Creating a strong brand is one of the many challenges facing micro businesses, and it is also a key element within the business plan. So it is important to implement a brand strategy that is focused on the long-term success of your company.
Many micro business owners spend little time focusing on a brand strategy as they may feel other areas of their company are more important. Making time to understand how branding can work for your business and developing a strong presence in your prospective market is one of the most important decisions business owners will make.
Branding is THE most powerful tool of communication and should be treated as such. Getting the design of your brand right is crucial in delivering a strong message to your target audience.
Defining Your Brand
There are many elements to consider when creating your brand, for example:
- What’s your USP (Unique Selling Point)
- How do you stand out from your competitors?
- What is the personality of your brand?
- What is your vision for your business?
- What are your values?
How do you incorporate these answers to produce a visual representation of your brand through a logo? The main points to consider are:
- The Name: Choosing a strong name is fundamental to a brand’s success. Keep it short and punchy where possible, make it memorable and contemporary yet with an eye on the future. Your brand name and identity should be just as strong over a long period which gives you ample time to generate brand awareness and a solid foundation for your business.
- The Design: It is essential that you employ an experienced designer with proven expertise in company branding and understands visual impact on consumer perceptions to work with you on developing your brand. The designer will help with choosing typefaces, colours and graphic elements that can be put together to generate a strong balanced brand.
- The Strapline: Your slogan that accompanies your logo design is a statement that describes what your brand is all about. For a slogan to be effective, it’s important that it doesn’t carry a confusing message and is clear and concise. Some good examples of this are, Nokia: “Connecting People” and Guinness: “Pure Genius”.
- Brand Awareness: Your prospective clients and customers should be able to recognise your brand through many areas of media, from printed advertisements and online through your website and social media marketing campaigns. Look to create a brand that has distinctive design elements which are instantly recognisable. For example, Nike and Apple have created strong brand awareness through using just the shape of the ‘Tick’ and the ‘Apple’ without the need to have the word placed underneath. Companies such as Nike and Apple have generated brand awareness over many years through successful advertising campaigns and it is only recently that they used the graphic elements of their logo without the main name.
Getting Your Brand Out There
Most prospective clients would expect any business to have an online presence and it’s important to have a well designed website that’s easy to use with balanced content.
There are so many options to build websites nowadays including free website building platforms such as WordPress that are easy to use. Or hire a professional web designer
to design and build a clean, functional website for you.
Here are some tips for creating a strong website design:
- What other brands inspire you? Perhaps even look at your competitors to see how their brand works; colours, typeface, content etc, what makes their website engaging?
- Keep it clean Look to design a clean website that is easy to navigate and does not contain too much content. Avoid animated GIFs and Flash animation intros that makes the user wait to actually get into the main website.
- Get feedback Ask your friends and family to give you feedback so you can tweak the design before launching it fully to the public domain.
Once you are happy with your new website, look to promote it online through the various social media platforms that are available. The most popular ones remain; LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, yet there are always new ones being launched so investigate which platforms are most suited to your needs. Another way of sharing your knowledge and expertise is writing blogs, either for your own website or as a guest blogger for others.
All of these options offer their own unique way of engaging with your audience and building your brand reputation.
The best way of getting your brand out there is by attending networking events. Whilst networking isn’t easy for many people, here are a few simple tips for successful networking:
- Do not be afraid of attending networking events There are many others out there who are also nervous about attending, if you see any attendees standing on their own, approach them first as they will often be the most open to meeting new people.
- Listen to others first Once in a conversation, listen to others and show genuine interest. You have two ears and one mouth – use them in proportion. By listening and helping others, they are more likely to help you in the future.
- Networking is NOT selling Do not over-sell at a networking event. Networking is about building relationships, getting to know, like and trust others. Knowing when to engage in ‘business talk’ between ‘small talk’ is crucial.
A final point would be that brands are always looking to expand their audience, so seek out brand partners to share an audience and work out some sort of collaboration. For a micro business, you may be able to get a bigger brand to pay any costs involved if you can approach them with an exciting and new partnership opportunity, see what they’re willing to give you in return.
Today’s Micro Action
Have a look at your existing brand, what three things would you change to make it more of a compelling brand? Make an action plan today!