Only a decade or so ago, branding was only for the big boys. Today, branding is no longer just for big business. Even if you’re a one-man (or woman !) band, branding yourself or your business effectively will add real value to you or your business. Small business or personal branding is all about identifying, packaging up and clearly communicating your, or your business’ unique selling points (USPs) or unique characteristics. These USPs or unique characteristics are the things people who hire you or buy from you get when they do biz with you (in addition to the product or service you sell them).
When it comes to really small business branding, things like your tenacity, your sense of humour and good communication skills may well play as important a part in your branding exercise as your product or service.
In short, your brand is the whole package of attributes you bring to the table.
Where do you start?
Your brand is the sum total of what really differentiates you from your competitors. In reality, these may be your personality, your attention to detail, your experience, your accomplishments, your skills or your values (or of course your products or services). Either way, these elements are the core values that you want people to associate with your business.
Branding yourself or your small business isn’t an easy process, but it’s a really important one. Start by clearly identifying your or your business’ strengths. What do you bring to the table when you join forces with your customers, what do you do better, more effectively or more efficiently than anyone else? Perhaps you offer a product that’s unique or you’ve have developed a completely new service, or you’ve maybe re-packaged an existing product or service to be more appealing or interesting? Either way, these are all possible features of your brand.
When you’ve identified these elements, try to summarise them into a sentence or two.
Packaging your brand
How you package your brand will depend to a large extent, on the size of your business, your target market and of course your budget. That said, in this day and age of cheap (but high quality) online printing; free website templates and free or low cost graphics packages, there’s no reason why you can’t really go to town with your branding exercise (even on a shoestring).
It’s essential to include your business name in your brand, but you should also try to incorporate some sort of tagline that sums up you or your business. Mine is “Marketing savvy professional copywriter”, because it pretty much says it all. Once you have your tagline, use this as the foundation on which you develop the remainder of your brand communication.
Remember to include your tagline on all your communication materials.
Giving your brand an image
Your brand image will have your website, your business card and your communication style at its core. Once you’ve decided on your image, get it out and about on the social media.
The social media are great places to get your brand noticed. They allow you to reach out to a targeted audience, which would have been impossible only a few years ago. A useful blog, integrated into your website, which is linked out to the social networks is a great way to get your brand noticed. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook should probably be your first port of call.
Keep your brand image consistent and stay loyal to your brand, even in tough times. If you’re social networking, decide clearly on your target audience and promote your brand in a focused and professional way. Just because the social media are free, doesn’t mean you should put less thought into how you promote yourself there than if you were paying for a printed ad somewhere.
If you’re reading this page and nodding your head, that’s great because it means I’ve struck a chord. But, if you know in your heart that you can do all this stuff yourself, but you’ll never get round to it, gimme me a shout…. I can either provide you with the support you need or get the job done for you, whichever works best for you.