A bunch of company logos including facebook, twitter, and Instagram
In order to appeal to your target market and set yourself apart from your competitors, you must establish a compelling brand. Branding your business is more than just choosing a name and designing a splashy logo. Your brand is your business’ identity, including your core beliefs, values, and mission. It is also your message about your products and services and how you connect with your customers.
The steps below will help you brand your business in a way that will establish your credibility, motivate your target customer to buy, and create loyal customers.
1. Get to know your target market.
Before you can develop branding and messaging that will resonate with your customers, you must get to know them first. Perform market research to understand who your customers are both in terms of demographics (age, gender, location, income, passions, lifestyle, etc.) and psychographics (their wants, needs and frustrations). As soon as you can understand their emotions and how they feel about your topic, you can begin positioning your brand in a way that will motivate them to buy.
2. Define your message.
Now that you understand who your target customer is and what they want, think about the value that your business provides. What key message can you communicate to your customers that will motivate them to choose your brand over your competitors? How can you connect with them emotionally? How can you establish your credibility, so your customers have confidence that you can solve their problem? Think about your brand in terms of the benefits that your products and services provide, as well as your core beliefs.
3. Choose a business name.
A great business name clearly communicates who you are and what you do, is easy to remember and is simple to spell and pronounce. If your name creates intrigue and has a positive ring to it, even better. Brainstorm many ideas for your business name, and be sure to ask your friends and family for feedback.
After you’ve decided on a name for your business, take the time to find out if you need a “DBA.” Also known as “Doing Business As,” a DBA is the legal name you decide to give your business.
Most states require that you get a DBA, and sole proprietors and general partnerships operating their businesses under fictitious names may need to apply for a DBA certificate in the county where the business is physically located.
There are many benefits to establishing a DBA:
- It allows you to operate and advertise under your business name.
- It prevents other businesses from using the name within your state.
- You can obtain a bank account under your business name.
- You can accept checks written out to your business name.
- It gives you a more professional image.
To get a DBA, contact or visit your local county clerk’s office and ask for the requirements and fees. They will often conduct a complimentary name search for the intended business name to make sure it's not already taken.
You are not required to trademark your business name, but you may want to consider it. Trademarking provides you with additional protection, in case another business tries to use your business name or a name that is similar. Consider filing an application for a federal trademark if your company is doing business in several states. You can find out if you trademark is taken by using the search tool at the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office.
4. Design your logo.
Your logo is your visual representation of your brand, and it should clearly convey your brand image and make you stand out from the competition. Design a logo that is creative yet simple and includes two or three colors that match the tone of your brand. You also want to be sure that your logo is timeless, looks good in black and white as well as in color, and looks good both horizontally and vertically.
If you need help designing your logo, consider hiring a graphic designer to do it for you. Just be sure to brainstorm a few ideas and communicate what you are looking for. Find a few logos from other companies that you like, as well as colors and fonts that you want to use, and share them with your designer so you can be sure that you end up with a logo that represents your brand accurately.
5. Establish an online presence.
These days, every business needs a website to stay competitive. Design a website (or hire someone to design one for you) that matches your logo in its color and font scheme. Add your company story, information about your products and services and your contact information.
Choose one or two social media networks to post on regularly, and add links to your profiles to your website. Consider adding a blog to provide more value to your audience and generate more traffic to your website.
6. Develop long-term relationships with your customers.
The customer service you provide and the relationships you build with your customers are a vital part of your brand. Focus on how you can better serve your customers and provide them with even greater value and a higher quality experience. Respond to phone calls and emails promptly and personally, and engage with your audience on social media. Listen to customer complaints and feedback, and use the information to improve your products and services.
7. Be willing to pivot.
Great brands are not developed in a vacuum. Pay attention to the response you receive from your customers, and if your brand and messaging isn’t a match for what they’re looking for, don’t be afraid to make a change.
Ian Cowley, Managing Director of Cartridge Save, says that when they launched their business, they created a cartoon character named Dave the Badger to be the face of the business. But they soon realized that their customers weren’t interested in Dave. “In pouring our energies into creating him, we lost sight of what the customers really wanted; excellent service, fast delivery and the best possible prices,” Cowley says.
The company rebranded, lost Dave and created a new image around its core value: “make it easy for the customer,” which has resulted in more value and a better experience for their customers.
As you prepare to open your business, take some time to integrate branding into your marketing strategy and complete section 13 of MOBI’s business plan template, “Opening and Marketing.” For more help with marketing, sales and launching your business, sign up for MOBI’s Starting a Business course.