Top Tips for Growing a Lasting Business Brand
A business brand is the image and personality of the products or services provided by your company. Everything from color, to fonts, to logos, to slogans, to culture and beyond that make your business unique and different in the minds of consumers is a reflection of your company. The trick to effective branding is creating a persona that resonates with your dream customers, is distinctive and compelling in their minds, and consistently reflects the brand’s selected features so as to remain consistently recognizable. The following are top strategies to help you strike this balance and help you create, maintain and grow the best brand possible for your business.
Identify Your Target Audience
Your target audience consists of individuals who will buy your product or service. They often share similarities, such as age, gender, hobbies and interests. It is important that as a business, you are clear regarding the identity of your target audience so that you know how to tailor your brand to the buyers with whom you most want to connect. If you do not complete this analysis, you run the risk of wasting money on advertising and creating campaigns, products, and services that are not appealing to the customers you are trying to entice. You also risk failing to connect with others who may be a good fit for your products or services who were inadvertently initially overlooked. To avoid being unclear regarding your ideal customer, it is important to connect to the marketplace early on.
For example, Spread Your Sunshine initially thought that its inspirational products would best appeal to professional women who want to use our stationery, positivity cards and other gifts to uplift, celebrate and encourage their colleagues and friends. Originally, we did not consider that young girls may also enjoy using our products to spread positivity to their principals, teachers, coaches and other people in their lives. This additional audience was discovered at in-person markets where our Team interacted with buyers. Through these conversations, it was learned that some of our biggest cheerleaders are parents who want to teach their children social and emotional intelligence and elementary-aged kids who want to spread their sunshine. With that knowledge, our branding was expanded to better appeal to the parent-child demographic not previously considered.
Not only should your products and services be tested with your target audience to ensure a segment of the marketplace was not overlooked, you should also do so as soon as possible to best ensure your company’s success. “According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20 percent of small businesses fail within their first year. By the end of their fifth year, roughly 50 percent of small businesses fail. After 10 years, the survival rate drops to approximately 35 percent.” One of the top reasons for this failure rate is that companies do not know what their customers like about a product or service, would change, and so on. In fact, companies that are overfunded can fail just as easily as ones that are unfunded, as overfunded companies risk investing more in their products or services before bringing them to the marketplace for sale and thus feedback. If the company incorrectly dedicated its resources due to lack of customer interaction, it may not have sufficient remaining capital or investor buy-in to correct the issue. Thus, again, the key to successfully determining your target audience and accompanying branding is to test your theory directly with consumers at an early stage in your business.
Be Consistent on All Platforms
Once the branding you will use to connect with your target audience is determined, it is important to use it consistently so that consumers distinguish your brand from those of other products and services in the marketplace. For example, consider a can of Coca Cola – it is always red, featuring the company’s distinctive font, and flowing white/silvery ribbon down the side. A customer would never confuse a can of Coca-Cola with, say, a can of Pepsi, which also has its own unique branding. Applying this distinctive branding concept to your company, you, too, want to be so consistent with your company’s brand that your customers will instantly connect with your products and services.
One of the best ways to achieve consistency is to develop a branding guide that includes your font, color, etc. selections for both internal and external use. For example, Spread Your Sunshine created a document that provides the names of the two fonts we extensively use, the exact pantones of our company’s colors, files to our design backgrounds, hashtags we use on social media, and more. Our Team frequently references these materials when completing a project in-house and also provides such information to third-parties like graphic designers. By ensuring that all parties who complete branding work for Spread Your Sunshine use identical selections, we ensure brand consistency across our products and services that helps our community easily connect with us.
Use Multiple Forms of Advertising
Once your brand is established, flaunt it! Consumers connect with companies in different ways. Whether it’s through personalized give-a-ways at conference events, paid online advertisements, articles, webinars, keynote speeches, or magazine ads, it is important to diversify your marketing to connect with your audience in different ways. This is especially true given that on average, a customer must connect with your product or service eight times before buying it. You therefore want to create various opportunities for the consumer to interact with your brand to convert them from a potential customer to a paid sale.
The forgoing said, different forms of advertising work best for different companies and different target audiences. For example, there would likely be a low ROI if a tampon company paid to be the presenting sponsor of a men’s conference since men do not use feminine hygiene products. While somewhat of an extreme example to illustrate the point, not all advertising is created equal. It is therefore best to try different forms of marketing, analyze the sales that develop from each opportunity, and then exclusively focus on the advertising that generates the highest return for your specific products and services.
Always Market, Always
Marketing is a tempting place to reduce overhead costs. Before you reach for your redline pen, however, consider the importance consistent branding has on the survival of your business, especially in times like the present Coronavirus pandemic. An often-cited business case is that of the marketing strategies of Post and Kellogg’s during the Great Depression. In the 1920’s, Post was the king of ready-to-eat cereal. When the Great Depression hit, however, Post significantly reduced its advertising budget. At the same time, its rival, Kellogg’s, doubled its marketing, heavily investing in radio advertisements and introducing a new cereal, Rice Krispies, with the famous catchy phrase “Snap, Crackle, Pop.” As a result of their differing strategies, Post struggled to maintain its market share. Kellogg’s, one the other hand, realized increased profits of 30% and became the ready-to-eat cereal leader, a position it has maintained for decades.
Present day, Spread Your Sunshine experienced a similar phenomenon. At the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, our Team’s resources shifted from heavy investment in the sale of our inspirational products to preparation of materials like articles and webinars to educate our community. The changed marketing scheme produced correlating results – our prominence in the educational world soared while our product sales dwindled, especially when compared to competitors who doubled-down on product-based outreach. Was our strategy a mistake? Not necessarily, and especially not if our Team enjoys educational work and such services produce profits equal to or greater than the profits we would have realized from product-based sales. It is, however, a question we must analyze, as like shown throughout history, each decision made regarding marketing impacts the bottom line. It is therefore important to always remain focused on effectively advertising your brand to continue thriving in your industry.
Final Thoughts to Build Your Branding Empire
When I first started my professional career, people often said, “Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” At the time, the phrase was irritating, as I wanted immediate gratification, not to work on some long-term goal. Over time, however, the saying grew on me, as did its meaning, which seems especially poignant when addressing business branding. The businesses that last are those that are committed to the long haul. Becoming an industry icon does not happen overnight. Rather, it involves hard work, listening to your audience, pivoting when necessary, digging deep when times are tough, creating a respectful and grateful company culture, and building a solid reputation over time. Apply this long-term mindset when creating your business brand and you will truly create a company of the future.
The ideas herein are ones that have helped our Team and we hope they help you build your business brand, too. And, we know YOU have additional tips to best empower the Spread Your Sunshine community. Share your advice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or messaging Spread Your Sunshine on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter. We love hearing from you, as together, we perform our best.
© 2020 Spread Your Sunshine, LLC