There are millions of products on the market for branding right now. Each come with their own promise of success and infinite growth. Most of these products are written by entrepreneurs who have experienced social media fame and learned to monetize their following. These stories can be helpful and are excellent examples of how culture is evolving, but branding is much more than Instagram fame and a sponsored post in Forbes. Branding is a science. There is psychology, consumer research and many other factors that play a part in building a strong brand. Understanding the nitty gritty of branding will ensure that your brand has growth AND longevity.
Before we jump into the fun stuff we need to start by defining what branding is and how it differs from marketing. Entrepreneurs tend to confuse the two. People think that by branding their business they are also at the same time marketing their business to the public. To clear this misnomer up, branding is the fingerprint of a business and marketing is what you do to show your audience that fingerprint. Branding is essential because consumers want to know who you are.
Spending money is inevitable. We buy products every day and we patronize companies that we are both familiar and unfamiliar with. The key here is to realize that we spend MORE money over GREATER periods of time with companies we feel like we know and this is where entrepreneurs have an opportunity to capitalize. This is where branding comes in. There is no higher return on investment than branding. A company can keep the same product for 20-30 years and invest money in branding and re-branding over time and their profits will still grow. For example, Coca-Cola, KFC, and Johnson-Johnson. These companies have developed new products, but their bread and butter products have stayed the same over the years and their branding has evolved. Their profits are steadily growing and subconsciously we as consumers purchase their items over competitors.
Branding takes time, but there are ways to jumpstart your journey. Working with a coaching professional or brand strategist can help more clearly define the key points of your fingerprint. When branding you want to keep in mind your values and beliefs, company culture, and personal story.
Once you brand your venture you will be ready to show your fingerprint to the world; i.e. marketing and attracting your ideal client. Before you do anything, spend any money or attempt to market your brand, there are four questions you should attempt to answer.
- What is your ideal client?
“I am my ideal client” is not a good response to this question. As a business owner, you need to know who your ideal client is. This may take some creativity on your part. Sometimes if you name the imaginary client and create a backstory describing your audience is easier. Write a description of who she/ he is, where they are from, age, background, interests.
- What are your ideal client’s behaviors?
Where does this person like to shop or vacation? Where do they spend leisure time? What are their favorite websites to frequent? What magazines do they subscribe to? Get into the head of your client. Learning their behaviors will come in handy when you are creating a marketing plan. You need to know where to find them and when.
- What problems do your ideal clients have?
By the time, you get to this question you should have some idea of what issues your clients have. Once you frequent the blogs, social media accounts and websites your ideal client participates in you will have a better understanding of what they are lacking or in search of. Read through blogs, comments, forums, any piece of interactive communication, you can get your hands on.
- How can you solve your ideal client’s problems and with what products?
Here’s the fun stuff! This is where you get creative and use the skills you possess to assess the needs of your ideal client. Write down ways that your products solve their problems. You may even need to develop a new product to assess a need your clients have that you were unaware of before.
We used the word “ideal client” repeatedly in each question to drive home the fact that you need to have a niche. More clients equal more money, but you want to be selective to some extent with your audience. For example, if you sell natural hair products you generally want to market to women with natural hair. Your products may work well for women with relaxed hair, but your marketing needs to be geared towards consumers who NEED your product, not just WANT your product. When a consumer spends money, they are purchasing their “needs” before their “wants”. Your product’s ideal position is somewhere on the “needs” list. Hopefully somewhere near the top of that list!
Branding can be overwhelming, but don’t let it break you down. There is a lot of research and work that goes into building a strong brand. Your brain may break a sweat! Remember that consumers want to get to know who you are. Branding is the fingerprint of your business. With a better development of your company identity will come increased sales and more importantly LOYAL consumers, not just followers. Take time out this week to grab a pen and paper, write your story, list your values and beliefs, describe your company culture and get to know your ideal client.