July 29, 2013
There are so many companies of all shapes and sizes that it can be hard to catch consumers’ attention. However, it is more important than ever for a company to stand out from the competition. This is done via branding.
Put in simple terms, branding is about creating a company image and then defining that image in a way that customers can relate to. It involves creating a “culture” for the business that enables customers and potential customers to understand what the business is about. Naturally, your branding should make people want to do business with you and/or refer people to your company.
The following are five important steps you should take if you want your target audience to better understand who you are and what you do. These tips can be applied to any business of any size, no matter where it is located or what it sells.
The old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is certainly true when it comes to branding your company. Instead of talking about how good your products are, post clear pictures on your website so that people can see what you are offering. Make sure these photos can be enlarged or even rotated. If your company offers services such as landscaping, tailoring, hair styling or the like, show photos of your previous projects. Doing so will not only help customers better understand your services, but also get ideas for how your company could help them.
If part of your branding image includes the fact that you are a local “mom and pop” family run shop, then post a picture on your website of you (the owner) with your family to emphasize your personable, friendly nature. On the other hand, if your business is formal in nature, then put up a photo on your site of yourself in business attire. Research has clearly proven that using a personal photo on your site and on business cards increases the chances of people wanting to do business with your company.
Provide Avenues for Two Way Communication
Most people enjoy speaking more than listening and your customers are no exception. A very important part of branding your business is connecting to the people who enable your company to stay afloat. Every business should have a way for customers to easily get in touch with comments, questions and even complaints. If you sell items online, then allow and even encourage your customers to put up reviews of products they have purchased. You should also encourage people to leave comments on your Facebook page and blog page.
If you are a small company, then have someone available to answer the phone in person. There is hardly anything worse than having to press a number, listen to a recording, press another number and then wait five minutes before being able to speak to a human being.
Use Social Media Wisely
In times past, sellers got to know their customers in the marketplace, because this was where the people were. Today, almost everyone can be found on one or more social media networks. In fact, it has been estimated the average individual spends about 15 hours a month on Facebook alone.
Social media is a great way to connect with people and every company should have not only a Facebook site but also a company blog and Twitter account. Freelancers would do well to use LinkedIn while those who sell products such as make-up, arts and crafts supplies, clothes, baked goods and other visually appealing items should make use of Pinterest or Instagram to show off products and their use in a positive light.
However, one danger of getting too involved in social media communications with clients and potential clients is that it can detract from the personal touch that can be provided by offline communications. A face-to-face chat or a holiday greeting card sent via the postal system is likely to mean a lot more to a customer than a message sent from a social media site. If you want to stand out; take the time to be personable, not just on the Internet but in the “real world” as well.
Focus on the Benefits
Promote yourself positively by focusing on who you are and what you have to offer. If your company focuses on providing discount products or services, then by all means emphasize your great, low prices. On the other hand, if you are not the cheapest option on the block, then focus on the particular strengths that you provide. Perhaps your products last longer than those made by other companies, or maybe they are tailor-made to suit the needs of a particular niche audience. Whatever your strengths are, emphasize them.
Maintain Stability and Continuity
Maintaining stability and continuity is a very important part of branding your company. It takes time to get customers; however, once you have convinced someone to buy something from you, it is much easier to get him or her to shop with you again than it is to win a new customer.
Customers like stability. They want to be able to count on you to provide the exact same products and services in the exact same manner. If you change prices, warranty terms, guarantees, logo design and/or the “feel” of your business too often, customers will become disoriented and go elsewhere.
This does not mean that you can never change things for the better; in fact, you will probably need to make positive changes from time to time to cut costs and better serve your clients. However, changes should be made with caution and should not affect your core services, products and commitment to excellence.
To successfully brand your company, know who you are, display it via photo and video, emphasize your benefits, connect with customers both online and in person and then maintain consistency in your work. It will take time, hard work and a lot of consistence to build up your brand, but is more than worth your efforts. As customers connect with your company, they are more likely to not only continue doing business with you but also refer their family, friends and colleagues to your company.
Olivia Rose loves arts and crafts and everything vintage. She has recently began to sell her crafts online and she has had personalized labels for her products printed by Hague Print. Business is currently flourishing and she has high hopes for the future.