You want your branding to represent your business. The ethos of your venture needs to be clear in all aspects: the tone of voice you use, the colour scheme for your website, the wording in our client emails, the name of your business – this is all the brand.Building a strong brand for your business is important. People automatically make the link between your branding and you. It needs to sell your business, and evoke emotion, connection and loyalty. (1) Market research Finding out as much as you can about both your audience and your competition will not only put you in good business stead but also help with your branding. Who in your sector has got a good reputation? How does their branding play a part in this? They might have a killer logo or witty business name, but how do they interact with customers and clients? Research if you can fill any gaps in the market with the way you showcase your business. If every contractor has a similar logo, make yours different. Strive to stand out. Understanding your audience and their reception to your ideas around branding is equally as important as sniffing around your competition. Ask questions to existing clients, find out what they think is working and what isn’t. What would make your audience warm to you more? It could be as simple as answering the phone lines in a more upbeat manner or a time-consuming website redesign. (2) Create a unique voice The tone and manner in which your company “speaks” to their audience is as important as the words themselves. Think about how you want your business to come across – hardline and no-nonsense or warm and approachable? Remember that age-old snippet of business jargon that “people buy from people”; it’s often true. Make your voice personable and engaging. Connecting with your target audience and client base is imperative, nobody likes to interact with a business that is robotic. (3) Handle social media well Every small business should be on some form of social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc – and use this to convey their brand identity. People tend to forget that social media can be seen by anybody, at any time. It’s a permanent imprint of you and your business. How often do we see celebrities drunkenly slag off someone on Twitter, wake up, regret it and delete the Tweet? But not after it’s been screen-grabbed and shared across the world. Bad social media conduct never goes away. Conducting yourself and representing your brand well on social media is imperative. Don’t engage in arguments, don’t have outlandish debates, don’t be racist or fascist or sexist or homophobic, don’t troll people, and certainly don’t ever slate your competitors. All of these will tarnish and damage your reputation beyond repair. Think before you post anything on social media. What message is it sending? Does it reflect your business values? Is what you’re about to say in the “voice” of your business? If you’re unsure, ask for a colleague’s opinion. It’s better to be safe than sorry and ensure you’re ‘on brand’ when it comes to social media. (4) Share knowledge Brand your business as the go-to information point for your sector. Use the knowledge you have to help configure and sculpt this area of your branding. You want to position yourself as a market leader, someone that all other brands look to. You can do this by sharing your knowledge, information and thoughts. If your company website doesn’t have a blog, get one. Use this to create written content that showcases your knowledge and brand. Positioning yourself and your business as the go-to for your sector is important as it builds customer trust and loyalty. Why would people go anywhere else if your business is branding itself as the best? (5) Be consistent Chopping and changing your brand can lead to confusion amongst your client base and potential customers. We all know brands can do it (Opal Fruit, anyone?) but fiddling with your already established branding can be an appalling waste of time and money. See the Royal Mail vs. Consignia fiasco of 2001 as a prime example. Above all else, be authentic. Faking it until you make it will get you nowhere. Stay true to yourself and your business, and don’t pretend to be something or someone that you’re not. Claire Beveridge is a writer and content producer at Crunch Accounting.
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