As a small company, you need to be concerned with attracting your target market to your brand. If you can distinguish your product or service from the competition, you will be ahead of the game. And you may even win over some customers from the larger competitors.
Having a recognizable brand doesn’t necessarily mean that your business will be universally known. It simply means that you are increasing your chance to compete successfully for attention and market share in the appropriate space. It doesn’t take an expensive global advertising campaign to brand your business.
First of all, identify your target market. Without knowing who your customers are and what their likes and dislikes are, your branding efforts will be in vain. Informal surveys, focus groups, magazines such as American Demographics, census information, and research reports can all be helpful in determining your niche. In addition, trade magazines for your industry may point you in the right direction.
Once you have identified your target market, remember that customers are bombarded by ads and brands, and it is virtually impossible for them to distinguish among all the messages. As a result, you need to cut through the noise. Differentiation is key for any product or service. A name, logo, and domain name are the obvious and necessary steps in creating a brand message that will set you apart from the competition.
You can either work independently to come up with a logo and name or you can work with a branding consultant to come up with a package containing logo, brand, tagline, and so on. Branding consultants can be expensive, but will give you professional results that will make a difference in the long run. There are numerous branding consultants, both big and small, so try getting a referral from colleagues. Or if there’s a company whose logo and branding efforts you particularly admire, call them up and see if they can recommend a consultant.
Take your brand development seriously, and invest what is necessary to have a company help you achieve your goals. Make sure you are able to communicate your company’s positioning and core values. If you can’t articulate what differentiates you from your competitors to your branding consultant, chances are they won’t be able to communicate it to your customers. They need clear direction from which to craft a memorable, differentiated brand.
Once you have a brand identity, you can focus on marketing your company to your target market on the Web. There are numerous ways to accomplish this:
- Build a Web site (for more information, see How to Develop a Good Small Business Web Site)
- Advertise on Web sites (for more information, see Internet Advertising Strategies for Small Businesses)
- Optimize your site for search engines (for more information, see Use Search Engine Optimization to Build Web Site Traffic)
- Register with search engines and directories (for more information, see Submitting Your Small Business Web Site to Search Engines)
- Collect email addresses and send out an email newsletter (for more information, see Email Marketing Basics for Small Businesses)
- Write a Weblog (for more information, see Can Weblogs Keep Your Customers Coming Back?)
Branding can be a time-consuming process that requires a lot of patience waiting for your efforts to come into fruition. Don’t be tempted to constantly tinker with your brand. Instead, work on getting your name out there. As a result, you may find customers that appreciate your attention to detail and your personalized service.