One of the great things about running your own small business is getting to do things your way. The success or failure of your business largely depends on the decisions you make, a notion that’s equal parts inspiring and terrifying to anyone who’s ever considered becoming an entrepreneur. While having the ability to run the business as you see fit has its advantages, it also comes with a potentially significant drawback – the tremendous workload that accompanies being the person alone at the top.
Additionally, certain aspects of the business – like building customer relationships – may come naturally to you, while other equally important areas – such as marketing – can seem like a challenge. For those without the experience and knowhow, developing a brand to market can become one of the biggest stumbling points when launching a new business. While a strong brand offers the potential for creating a successful business that stands out from your competition, mishandling the creation of your brand can spell disaster.
To help start your business in the right direction, here are a few common branding mistakes many small businesses make.
When starting a new business, it’s not uncommon to find yourself struggling to get all of the little details into place before your launch date. This can lead to inconsistencies in your brand’s appearance which can result in everything from your business cards having a different font than your promotional materials to your Facebook banner not matching the home page of your website. While these small discrepancies might not seem like a big deal when compared to the bigger picture of running the day-to-day operations of your business, they can distract from a brand as a whole.
Customers and clients love to see consistency when they consider doing business with a new company. Small little details that don’t match can develop into big problems when someone from the outside looks into whether to do business with your company.
If you run a boutique that features the sleekest fashion designs, what does it say to customers if the fonts on your website don’t match? If you run a bakery that mistakes terms like “gluten free” with “non-dairy” in menu descriptions, how will that build trust among your customers? If you build your brand on integrity and honesty, but don’t feature plans or pricing on your website, what kind of message does that send?
When it comes to building a creditable brand there’s no such thing as over-sweating the small stuff.
Failing to Establish a Consistent Voice
Your brand is more than just a great looking logo. A successful brand speaks to its target audience, and that conversation helps build the trust and loyalty needed to separate yourself from the competition.
Creating a consistent voice requires having a clear idea of what your brand stands for and how you want it represented to the public. This means that every Facebook post, Instagram image, email marketing newsletter, and advertisement you release need to share a common voice that is easily recognizable to your target audience.
You can see examples of using a consistent voice in nearly every successful major brand. Ford has built its voice around the idea of being tough and dependable. McDonalds as a place for family and friends to meet. Old Spice as absurdist humor at its best. How ever you decide to market your brand, make sure the tone stays consistent whenever speaking to your audience. They will recognize and reward you once you’ve establish a tone that resonates.
Ignoring the Competition
When developing your own brand, one of the best places to start is by examining the branding of your competition. Not only will this provide you a starting point, it also provides you a bar to clear. After all, if your brand can’t at least stand up to the competition’s how do you hope to compete?
If you share a brand with a competitor odds are you’ll also share a target audience, and they will already have spent time and money learning how to successfully reach them. Take the opportunity to get a head start on developing your own brand identify by analyzing how they communicate with customers, respond on Facebook to comments, and structure sales and discounts through email marketing. Not only will you learn a thing or two about what works best with your future customer base, you’ll also gain insight on what you need to do to become more competitive.
Forgetting the Customer Always Matters
You can develop a great looking brand that strongly resonates a consistent voice to its target audience and still fail as a business by forgetting the needs of your customer base.
Marketing research and branding go together like peanut butter and chocolate, baseball and hot dogs, or a Kardashian and drama. You can’t have one without the other. Your brand must answer the needs of your target audience. You need to provide solutions to their problems and speak to them in a way they will respond to.
If you’re a dentist that wants to establish a practice perfect for patients with busy lives you need to offer early morning and evening appointment times. If you’re a bar that wants to develop more after work business you need to offer compelling happy hour specials. If you’re a furniture store that wants to improve demand, offer same day delivery. To improve customer satisfaction and build lasting loyalty, remember to always keep the needs of the customers as your top priority.
Focusing on the Short-Term
The most successful brands evolve naturally over time. While you want to create a strong brand from day one, you still need to allow room for it to naturally grow over the years.
Innovation promises to constantly change what your customers will demand of your business going forward. Having the ability to innovate as quickly as your competition will be a key part of staying competitive. Sometimes innovation requires retooling your brand. You need to have the ability to slowly implement small, but impactful, changes as your target market shifts. While the best brand improvements occur slowly and subtly, they are always done to enhance the lives of the customers.