As a small business owner, your brand is the vital bridge between you and your customers. You want to do all you can to engineer that bridge so it is effectively funneling in leads.
To continue with our metaphor, all bridges must first close the gap between your customer’s needs and the services you offer. First, we will look at how to build your brand so that it experiences continued growth successfully. But, before we cut the ribbon, we need to have our business identity established.
You can’t reach out convincingly to potential consumers of your product if you don’t have a definitive identity. This sounds obvious, but it reveals one of the main reasons businesses fail to get off the ground after five years. If a business isn’t completely sure who it is and what it offers, there is no way customers will feel confident about consuming their product.
To get into the specifics, it is not enough to say, “my business identity is a coffee shop. I provide coffee to patrons.” A Keurig or Aeropress provides coffee to people. Why should they come to your business? Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks provide quick and easy coffee, snacks, and meals. Why should a consumer go to your coffee shop when they can get a completely predictable product from a well-established vendor? It is not enough to simply be a coffee shop.
Who do you want to be drinking your coffee? What kind of atmosphere do you want to create for customers? What kind of community do you want to build in your coffee shop — if you want a sense of community outside of coffee?
Do you simply serve coffee, or are you looking to fill another business niche? You need to ask yourself and your team questions like this if you are to know exactly who you are as a business. Of course, business identity will grow and evolve. It certainly shouldn’t be static. It’s essential, however, to keep your identity in perspective when making business decisions regarding branding, marketing, and other critical business practices.
Businesses are like people in that they must change and adapt to survive. However, through the process of growth, that kernel of self-identity remains in contact with its past as well as its predicted future. That’s why you should…
Perhaps the most crucial part of building a brand for your small business is aligning your business identity with particular character traits, values, and beliefs. You want to personify your business so that potential clients, customers, or patrons see your business as relatable, emotive, and actively shaping the environment in which it is situated.
You want your customers to develop a relationship with your business as if it were a person. The type of relationship varies based on your business model, business identity, and target customer. Despite what form the relationship takes, you want to strive for an emotional connection with your customers.
Establish a company culture that rewards behavior that aligns with your brand’s character traits, values, and beliefs. Each team member should be a “walking avatar” of your brand. This doesn’t mean they all have to act alike.
Rather, they should embody the values and characteristics associated with your brand. By that definition, that could include rugged individualism. By embodying an individual spirit, your team members would be embodying your company’s culture if that was part of your brand.
Most customers are looking for consistency when trying to establish a relationship with a business. Much like with any personal relationship, customers will come to expect consistent behavior and messaging from your business’s brand. You should take steps to ensure your marketing outreach remains consistent with your business’s values and characteristics. Customers need to hear your business’s brand talking to them.
If a close friend or coworker is acting oddly or behaving in a way that goes against their character traits and values, you pick up on it right away and know that something is off. So it follows that if you’ve gone to great lengths to establish a personal relationship with your customer base, they will be perceptive of any outreach, marketing, or messaging that is inconsistent with what they’ve come to expect from your business’s brand.
Most business owners are aware that they need to trademark their logo and other marks representing their brand. However, it is also a good idea to protect your web content. If you want to ensure that your content is protected from your competitors or content thieves, you should register your web content under the DMCA or digital millennium copyright act. The DCMA is a leading figure in copyright infringement enforcement.
Globalization is a process that will not be slowing down anytime soon. As economies become more and more integrated into an interdependent framework, bad actors in states with lax laws might take advantage of your business’s name and reputation. This is especially true for web-based small businesses that are not geographically restricted to a brick-and-mortar location.
About the Author: Veronica Baxter is a writer, blogger, and legal assistant. She writes on behalf of the Law Offices of David M. Offen, a successful bankruptcy lawyer in Philadelphia.