So you have a business. You have a great product, or provide a great service, and you have a website that tells all about that product or service. Maybe you even have a logo and a catchy tagline. That’s awesome! But that doesn’t mean you have a brand. What is a brand? A brand is the personality behind the business. It is the reputation of your business, conceived of in the mind of your consumer as a result of your logo, your story, your marketing message and all of the features that identify who you are and what you are.
Consider the Apple brand. What comes to mind? You’re probably imagining the now iconic Apple logo, or picturing an iPhone. And you’re likely pairing those icons with terms like technology, innovation, trendy or cool. You’re thinking these things because Apple has carefully crafted its company, and its marketing messages to communicate these images and characteristics.
Sure, you’re not Apple. You’re you! You’re unique! One of the first steps in building your own brand is figuring out how you are different from all of the other brands.
Defining Your Brand
“Brand” may sound like just a modern-day marketing buzzword, but properly defining your company’s brand really is essential to your business’ long-term success. You may have a one-of-a-kind, revolutionary product or service, but that doesn’t mean anything if your customers don’t feel the same way! Not to worry — there are three easy questions you can ask yourself to help you define your brand:
1. Who am I?
In order to convey who your company is to your customers, you first need to understand it for yourself! Think about the reason your business exists and the promise it extends to its customers. Think about what you stand for and what is most important to you as a business, beyond your products and services. Starbucks, for example, has built its success not simply on coffee, but on the Starbucks coffeehouse experience. “A place for conversation and a sense of community,” the company states. “A third place between work and home.”
2. Who is my customer?
Once you know who you are and what you stand for, the next step is to define your target customer, and really understand who they are. By doing so, you can tailor your brand message to cater to them and their specific needs. This goes beyond just demographic information. Entrepreneur published a great article Marketing Like the Big Brands: Think You Know Your Customer? Think Again on the subject earlier this year. The author writes about his experience in marketing for Johnson & Johnson. “I was working on baby lotion and baby powder, yet I had never held a baby before in my life. I had to immerse myself in the life of being a mom, if I was ever going to understand my customer’s needs,” he writes. In addition to gaining information on the customers’ gender, ages and geographic locations, he delved into deeper questions, such as: Is she a first-time mom? What advice is she getting? What aspect of being a new mom is she most worried about? From there, he was able to craft a better marketing campaign.
Gathering such information can be simpler than you think. Reach out to your current customers and talk to them directly. You can also create a simple survey online through SurveyMonkey. Social media platforms can even be used to reach out to customers openly, or to review your customers’ profiles and observe any commentary about their daily lives that could provide insight.
3. Who are my competitors?
Remember how we said one of the first steps in building your own brand is figuring out how you are different from all of the other brands? Well, this is that step! It’s always important to do some form of competitive review because it can help you stay on top of trends in your industry, but it can also help you further define your brand. Take a look at how other companies are branding themselves and who they seem to be targeting. Then think about what makes you and your business different from theirs. Is there something you have to offer that your competitors don’t? If a customer were to ask you, “Why should I choose you over your competitor?”, you want to be able to give them a good answer!
Have questions? Message Sprout is here to help! Contact us to help you define your own brand, create a marketing plan for your business or manage your content marketing.