As a small business, how do you stand out from your competitors? You know you need to, but every other company like yours is also trying to stand out.
Regardless of the size of your business, branding is so important that you can never just leave it to chance. It is just as important as product development – get it wrong and your product will never sell or your service will never be used.
Your customers brains are overloaded with new information every day. Done right, your branding will find a way of cutting through the clutter.
Just think about the visual and auditory information that is assaulting their senses on any given city street, television channel or website. Every aspect of your customers’ lives is like this. In all this ever-changing mental clutter a consistent company brand image is essential to any company’s survival in the 21st Century.
Your company branding should tell people who you are, what you do and why you do it. It should indicate your market positioning and your unique selling points.
A customer should be able to see consistency across every channel they use to communicate with you, so should include every aspect of your business, including lighting, colors, ease of access and staff attitudes as well as the more obvious logo and name. Even the smell of your office or storefront is part of your brand.
Let your brand do the pre-selling for you. This is how Apple manages to sell so many devices. People are buying the brand. Many buyers do not care if the product will last beyond the guarantee period, they must have it because the brand is part of the image.
The reason people buy Kelloggs’ cereals is because the company’s marketing has focused on natural and sunshine. Both are powerful images today.
People buy Toyota cars for their reliability and Volvos for their great safety record.
It takes time to establish your brand’s unique selling point, but once established it will enable selling to your target customers a breeze. They will have decided to buy your product before ever contacting you about the details. This is the power of pre-selling.
Unique Selling Point
You need to develop a unique selling point (USP), a reason for people to buy from your company. This guide from Entrepreneur includes some excellent examples that every business owner should read.
There are thousands of companies very similar to yours, and you are competing with everyone of them around the globe for every single customer. Even the person that is standing outside your physical premises has in their pocket an instant connection to the Internet and every business that is online from all over the world.
Why should they buy from you? You must give them a reason to do so or they will buy elsewhere.
Your branding and USP are your tools. They are the only reasons they will take out their wallet in your store or on your website today.
Ideally they will be aware of your branding before they’re standing outside your store or viewing your website, but even if this is not the case, your branding can still win you the sale. If your branding is welcoming, with great customer service then they will likely complete a sale. They’re also more likely to come back for future purchases and to recommend your company to friends and contacts.
If your customers were just half as loyal as Apple customers then your business would be a run-away success story. Yes, Apple makes great products, but they do have imperfections. Their customers are so forgiving because of the loyalty they feel towards the brand. They overlook the imperfections and high prices because they need the brand more than they need the product, so they are prepared to pay a hefty premium.
When it comes to cars many buyers will look for the same manufacturer every time. Ford, Mercedes and Kia owners stand out as the most satisfied repeat-purchasers. These companies all have a single brand strategy. When customers’ needs change they replace one car with another from the same range because they identify with the brand.
Making sure customers come back should be a top priority for every business. They have made one purchase and if they are happy they are likely to become repeat customers. It’s your job to make sure they are happy.
Only 20% of reasons behind buying decisions are logical, the other 80% are emotional. If your company’s branding gives the right emotional signals then people will buy. This gets you out of the suicidal ‘race to the bottom’ where the lowest price is the main USP.
Emotional signals come from happy staff, correct lighting, well-chosen color schemes, ample parking and inviting websites. They come from a well-maintained store exterior, personal contact with the business owner through email, appropriate temperatures, from seeing your company associated with charity events and how easy your mobile app is to use. Everything.
Large companies that have to account for every cent to their shareholders have huge budgets for branding. The shareholders accept this fact because they know how important branding is to the long-term success of any business.
Branding is the only way to make your company stand out. The image your company has, its brand, is your main route to emotional engagement with prospective customers and success.
How have you set your company apart from the competition? What have you done to ensure your own branding has a positive impact on consumers? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below.