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  • Writer's pictureCascade Communications

What is Your Brand? Why it Can Make, Break Your Business

Starting a business can seem like a daunting task with applications and business plans, but if you don't know or understand what your brand is, you might as well throw all of that in the trash.

how to brand a small business I top brand firm tips

Consumer perception is 9/10ths of the rule always, not sometimes but always, and how you present yourself

to potential clients from the moment you open your doors can determine your success as a business owner.

Over the years I've encountered many small businesses, entrepreneurs and even corporations with fantastic ideas that could easily have grown their businesses, but they had a miserable brand identity, and eventually failed to tell their story in a way that would connect with customers.

Think of it this way, as a consumer yourself, you've probably hit the web regularly to research contractors, vendors, gifts, products, network, you name it. What you may not realize is that you are impacted with the first impression the website gives you. If it looks cheap you will determine it is cheap and go to another site to make a purchase or hire a vendor. Without a strong brand identity you are losing business everyday.

What constitutes brand identity? Here are eight key elements to developing a strong brand:

1. Define your story: Understanding the story behind your company is key to creating a brand identity, voice and personality of the company that relays that story across all platforms. Great brand stories make people feel something. It is the first step to branding -> creating a positive perception of what you stand for. Clearly define how you will tell this story across different channels with consistency but meeting the needs of that channel - website, social media, PR, marketing materials, etc.

2. Company name and logo - this should describe to people all the things you want them to see your business as - professional, timely, quality, what industry you're in, etc. I know people who have developed their own logos on their home computers, but if you lack the vision it's worth it to hire a graphic designer.

3. Your website - It's a must in today's world to market yourself and worth the investment. There are a number of professionals out there who specialize in working with small businesses and provide quality websites to meet all business needs. Remember, the website in conjunction with your logo are the first impression people get of your company and can, alone, determine whether they will hire or buy from you. There are so many options out there that no one should have a bad, cheap looking website.

4. What you just as important as how and where you say it and where you say it. It's easy for us to get caught up in the techno mumbo jumbo of our respective industries. Stop and take a step back to consider your audience/customer and make sure that you speak directly to them in a language that translate into meeting their needs. Moreover, every avenue you use to tell your story requires a different approach. Catering your message to meet people where they are in a language they understand, and that expresses your brand personality.

5. Your product - The quality, affordability and buyer's satisfaction of your product and service will determine whether the customer/client will become long-term.

6. Packaging - Customers will perceive your brand and company based on well-designed and printed packaging. For retail-ready products, the packaging not only has to be well-designed and printed, but explain easily what the product is and does.

7. Marketing - where you market, what audience you're communicating to and how you are using your marketing dollars can either result in sales or not. Yet another reminder that you should KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE and what they need, want. This helps narrow down where you should tell your brand story either through PR, advertising or partnerships. Tips for how to use PR to tell your brand story.

8. The Connection you create with customers through their perception of your business, its story and the value they believe your company/product/service has, as well as the overall customer experience from first click to delivery. Does the story of your business create community? Does your brand stand for something or have a social mission that can create a connection?

Altogether, these eight things can determine your business's success and ability to create a real brand. So, it warrants serious consideration before opening your doors. As my father said growing up "it's important to always put your best foot forward".

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