Your business brand is responsible for cultivating first impressions, building recognition, growing your reputation and authority, and securing the trust and loyalty of your clients.
Without a strong brand foundation, it can become difficult for your business to stand out from the competition and lead to rough travels on the road to entrepreneurship.
When starting out, your resources may be limited and unfortunately, most small businesses end up missing some of the most important steps or altogether skipping the brand process, which is, in my book, a mistake.
Let’s talk about some of the hazards of not having a brand…
Having a shaky or non-existent brand
Most entrepreneurs think they can either skip branding all together or go somewhere cheap online and get a logo and set up a quick website and they are ready to roll.
What do you think when you are handed a self-printed or templated business card? What happens when you visit a website that looks outdated or DIY?
You risk your potential customers judging your ability to provide a solution to their problem and others defining your brand for you. So, you can either let your brand be developed through online customer reviews or you can take the wheel and drive your business brand yourself.
When you don’t start off with a brand, it makes it hard to be consistent with your business and online marketing. You won’t have a foundation to refer to and therefore you’ll appear haphazard or even unprofessional.
One of the most important factors for business success is consistency across every marketing channel: your print materials, your website, your email and social media marketing, your social media image and posts, and your blog articles.
By being consistent, your customers can become more familiar with your brand and therefore you can slowly establish recognition and trust.
Having a copycat brand
When developing a new business, it might be tempting to look at other companies for inspiration, including competitors and entrepreneurs you admire. But in doing so, you take a chance of looking and sounding just like them.
Differentiation is the key to a profitability and sustainability. When potential customers see brands as interchangeable, they make purchase decisions based primarily on price. That means lower profit margins for you and a more difficult time charging what your services are actually worth.
By determining what makes you different, you are able to stand out from your competition and charge premium prices.
Forgetting the message
It’s easy to think branding is all about the visual elements such as the business name, logo, tagline, and color palette. When it comes to your website, you might have the look down, but a lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of either sounding like their competition, being all over the place with their message, or worst yet, they provide too much information.
However, without a strong, clear and concise brand message, you run the risk of your potential customers not being able to determine why they should choose you over your competition.
Not identifying a target audience
Many entrepreneurs start out thinking it’s better to cater to everyone. What a better way to get more business, right? Wrong! When you try to communicate to everyone, you end up with a message that resonates to no one.
Determining a target market helps you hone your message and tailor it to those you really want to work with. The goal is to make it easy for your potential clients to determine if you are the right fit. This saves you both a lot of time and trouble.
Not narrowing focus
Chances are, if you’re really good at something, you’re also probably pretty good at other things too. Most people know a lot of stuff and think it is a good idea to sprinkle all sorts of services into their offerings. I’m sure you’ve seen them. The ones that have a website full of a multitude of services.
So, what happens when you visit a website like that? I can’t speak for everyone, but personally I get lost rather quickly in the sea of credentials and services. After I start to glaze over, I typically leave the site and go back to search for another specialist that’s got a clear service page and an easy way to work with them.
When you specialize, it helps you stand out and be remembered. Not only does that help you to be seen as an expert in your field, it also assists with word of mouth referrals. The more you specialize and are seen as the go-to expert in your market, the easier it is to charge premium prices for your services.
Still concerned that narrowing your focus is going to hurt your chances? Maybe this will help...
Your potential clients are busy and self-involved, and they’re not looking to spend lots of time figuring out what specific aspect of you is relatable and interesting to them. If they don’t believe that you can help them or they can’t figure out why to hire you over the competition, they won’t hire you. Plain and simple.
In conclusion, a successful business launch requires more than just a minimum effort. Just like coming up with your business idea, name, and services; investing in your brand foundation takes a good amount of time, thought, and preparation. It might cost money you don’t have readily available or think you should spend on something else, but in the long run, you’ll have much smoother travels if you begin with your brand foundation.
VAROOM! Brand Design offers brand foundation assistance with their brand design packages. Find the right REV UP package to fit your needs here.
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Car naming is an automotive topic that has always intrigued me. I had an aunt that always named her cars. Because of that influence, when I got my own, I did the same and still do to this day every time I get a new ride. BTW my car is a silver coupe called Luna (yes, I’m a Harry Potter fan from way back!).
Like naming your car, it’s popular to come up with a business name when you are starting out on the road to entrepreneurship. But nowadays there’s a new debate on whether you should use a personal name for your business or create a business name.
When deciding between the two, there’s bound to be a little anxiety. What should you do for YOUR business?
Don’t worry, I am going to break it down for you so you can decide...
The Pros & Cons of Creating a Business Name
The Pros & Cons of Using Your Name
A personal story, and no it’s not about my black coupe I named Elvira...
When I started in the graphics business some 20 plus years ago, it was all the rage to create cool and rememberable business names. So when it came time for me to go out on my own, I decided to go down that road myself.
Looking back, I still like what I’ve created. The logo is fun and says so much about myself and my services, but I think I would have gone the simpler route had I known how hard it is to stand out online these days.
I’m not saying I don’t get discovered with my unique business name and the way I present and position myself online, but now that I know the importance of a personal brand, I have to do double duty.
I have my business branded website and social media accounts AND I have my personally branded website and social media accounts. And I share and post on all of these platforms.
Think about when you give out a referral. Are you more likely to remember a business name or a personal name?
Hands down, a personal name attached to a service business goes so much farther these days.
Not only that, but if someone is referred to you, they are likely to go online and check you out. And if they do, what are they going to see?
Is it going to be your name in the default search body copy linked to your company website or will it be a picture of your latest dinner on your personal Facebook page? Or worse yet, someone else with your name?
All of these scenarios are not ideal if you want to be seen as the face of your business and get the reputation that you know your stuff and are the perfect match for that referral.
So, which way should you go?
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong approach. Some people love having their businesses named after themselves and experience wild success in doing so, while others reap the benefits of using a business moniker.
I have a solopreneur friend that would love to hire someone to do her website, but at the moment she cannot afford to do so. Though she’s not trained in website design, she makes it work. Recently she decided to change platforms and totally started from scratch on a new website. While she was hard at work, her husband watched how the site progressed. When she showed him her finished creation, he told her that she ought to think about designing websites for others.
Let me tell you, she was not amused with her husband’s suggestion. Why? Website design is not remotely related to her current business platform. Out of necessity, she has taught herself how to manage WordPress and this new platform. Not only is this the farthest thing from her mind, but it took her a couple weeks to set up the site on a drag and drop platform. Bottom line, she was utterly exhausted.
Laughing at the thought of her husband’s suggestion, she shared this story with me and asked what I thought as a professional designer. I carefully explained that though I had no doubt she could set up websites for others, as she’s clearly demonstrated she has the skills and the gusto to figure it out, but I pointed out that having a website design is just one piece in the bigger picture of a business brand.
Anyone with enough tenacity to tackle their way through all the ins and outs of a website builder can set up a website, especially with the innovations in drag and drop platforms. But the bigger question to ask is will that website work for your business?
If you are not setting your website up with the brand in mind, your site is just that…a site. It will be about as useful as those stacks of business cards left on the counter near the cash register of your favorite local restaurant.
9 Reasons Why Branding is Important to Your Business & Your Website
Have you ever landed on a website and immediately felt confused or overwhelmed? This is the result of a poor branding foundation or a lack there of.
Brand building is an integral part of your business’s presence. Your website plays an important role as it gives visitors a first impression about your brand, your products and services, and what potential customers can expect from you.
But it is not the first thing you should be concerned about when it comes to having a successful business. That’s where branding comes in.
1. Branding Helps You Stand Out
In today’s global market, it is critical to stand apart from the crowd. How do you stand out from the thousands or millions of similar businesses around the world doing the same thing you are doing? A strong brand foundation where you determine your ideal client, your target audience and your niche will help set you apart and make your site more memorable.
2. Branding Improves Your Recognition
People tend to do business with companies they are familiar with. If your brand identity and your brand message is consistent and easy to recognize, it can help people feel more at ease purchasing your products or services.
One of the major components of a brand identity is the logo because it’s what people instantly recognize. This is why a professional logo design should be powerful and convey in a graphic way, the energy around your business and services, making an impression on a person at first glance. Having a strong brand foundation in place assists and supports the logo, making it not only recognizable but memorable.
3. Branding Tells a Story
A brand that is consistent and clear puts the customer at ease because they know exactly what to expect each and every time they experience the brand.
In order to put your customer at ease, you need to create a direct and simple message of WHY your brand should matter to your customer. Most people don’t have the time or inclination to figure this out on their own. Your brand must create a story that answers the question, “Why you?”
4. Branding Creates Credibility
Having an established and clear brand will make you look like an expert. If you know what you’re talking about and come across as a professional, people will be more likely buy from you.
5. Branding Creates Trust & Loyalty
Having a consistent brand foundation and a well thought out brand identity instills trust in potential customers. Without trust, they most likely will look elsewhere. Brand building is the best way towards winning customers and sustaining their loyalty.
Once you have your brand foundation in place, you can create your brand identity and then your website. The website features the same look and feel of the brand identity, reinforcing the sense that you are a reputable, consistent expert in your field, creating trust.
Not only that, but purposeful branding will make you proud to share and market your business. If people see that you’re confident in what you do, they’ll be more likely to trust you and your expertise.
6. Branding Creates a Platform to Charge What You’re Worth
With a solid brand established, you will come across as a professional and therefore you can charge like one! If you show that you produce high quality work or products, clients will be more likely to value what you offer and pay higher prices for it.
7. Branding Generates Customers & Referrals
Branding is one of the best ways to get referral or word-of-mouth business. If you deliver what your brand promises, your customers will remember you. Your clients and audience can be the best form of marketing. If they ever need your services or products in the future, they will think of you first and will most likely refer you to their friends.
8. Branding Creates Consistency
With solid branding in place, you can easily keep things consistent and make decisions more quickly when it comes to your customer experience. You won’t have to constantly question yourself on the little things.
9. Branding Provides a Clear Strategy
It’s very easy to wander around from marketing idea to marketing idea with nothing to guide you. Having a clear brand foundation and strategy helps you stay on track and will guide your marketing efforts saving time and money. It will set the tone for everything you do. With a strong strategy in place, you can refer back to it and make sure that your products and services are in line with your brand’s message and goals.
Established branding will make it easier to introduce new products or services, too! If you already have loyal customers and a strong brand, it will be easier to introduce new products or services. Your audience will already be interested in what you do, so they will be more inclined to accept, participate in, or celebrate the new things you are offering.
Long Story Short
My friend is not going to be setting up websites for a living. She’s going to stick to what she does best. She quickly saw that if she had a brand foundation in place, it would have saved her a lot of time when setting up the new website because she struggled with what to keep, what was important and how to organize her site so that her customers know exactly why she’s the one for the job.
Having a strong brand foundation in place before you get to the website design will not only help you set up your site more quickly, but it will also give you all the vital information you need to hone in on your target market, rise above the noise, and attract your ideal customers more easily.
Amanda Johnson Young is a brand designer with over 20 years experience. READ MORE
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