If I asked you what your brand represents, what would you say? You may have thought it didn’t matter, or you may be saying to yourself, brands are big companies like John Deere, Gap and Apple, not me. Well, for better or for worse, and I think for better, branding is important, especially if you are a business of one. It’s important because how we answer the phone, greet our customers, design our business cards and bill our customers plus 1000 ways in between make a difference with our customers and therefore it has to make a difference with us. The good news is, it’s easier to get started than your realize and it can have a very positive and major impact on your top line. If your brand sticks, meaning people remember it, you will grow and turn your business into everything you dreamed it could be.
Where do you begin?
I started my branding journey when I launched my first apparel business back 2005. I went through a huge learning curve about what branding is and how to go about building mine. For me the easy part was just being me. Talking with people about what I love to do is natural for me and so the first impression and building block of my brand was how people felt about speaking with me and how I took care of them. They got that I cared and that’s what they liked about my company, and ultimately it’s what they thought of when they saw my name. So whether you’re good at dealing with people or not, that will likely be the first brand association your customers will have with you. If you’re a Solopreneur or in the start-up phase of your business, this is the building block of your brand so it’s best to start from who you are and be real about it because no one wants to deal with a poser.
Special message to all posers, stop right here and go get a job, or get real.
Declaring Your Existence
When I first started out, my goal was to sell my product online and through specialty retailers in the bicycle industry. This is when I declared I was in business and started promoting the brand and our products. I found the quickest way to get on the map was to invest in going to Interbike, the industry trade show. Meeting people in person is always more powerful than connecting online and it was a great way for me to start meeting new industry insiders. It was then that I started to get my first customers showing up on my website.
I learned quickly that if I didn’t keep my e-commerce site updated and fresh, I wasn’t making sales and this seemed especially when selling hard goods. Any time I had a size out on an item it would kill the overall sales of that product as if all of a sudden it was last years model or that the sizes in stock should be discounted, simply because I no longer had any larges left. But ultimately, it was the transparency I created on my site that had the most impact on building my brand. I conveyed who I am and what I was about, people got my story and identified with me. Honestly, that was always the best part of being in business.
Smile and Wave Boys . . . Smile and Wave
Once I landed my first customer, things started to change, all of a sudden, I had real feedback from people who were actually spending dollars. Not only was I always open for some feedback, I really let it be known that I was looking for it. This was a game changer with my early adopters. Everyone likes to feel like they are part of something and feedback that a brand listens too, made my customers feel like were part of the brand, they loved the product, liked the experience and spread the word. Yeah, sometimes this so called feedback is just someone’s personal agenda but for the most part, when someone spoke to me about my business, there was usually something of great value in it. This is when I started to revisit my plan and boy did I realize that my message, although similar in tenor from my plan, turned out to be completely different and so much better. Customers allow you the opportunity to make a real impression and change something in their lives, this is a gift, so it was very important for me to understand the importance of listening to them.
I always served my customers with a smile and gratitude and because of that people really started to love the brand. This is easier said than done, but it is something any business owner must master if they want to build true affinity with your customers. Now, it was no longer just a conversation on the phone, it was delivery of my service and my promise.
Think Up New and Exciting Ways to Keep Your Customers Coming Back
Your Brand is your business
If you haven’t thought about these questions before, then it’s time to do so. Having a name that is identified as being the best in your industry or providing a unique experience for your customers makes all the difference regarding how people talk about you and your company. Like it or not, you’ve already conveyed your brand to your customers and it may not be a what you want it to be, which makes paying attention to this all that much more important. Whether you use social media or other more traditional avenues to convey your message it’s more important than ever that you make branding part of your mission. Building any business is dependent on how you build the community around you. Large brands and small have created circles of loyal followers around them by focusing on who they are, what they deliver, delivering it well and continuing to bring more value. This is the foundation of branding and where we come in.
Here are a Couple of Easy Steps to Get Started
Make the decision that it’s time you start focusing on what your brand means.
1) Write out a simple sentence stating what you do.
Really, keep this one simple. For example, I create and market websites for the working guy (or gal) who is too busy working their business to get online.
2) Create a sentence word or phrase that says who you are.
For example, I call myself the, Webmaster to the working Joe™. When I tell people who I am, they get it. It’s easy to remember and there is only one of us, because it’s my trademark. What do you call yourself.
Now you have a simple sentence or pitch you can use to tell someone about what you do and give them a tagline that makes it memorable. The beauty of this is that you can come up with these anywhere, while your working, eating lunch or doing your daily workout, if you have one. You now have the beginnings of your brand. Read on and keep going. you’ll be there before you know it, remember even Apple started in a garage.
If you are interested in how Ninja Business Media can help you with your brand, you can contact us to see how we can help.