As you begin hustling and ducking and diving in order to get your business up and running, marketing may fall by the wayside. However, mapping out your branding strategy early on can really pay dividends down the line.
Branding your business will help you truly identify your target market. A great branding strategy should offer your audience a strong flavour of what your company is trying to achieve, and what, more importantly, makes you different from other companies in the same sector.
A matured branding approach not only helps you convert leads into customers in the short term, but it also sticks in the conscious of those who aren’t yet committed to making a purchase, who might return in the future.
In this blog, we’ve outlined some of the best branding strategies that you should be looking at even before your business takes off.
#1: Don’t Neglect Your ‘About Us’ Page
Have a look at your ‘About Us’ page on your website. How does it look? The smart money says it’s probably just a couple of paragraphs of pretty general stuff, i.e. what you do, when you started and who you are.
If this standard “about us”, sounds a little bit like what you have, then it’s certainly worth the effort to take some more time to answer the ‘whys’ of your business.
Your about us page is an opportunity to introduce your customers to your brand and tell them precisely what you stand for. This page needs to answer two fundamental questions:
Of course, that’s not to say that everybody will visit this page, but those who do will stand to gain a better insight into what drives and pushes your brand.
Simply deciding what should be on this page will help you develop the values, tone and language that will come to define your brand for as long as it exists. What’s more, the about us page is the second most visited page on any website.
#2: Understand Your Customer Personas
Before you even begin to roll out an overarching branding and marketing strategy, you must understand who exactly you’re trying to connect with. 78% of consumers say that relevance is important to them when it comes to consuming online content, which is why it’s so important to tailor your messages to the right kinds of people.
You’ve probably got a fair idea about the kinds of customers who will be interested in buying your product or service, but have you detailed your customer personas?
A customer persona is a profile of your target audience based on market research and historical data. If you’re a new company, you might not have much data to go on, but this just means you’ll start off with a broader persona, that steadily narrows as you learn more about your audience.
For example, a company selling OAP emergency alarms may identify two primary buyers:
As the business begins to flourish, the company may start to analyse customer data, such as Google Analytics information, demographics and customer reviews, to learn about other potential avenues of revenue that they hadn’t thought of.
As you continue to learn more about your customer personas’ interests, bugbears, and the overall purchasing process, you’ll be in a much better position to create targeted messages.
#3: Formulate Branding Style Guidelines
No matter what format you choose to use for your marketing, it’s essential that your brand voice and visual styles are consistent. The consistent style will help your audience recognise you and identify with your brand, while inconsistent branding can confuse your audience, which certainly isn’t the ideal scenario.
You should take the time to create a brand style that includes:
Sure, it’s a lot effort, but it’s certainly worth it in the long run. Having style guides that you can have to hand to share with employees and any third parties, such as freelancers, who do work for you will help keep all forms of visual and written communication aligned with your brand voice.
This kind of brand consistency is likely to pay off in a big way for you: you’re three to four times more likely to benefit from brand visibility when you present your brand consistently, which can lead to an average increase of 23% in revenue.
#4: Leverage Customer Loyalty
Branding your company isn’t just about attracting new customers – it’s about retaining the loyal customers you already have.
One brilliant way of improving customer retention is to reward customers for their purchases. This could be:
Curating a reward scheme will reinforce the idea that your company is one that cares about its customers. In addition to this, if your company offers a reward programme that none of your competitors has, this gives you a unique selling point.
An excellent example of this is when Starbucks first launched the My Starbuck Rewards through their Starbucks app. Although this idea is now commonplace when it was first launched, it was a completely new idea.
#5: Encourage and Share Unique Content
One of the main things anyone hopes to achieve through branding is engaging with potential customers, and one of the great things about the digital age is the fact that you’re able to connect with your audience on platforms that they’re already spending time on.
Once you begin to build your online audience, you can encourage your following to share branded content on their websites and social platform. User-generated content, which could consist of anything from product unboxings videos to reviews – virtually anything that builds authenticity. When consumers see that real people are using and benefiting from your product or service, they will be confident that you are good at what you do.
#6: Curate a Network of Influencers
An article rounding up branding strategies certainly wouldn’t be complete without talking about influencer marketing. Influencer marketing means working with someone who already has an established base of followers online so that they can introduce your brand to them. This could be anything from writing a branded article on an influencer's website or having an influencer review a product on YouTube or Instagram.
As a growing business, you may not feel like you have the authority to work closely with an influential blogger or internet personalities, but influencer marketing works with companies of all sizes, assuming you have the time to invest in it.
You first need to identify influencers who parallel your product or service, to ensure that customer interest is aligned. You can do this manually through Google, or you can use programmes such as BuzzSumo or Upfluence.
After you’ve chosen the influencers you’d like to partner up with, you’ll need to take some time to build up a professional relationship, and you do this by doing the following:
Influencers will be far more considerate towards your proposal if you’ve done your research and have shown a genuine interest in who they are what they do.
Branding is absolutely crucial for a business because of the overall impact your company has on your following. Branding can change how people look at your business, which in turn helps to drive new business and retain loyal customers.
Richard LeCount is a promotional and environmental products expert, and the managing director of usbmakers.com, a company specialising in USBs and power banks.