Your Brand Is Your Most Valuable Business Asset
Branding is creating a compelling association between your company, logo, products, etc. and an image, emotion, or message that that embodies the main benefit you can offer your customers. Branding is your promise to your customers about what they should expect from you.
If you do it right, branding should be emotional—it should create an unwavering product loyalty that renders your competitors’ marketing tactics ineffective on your customers. Slogans and catch phrases are only one aspect of branding. Many traditional branding strategies won’t apply to your online business, but there are several core lessons that you should keep in mind.
Two Branding Myths
Let’s look at two major branding myths so that you can learn which common mistakes to avoid:
Myth #1: You need to make your company or product a household name.
Remember, not every household is going to buy your product. You are going to be targeting a specific market. All you want to concentrate on is getting your name and products in front of your best potential customers, not everyone on the planet. Find your niche, and then stick with it!
It’s a waste of money for you to spend your advertising budget targeting a broad audience. Most of those people will not be interested in what you have to offer. Only focus on building your brand among your targeted, highly-specific niche market. These are the only people who will be willing to spend money on your products and services.
Myth #2: You need to spend a lot of money on brand recognition.
There are many free or cheap methods you can use to brand your startup business. You probably don’t have millions of dollars to spend on building a nationally recognized brand, and the good news is that you don’t need to spend that much.
In addition, there are many strategies that may have worked well years back that aren’t necessarily as effective today. Banner ads, for example, are not as profitable as they used to be.
Paying too much for pay-per-click advertising is another common mistake that many new business owners make. You don’t need to spend a lot to get the starter traffic you need to get your business off the ground.
The Importance of Brand Consistency
You need to repeat your message on a consistent basis to your customers in order for your brand to stick in their heads. Your website design, graphics, and logos should all visually reinforce your message.
Branding is more than just visual aspects though. Every point of contact your visitors and customers have with you is a branding opportunity. You need to reinforce your brand message and image every time you communicate with your customers or else all the money you spent on your logos and other branding techniques will have been wasted.
Here are some surefire ways to destroy your brand, no matter how much money you spent on it:
- Branding your product as high-end or exclusive but having a website or emails full of typos and bad grammar. This undermines your credibility.
- Boasting a wide selection of products but being constantly out of stock.
- Using words like “easy” and “convenient” in your company name or tagline and then having a site that is difficult to navigate.
Every aspect of your business should contribute to your brand image, including your customer service, newsletter, website content, etc. Your brand is like your personal reputation.
Developing a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
You unique selling proposition (USP) is a single sentence that you would say to a potential customer if you were sitting face to face with them trying to convince them that they can benefit from doing business with you. This should be a clear message, written in simple language, that is easy to remember and differentiates you from your competitors.
Your USP is the message that your market will use to identify you and what you will be associated with. It should set you apart from other businesses in your niche market who are targeting the same customers.
To perfect your own USP, ask yourself the following questions:
- How does my product solve my market’s problem better than other products?
- Is my product less expensive than my competition’s?
- Does my product last longer than the competition’s?
- Is my product more attractive looking than the competition’s?
- Does my product ship faster?
- Does my product come with special features?
Targeting Your Market
Obviously, you can’t afford to target the whole world with your marketing message. Since you are niche marketing, though, the good news is that you don’t have to.
The great thing about being able to market your business online is that it is very cheap to target hundreds of thousands of potential customers all over the world. You can easily and effectively market only to those people who will be most interested in what you have to offer. You can focus only on people who will be willing to do business with you.
It’s tempting to try and sell to everyone since the Internet has a global reach, but don’t do it! Only promote your products to a targeted market that you already know will be interested in them.