If you’re a small business, you’ve probably heard the buzz bandied about on the web about branding, personal branding, social branding, etc.  Branding, branding, branding!

The buzz is actually for a good reason.

Branding is important.

In fact, a good branding strategy is what your business should be built upon.  When you lay out a branding strategy for your business, it suddenly becomes so much easier to make decisions regarding where you want to go in your business, the message you want to send out, how you will interact with your customers, how you will handle negative feedback, etc.

It also helps you nail down the image you want to project in the form of packaging, like logos, taglines, slogans, brochures, your website, etc.  When you know the ultimate destination, it’s much easier to map out a road to get there.

That said, if you did not create a branding strategy as the foundation of your business, but are keen to rectify it, there’s always hope.  You can make the decision today to make branding a priority when it comes to your business and start thinking about just how you want people to see you.

The sad fact is that even if branding isn’t important to you, and you don’t think you need to do it… you kinda already are.  Whether you know it or not, the things you do in your business or for your business impact the way your clients and customers perceive you and your business.

And if you’re not at the helm, directing them where you want them to go, then they’ll see you however they please, whether it’s complimentary or not.  Like it or not, you’re branded in one way or another.  It’s up to you to choose the reality you want.

Key Questions to Consider When Creating a Branding Strategy

First of all, you need to know your audience.

  • Who are you marketing to?
  • Who do you want to do business with?
  • What are the types of people you want to convert into paying clients and customers, and ultimately brand ambassadors that sing your praises?

Know your offer.

  • What sort of services or products do you offer?
  • What sort of packages?
  • What is your pricing structure?

Know your USP.

  • What about your company makes you different from the competition?
  • What makes you great, and how can you prove it?
  • What’s your mission or goal with your business?
  • How do you want to be perceived?

Know your morals and ethics.

  • How will you handle negative feedback?
  • How will you handle customer support issues?
  • How will you conduct your business?
  • How much “under the hood” are you willing to reveal about your business practices to your clients/customers?
  • What sort of guarantees are you willing to offer your people?

These are just a few of the things you should be thinking about when considering your brand.  Of course there are other considerations as well, but this is a good benchmark to get you started.  Once you figure out the why’s, where’s, and how’s of your business and the image you want to project… then the path to getting there becomes much clearer.

Consider the Great Brands

All good brands stick in your head for a reason.  When you think of their product or service, the only name that comes to mind is THEIR name.  Why?  Because they’ve successfully branded themselves in a way that’s connected with you emotionally somehow.

Think of Nike and all those Just Do It commercials.  Because of those, when we think Nike, we think Just Do It.  It’s because Nike created a movement with their branding, geared toward athletes and wanna be athletes, with an underlying message of if you want to be someone, if you want to be great, just do it.  Don’t be afraid, just do it.  And wear Nikes while you’re at it.

Or consider Zappos.  They believe that your culture is your brand.  If you get your culture right, the rest will fall into place naturally.  They’re not just about retailing, or selling shoes and clothes.  Their brand is about their culture and creating a spectacular customer experience, with superior customer service.

They believe that a company should be built on core values, and on core values you can commit to. Not just values that “sound good” in theory.  In short, they practice what they preach.  They focus on making sure their customers are well taken care of, and as a result have built an almost cult-like following… and brand ambassadors galore.

So your take-away today should be that a brand isn’t just about creating a cool logo or design, or introducing a new product.  It’s about the foundations your company is built upon, the core values that you commit to each and every day.  It’s your mission, the integrity of your business practices, and yes, even about you as a person.

It’s never too late to begin a good brand strategy, and it’s vital to remember that if you don’t do it yourself, like it or not someone else is doing it for you.

Cori is a wildly hire-able freelance ‘ghost’ as well as the creative brains and dubious brawn behind her blog Big Girl Branding.  If you’d like to harness her creative brains and dubious brawn to guest post on your blog, just stalk her on Twitter and ask her.  I’m “almost” sure she doesn’t bite. Well… like 95% sure.