When building a business, one of the early critical steps you must sort through is the brand, both in defining what it is and how to connect it to the right client.
And no, we’re not talking about the standard branding elements of creating a stylish logo and delivering smart, clever advertising. Yes, they both do have a role to play, but branding goes way deeper than those surface level things.
Defining your company brand is more about the core principles that define you, which in turn apply to the products and services you offer. Your brand is who you are, your products are what you sell. Confuse the two and you’re screwed.
Think for a second about the differences between Walmart, Target, and Amazon.
All three are massive retail giants who, for the most part, sell many of the same items. But the minute you read those names, you probably knew what each one stood for and the audience they want to reach.
Walmart is the mass appeal discount retailer.
Target is the slightly more upscale discount alternative.
Amazon is the online retailer with a huge variety of items.
Three retailers, each with a similar goal of selling products and services to as many consumers as possible, achieving their mission with three distinctly different approaches.
Their brand determines their ideal client.
How do you obtain similar success with a clearly defined brand that also reaches its preferred clientele?
If you understand who you are, what you represent, and the value your product or service brings to a consumer, it’s not nearly as daunting a process as one would think.
Here are the three critical questions you need to ask.
Question #1: What Does Your Brand Represent?
When it comes to building a brand, many first-time entrepreneurs and small business owners overlook an essential fact of commerce: Consumers buy more than just a product.
What you’re selling only accounts for a fraction of the actual sale. Customers are looking for an experience, something they can return to that is unique or adds value to their lives.
They buy what the product represents. A lifestyle. A vibe. A sense of identity.
Going to back to our retail example, remember that Walmart, Target, and Amazon are all retailers that offer a lot of the same product types. However, they all stand for vastly different principles and experiences.
People shop at Walmart because they know it represents low pricing.
People shop at Target because they know it represents an upscale experience.
People shop with Amazon because they know it represents convenience and variety.
What do you represent? What is your Unique Selling Proposition – the thing that sets you apart from everyone else?
A unique take on a classic product? Are you more social or environmentally conscience or community driven? Perhaps your company offers an economical solution or luxury experience for the end user?
Whatever it may be, there is no wrong answer, only what is right for you and your business.
Think about who you are and what you stand for and what it is that you can provide and build that into your professional identity.
Question #2: What Makes Your Brand Valuable?
Understanding your value to a potential client is where the product or service you offer comes into play.
You’ve developed your message and what your company represents. Now extend that to the physical aspect of what you sell.
Let’s move away from our retail example and look at a few different business types. Regardless of the product or service, you’re hoping to promote, these principles apply to any endeavor.
Just make sure you clearly define the qualities that set you apart from your competitors and what you can bring to a client that no one else can.
It can be as simple as a construction firm that provides an easy three-step bidding process.
Alternatively, you can develop a niche such as a clothier that specializes in superhero t-shirts.
A broader approach works too, such as the case for a property manager who’s selling a better way to oversee rental houses.
The point is that while it’s important to know your product, it’s even more vital to know its value. By selling your brand’s advantages and worth, people will wonder how they managed to get by prior to the benefits you brought to them.
Question #3: Who Will My Brand Appeal To And How Do I Reach Them?
Now that you have a grasp of your brand’s identity and the value it carries, it’s time to figure out who those principles appeal to the most.
While we all want to build a broad customer base and reach as many people as possible, developing a core group of ideal clients is critical to success.
In other words, you need to figure out EXACTLY who you want to work with AND where you can find them.
The easy example is the highly specialized t-shirt seller, where the appeal is built directly into the product – superheroes.
Your ideal client is superhero lovers (nerd types).
Where do you find these people? In the physical world, you would start at places like comic book stores or comic-con events.
Then you would hit the stores where shoppers who love t-shirts hang out, such as retailers that sell pop culture attire, niche casual wear, or even children’s apparel.
Of course, the challenge is that you can’t physically be in all these places at once. That’s where the beauty of internet advertising comes into play.
Online, you build your marketing around who is most likely and most frequently going to use and value your product or service and then target your efforts accordingly. All your ads are going to be specifically targeted at people who are interested in superhero-type stuff.
The more you do this, the more you establish yourself as THE brand when it comes to superhero apparel.
It’s no different for the other endeavors we mentioned.
You identify your ideal client and where that ideal client can be found. Then you target your marketing efforts specifically at those clients.
Regardless of your trade or craft, build your core first.
These first adapters and repeat fans are the people who will carry you through the rough patches that all businesses face on their path to greater success.
The reality is that you don’t want to work with everyone. You only want to work with people who want what you have to offer and are willing to pay you what you deserve. If you try to go after every customer, you’ll end up connecting with no one.
Many small companies struggle to find solid footing because they fail to recognize the need to offer more than just a commodity. They must provide an identity for consumers to buy into and relate.
Similarly, even established organizations will lose sight of what first made them successful and will have to recalibrate their message and approach and get back to basics.
When taken individually those basics are much easier to focus in on and refine.
Understand what you represent.
Recognize your company’s value and how it can help potential clients.
Identify that the core customer and reach out to them.
Give each of these items your full attention and focus and let your principles guide the next steps for your organization to take.
Be more than just a name with something to sell.
If you define what your brand truly embodies and appeal to those who will best recognize its value, your company identity will indeed be one that represents success.