The words “Brand Development” can conjure up images of endless meetings, discussions, design iterations, and finally, that feeling of “What are we doing here, anyway?”
While all that can be true, Branding has become a necessary part of business success. I have found it helps to start with defining the essentials of your company’s identity — the Why, What, Who and How of your business.
I like to call this exercise “Speed Branding.”
For some, this might be enough, for others these beginning elements become four corners of a solid foundation they can build on.
Why: Finding Your “Why”
According to Simon Sinek, author, consultant and Ted Talker, it all starts with Why. He is famous for stating, that, in this post-mass market world, “People will buy Why you do something before they’ll buy What you do.”
So…Why are you in business? What excites you? What gives you the most professional satisfaction? What stops you from chucking it all and getting a job at the Post Office?
At one of my Branding Workshops, I asked these questions to the owner of a Beauty Salon. After some thought, she replied that she most enjoyed working with people who were down on their luck, divorced, or looking for work. She saw her purpose as giving them a new look and a fresh start. Her “Why” is empowerment through beauty, it emotionally connects her with her customers.
What: Your Core Competency
Focus on the one thing you do best. (Apple started with computers, Stabucks started with coffee.) Potential clients need a way to identify with you, and understand the service you provide. Muddying the waters by being all things to all people means they won’t think of you when a specific need arises.
When I started my business, I was a graphic designer. As with most of my kind, I started out offering a laundry list of creative services. Business only took off when I laser focused on promoting website design. I was then able to build relationships and credibility and, over time, clients were asking me for just about everything on that laundry list.
Who: Your Target Audience
I am always surprised that many small businesses owners are so busy getting the work done, they fail to give this one any serious thought. They wind up working for “anybody” who crosses their path. Who, exactly, are you looking to work with? Who is your perfect client? What do your best clients have in common?
Borrow a page from major corporations and put together “Marketing Personas” —fictional people who have the profiles of your ideal target audience. What is their age? Where do they live? How much do they earn a year? What interest do they have? Creating the fictional audience makes it easier to zoom in on the actual one—you know exactly who you’re looking for.
Give some thought to the type of client you are most compatible with. Generally speaking, your best fits are with clients who value your contribution, listen to your advice, treat you like collaborator and don’t haggle over the bill.
How: Your Point Of Differentiation
Finally, How do you differ from your competitors? What do you do that they don’t? What do you do better? What is it that makes people want to work with you? What is that makes you, you?
In this age of countless niche markets, where every business has access to the same tools, you need to get noticed before anything else can happens. Being different is more important than just saying that you’re better.
Don’t be afraid to inject your personality into your brand. Since this one can be harder to get a handle on, feel free to ask friends, associates and clients for feedback. You may find you have more fans the you realize.
So spend a few hours defining your own Four Corners. Whether you decide to do it yourself, or hire a professional, you’ll be staring with a solid foundation.