One of the first challenges a startup business faces is developing an effective brand strategy. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t think enough about branding, if at all. It just sort of happens by accident. By including brand development in your overall marketing plan, you will be ahead of the startup curve. Here are three simple ideas you should consider when developing your brand. These ideas, while developed with the startup in mind, can help any business that needs a cohesive brand strategy.
Understand what branding is
The key first step toward achieving any goal is to define it. If you asked ten business owners to define “branding”, you’d probably get ten different answers. In fact, a Google search of the term “define branding” yields more than 22 million results. For the purposes of this article, brand is defined as:
“A brand is a set of perceptions about the Company and its products. A brand resides within the hearts and minds of your customers. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot. To succeed in branding we must understand the needs and wants of your customers. We can do this by integrating your brand strategy through every point of public contact.”
A business that sells Apple products might think they need only to display the famous Apple logo to attract customers. That might be true if they were the only source of Apple products within a 50-mile radius, but such a scenario is not very likely. This Apple products provider would be better advised to find ways to distinguish themselves from their direct competitors in some way, then capitalize on that distinction. The good news is this is not complicated.
Keep it simple
One reason many businesses fail to create a cohesive brand strategy is they think it’s a complicated creative process, and that intimidates them. But effective branding can actually be quite simple. It often begins with a simple business model. A great example of this is a company called Silvercar.
Silvercar is creating a nice little niche in the airport car rental business. In an industry where providers offer several different choices of automobile style, size, and colour, with equally different pricing and fee structures, Silvercar offers one make, model, and colour. The make/model is the Audi A4. The colour, of course, is silver. This simplicity isn’t limited to the make and model of car, however. By using the Silvercar app, customers can reserve, pickup, and return their car without ever having to stand in line or interact at the rental counter.
Silvercar’s branding strategy is actually their business model itself. Simple, right?
Finally, you have to remain focused on your branding. The question you need to ask yourself is; “what do I want my company to be?” The answer should guide all your marketing decisions going forward. Nike’s Phil Knight said:
“We wanted Nike to be the world’s best sports and fitness company. Once you say that, you have a focus. You don’t end up making wing tips or sponsoring the next Rolling Stones world tour.”
Whether your company offers just a few products or services, or multiple items, your company brand should still be simple. It’s that simplicity that makes staying focused easier.
Here are two examples of this focus:
The Apple brand began in 1976 with the Apple I computer, although the Macintosh put them on the map. Today, Apple offers several different personal electronics products from iPods, to iPads, to laptop and desktop computers, and the Apple Watch. Their product line has varied over the years, but they’ve always focused on personal electronics.
42 Floors launched in 2012 with a niche service that allows expanding businesses to easily search online for office space available for lease. Their tagline “We scour the web for office listings, so you don’t have to” pretty much says it all. Even if they expand their service to include residential, farmland, and other real estate their comprehensive listings available by geographic location will continue as an effective focal point for their brand.
To learn more about how to develop a brand strategy to achieve company objectives, contact McAllister Marketing online or call 250-380-2299. We have a comprehensive, step-by-step approach to branding that will guide you through defining your brand in one productive session. In addition to branding, and whether you are a startup or an established business, McAllister Marketing offers a variety of strategies to help you market your business. We invite you to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see what we’re up to and how we can help your marketing needs.
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