Before I begin to delve into “Why every business should have a brand”, a little personal case study:
My dad’s a self-employed electrician. He’s done the job for something like 40 years and he has no need for any new clients, because the ones he has are repeat and loyal customers who will continue to work with him through to retirement. He doesn’t need a website, he doesn’t need business cards. Word of mouth gets him enough business off the back of his outstanding reputation. My dad, as he has told me time and time again, “doesn’t want or need a brand”.
The thing is, he already has one… he just doesn’t realise it.
Brand is more than a logo, a catchy name, a website, or a set of pretty stationery items… My dad’s brand is the set of standards and values he represents: reliability, quality work, fair price, and decades of experience.
So, why should every business have a brand? Because it’s going to secure your future, build your business and create a strategy for success.
Any business, of any size – from one-(wo)man-bands to multinational corporations – can reap the benefits of a brand strategy. If you have nothing else, a brand strategy is going to enable you to find fans and advocates, help you employ the right people, keep you true to your values and will allow your customers to build trust in your business and keep them coming back for more.
Brand strategy is made up of the following things: Who you are, what you do, and how you do it.
In marketing speak, these things could be termed as;
- Business values
- Business goals / targets
- Planned actions
If you want to create a brand strategy to boost your business, start thinking about these core three things;
These are the things that define who you are as a business. Values should be steadfast and long-term if your customers are going to learn to trust them. It could be that you are mindful of the environment in all you do, perhaps you strive to support people in hard to access areas, or maybe it is important that your business is always affordable. Whatever it is, it has to be authentic and true. Don’t be tempted into buzzwords or things you think you “should” be. Think of your values as the foundation blocks of everything you do. They are what you will become known for – your “brand essence” – and are the basis of your reputation. All of your actions as a business should uphold them, reinforce them and reflect them and to allow you build trust with your audience.
Business goals / targets
These are the things you want to achieve. In my dad’s case; provide reliable and fairly priced electrical services, of a type that gains a loyal customer base that enables him to sail through to retirement without worrying about “the next job”. My dad’s example is quite a straightforward one, but you might have long-term and short-term goals as well as the overall “ideal” outcome of your efforts. Write them all down and you will have the target for your strategy.
Everything you do as a business should uphold your values and drive you closer to your goals. Bringing the two together in everything you do will be your brand strategy in action. Your messaging will be consistent and on point, your activities will have focus, and your customers will know exactly what to expect from you. Put time aside once in a while to make a plan of intentional actions for your business. What activities can you do to make sure you do to achieve your goals? And how will you make sure you always have your values at the very heart?
Once you have a brand strategy, you might want to think about things such as a visual identity that reflects your values, a refocused website, and other bits and pieces that can really bring a great brand strategy to life.