Branding Your Business
© 2002 Elena Fawkner
If you think only big corporate names need to think about things like brand names, think again. Your brand says a lot about you and your business, and that's as true for a one person home- based operation as it is for a multinational conglomerate. In this article we look at how creating a strong brand for your business can help you set yourself apart from pack and lay right foundation for future growth of your business.
WHAT IS A BRAND?
Your brand is more than just logo on your letterhead and business cards or your business name. It is your corporate identity. An effective brand tells world who you are, what you do and how you do it, while at same time establishing your relevance to, and credibility with, your prospective customers.
Your brand is also something more ethereal. It is how your business is perceived by its customers. If your brand has a high perceived value, you enjoy many advantages over your competition, especially when it comes to pricing. Why do you think people are prepared to pay stupid money for items of clothing with initials "CK" on them? Perceived value. Perceived value as a result of very effective brand promotion resulting in very high brand awareness.
Now, I'm not saying we all need to rush out and start creating brands that are going to be recognized world over. Most of us simply don't have time or other resources necessary. What I am suggesting, however, is that it is possible for your brand to dominate your niche.
WHY DO I NEED TO CREATE MY OWN BRAND?
We touched on this in previous section when we looked at what a brand is and how it can be used to increase perceived value of your products and services. The main reason for creating your own brand is to differentiate yourself from your competition. New websites are a dime a dozen. So are home-based businesses. You need to constantly be looking for ways to set yourself apart from your competition. Your brand can do that for you.
=> More Effective, Efficient Marketing
Another good reason for creating your own brand is to make your sales force (even if that's a sales force of one - you) more effective and efficient.
Imagine if you didn't have to spend first 50% of your time with a new prospect explaining who you are, what you do and how you do it. What if your brand had already communicated that for you? You can spend 100% of your time focusing on sales rather than educating your prospects about your business
Another benefit of branding is that efforts you expend increasing your brand awareness through promoting and marketing your brand to your target market automatically transfers to your products and services. So, even when you're advertising your brand, you're indirectly also marketing your products and services.
HOW DO I CREATE MY OWN BRAND?
OK, so you're convinced you need to create your own brand. Where on earth do you start?
We saw earlier that your brand needs to say who you are, what you do and how you do it. It needs to do all these things at same time as establishing your relevance to, and building credibilty with, your prospective customers. Needless to say, it is absolutely essential, if you are to build your own brand, that *you yourself* have a firm grasp of who you are, what you do and how you do it. If not, you're going to have devil's own time getting that message across to anyone else, let alone establishing your relevance and credibility.
=> Write A Mission Statement
So, let's start by creating a mission statement. What is mission of your business? Obviously you're in business to make a profit. But making a profit is a byproduct of a successful business. Focus instead on how you choose to achieve that profit. What are your core values?
A good place to begin thinking about your mission is to put yourself in shoes of your customers. Put yourself in their target market. Let's say your business is web hosting. If you're in market for a web host, what things are important to you? Different people will be looking for different benefits but you can bet that they want their website to be accessible to site visitors so reliability will be high on their list. Price is also likely to be high on list as is 24/7 technical support. What about add-on features such as unlimited email aliases, cgi support and what-not? These things will be highly important to some and less important to others. So focus on benefits that are likely to be highly relevant to majority of your target market. Let's settle for our purposes on reliability, price and technical support.
Your mission statement might read something like this: "I strive to earn a fair return on my investment of time and money by providing affordable webhosting with guaranteed 99% uptime and 24/7 telephone technical support". That's a pretty general statement and if you decide to focus on a particular niche of webhosting market, such as small business, you may want to more narrowly focus on that group in your mission statement.