set of metrics and key performance indicators that align with your marketing goals. By tracking their performance month to month, you can analyze the growth of your business, and see what is working and what is not. It is essential as an entrepreneur to be open to change. More often than not, you need to make mistakes in order to learn. Make sure to keep an open mindset to all the possibilities, and do not be afraid to pivot in a new direction.
A Message From The Author: Natalie Ward
As an entrepreneurship minor, intern for the department, marketing major, business consultant, and having started multiple small businesses, I have learned first hand how essential branding is to your business. How a customer perceives you is a huge determining factor in how they choose to interact with your business. Additionally, as a consumer, I value how much a brand’s image resonates with my personal values and goals. The most important tip I can give is to always integrate your branding into every part of your business, no matter how insignificant it may seem.