July 20, 2016
Figure out who your brand is before you can even get started.
Decide who your brand really speaks to and really influences to buy.
Figure out how to communicate your identity and values to a receptive audience, and watch the money roll in.
Brand development isn’t just reserved for the big boys with deep pockets like Google and the Dallas Cowboys.
For some reason there’s a disconnect in the minds of small and medium business owners between the massive marketing campaigns of those household names and their own brand image.
But there’s not. Branding is just as important for KFC as it is for your company.
Part of the reason for that disconnect is the sheer amount of coin that big companies can pump into their branding campaigns, such as multi-million dollar Super Bowl ads.
But what if I told you huge companies spend big on branding because, well…they’re big? And what if I also told you that small businesses likewise don’t have to invest nearly as much money into branding?
Branding strategy boils down to three key elements, no matter how big or small your business. You too can reap the rewards of standout digital branding by sticking to these basics, even if you don’t have enough money for a billboard in Times Square.
Simple right? But think about it for a bit, and you’ll quickly realize it’s an uncomfortable question. Nailing down exactly who you are and what your purpose is can trigger an existential crisis—your business might have changed drastically since you first opened your doors, and who knows where the path leads in the future?
If your business has evolved over the years or radically changed the way things work, odds are your brand needs updating as well. Make it absolutely clear to customers who you are and what you do; otherwise, any big changes will leave your target audience confused at the lack of synergy between how you look and how you act.
Plus, it’s a heck of a lot easier to convince people to buy from you if you know the answer yourself.
Instead of gunning hard for your target audience—or who you think your target audience is—instead take a good hard look at who really derives value from your services. There’s a chance the people you’ve been trying to sell to aren’t the ones who resonate best with your brand.
You can’t sell your business to everyone, yet so many companies cite exactly that as their target audience. There’s a reason Apple targets younger, tech-savvy customers and McDonald’s targets people who want to eat fast and cheap—because those are the people most receptive to their respective brands and offerings.
Can you imagine if McDonald’s started doing away with their value menu and combo meals and started selling steaks without going through a colossal rebrand?
Every brand has an ideal customer profile, AKA a buyer persona, that should be the central focus of their branding efforts. This buyer persona accounts for the majority of your business, and deserves all the attention you can afford.
Your buyer persona might be somewhat broader or more fine-tuned depending on your industry. The persona might have a specific sex, ethnic or religious background, education level, age group, geographical location, etc.
And while most businesses do have one ideal buyer persona, you might find that there are other ‘second-best’ buyer pesonas that still account for a good chunk of your business.
Don’t ignore them! With patience and a little hard work, you’ll be able to craft customized branding messages to target each persona and win their business.
Right, now for the most important part…why should those buyer personas from Part Two care about Part One and your brand identity?
If your company really provides value and solves problems, this should be easy.
What shakes those people out of their Internet-induced brain fog and rallies them to buy? What motivates them? In most cases, people are motivated to buy based on pain avoidance and pleasure gain, in that order. Your branding should target the specific pains and discomforts your customers experience and demonstrate how your company is the answer.
Use your data. Hopefully you’re sitting on mounds of sales data that can point you in the right direction. But if not, now’s the time to start. Go through your most frequent or biggest buyers and try to match them to your buyer personas. Shoot out a quick survey to try and glean their biggest motivators for choosing your company, and any hangups they had in the buying process.
This information is more valuable than gold, so do whatever you can to get as much as possible.
These are the basics to branding strategy, and now you should have all the tools necessary to both find and woo your ideal customers.
If you’re a big company and have a marketing department the size of a small country, you’re good to go. But for the other 99.999% of businesses, that’s where an agile marketing team comes in—someone to reimagine your brand to win more sales and bigger profits.