A Brand is the image of your business; the products or services that your customers and potential customers connect with. You don’t even have to see the name of some of the famous brands to know what they are – for example, you see the big, yellow, arches in the shape of an ‘M’ and just know that it’s Macdonald’s – or see the Apple logo and you know what it represents. Building a brand for your small business means you are marketing your business to be recognisable, so the name of your business is instantly connected to the products or services you provide.
If you have a good online presence, you’re already making a start in promoting your brand. You can use search engine optimization with relevant keywords, which will show up in online searches, but you need to do plenty of research to ensure you are using the right kind of keywords for your business so customers and potential customers can find you more easily.
Your brand says a lot about you, the person behind your business – your brand is synonymous with your reputation. How do your customers see you? Are you seen as an expert in your field? What do you represent? What does your business stand for? When someone hears the name of your business or your name, what springs to their minds?
What is your current brand?
Put yourself into the shoes of your customer. Type the name of your business into google search and see what comes up – then type in your name. If you were a potential customer, would you employ you? Most big companies in the UK check out potential employees’ Facebook pages – what does your page say about you? If you’re trying to build a reputable brand, be careful about what you say on social media pages – although this is controversial, if you regularly rant about your personal life in public or use expletives, does this give a good impression? Will it affect the reputation of your business?
Social media sites give you the opportunity to build your public image – it’s the one area you have total control over – you decide how you’d like your potential customers to see you. If you are selling a particular craft or product or provide a serviced, you’ll want to be seen as someone who knows what they’re talking about – an expert. What you post demonstrates that image to the public, so use it wisely.
How do you build a positive brand?
Set yourself goals…
- What do you want people to associate with you? What do you want your customers to think of you? If you were going to buy your products/services, what would you look for?
- A good brand demonstrates expertise. You need to show potential customers that you’re good at what you do. When you do a good job for your current customers, ask them for feedback and recommendations. When I want to buy something on EBay, I always look at feedback to ensure the seller is reputable and delivers what they say they will
- Your natural style – this is about how you portray yourself. Are you enthusiastic about what you do? Do you show your passion for your product or services? Do some research on other people who offer the same or similar products or services as you – how do they put their personal style across to their potential customers? I’m not saying you should copy someone else’s style, but if their style is successful, it wouldn’t hurt to emulate some of it!
Website – If your name or business name isn’t on the first page of a google search, you need to do some more work on getting yourself recognised. Do you have a website? If you do, research keywords for your product/services and keep your website content fresh and interesting.
Logo – if you don’t have a logo, it might be worth investing the time and money in getting one that captures your business. Then use it..on your website, on flyers, on your blog, business cards and in any advertising
Blog – do you have a blog? If you don’t, it’s worth thinking about – it’s a way to show your expertise to your customers. Write blogs that are informative and that help people; write about your products and why they’re good; research other bloggers who do the same or similar to you – follow them, make comments on other blogs, become a guest blogger. Get exposure!
Social Media – use social media wisely. Post regularly with relevant content on your business pages; use photographs, quotes, put links to interesting articles – anything that you think your customers would find interesting or useful…or even funny – without being offensive.
LinkedIn – this is a great business to business networking site – you can comment on forums, set up your own discussion threads – all of which can help you be seen as an expert in your field. Copy the LinkedIn profile you worked so hard on to other sites, such as AboutMe.com, Naymz.com and BrandYourself.com. Ensure you change the wording slightly so that the first few lines on a google search are slightly different for each site you join.
Set up a Google+ account – setting up this account will let google know that you exist – link it to your website and social media sites.
Building your brand takes time; google takes time to recognise any changes you make, but it’s worth the time and effort. You’ll get more business as more customers find you, like you and your brand and recommend you. This, in turn, will make your reputation grow – make your brand more recognisable….and so your business name and personal name will move up the ranks of google search and you will stand out from the crowd.
If you need any help with your branding, or if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’ll be happy to help.