Interested in growing a business but not sure where to start? Branding should be a first step.
A brand is a company’s face to the world. It’s more than just a logo or tagline, but a culmination of what your company is. Branding is the fastest way for your company to express what it is and what it can offer. Through proper branding your company can increase its name recognition and differentiate itself from competitors.
Black-owned businesses especially are starting to face even more competition. Not only are Black owners competing with the masses, but the number of Black-owned businesses continue to rise as well.
From 2002 to 2007, Black-owned businesses increased by 60.5 percent to 1.9 million, more than triple the national rate of 18.0 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Survey of Business Owners.
“Black-owned businesses continued to be one of the fastest growing segments of our economy, showing rapid growth in both the number of businesses and total sales during this time period,” said Census Bureau Deputy Director Thomas Mesenbourg in a statement.
Numbers continue to rise, so how do you separate your company from the others?
Some ways to differentiate your company’s brand, or specialty, include by price, access, product, service or experience. According to smallbusinessbranding.com, power exists in being seen as an expert. Experts are not good at everything, but specialize in one thing. “If you’re trying to be everything to everybody, chances are you’ll attract no one.“ By establishing a unique brand value, customers are more likely to remember that value when they need it.
The following are some tips to help with branding your company:
1. Develop a mission statement that shows your company’s reason for existence. A mission statement provides, through words, the value that your business delivers to its customers. Once the statement is developed, use it as a model to remind yourself of what your customers expect.
2. Work with a graphic designer to establish a company logo. A logo should be representative of your brand. Once your logo is created, include it on every piece of communication. Make sure it is clear and visible on business cards, letterheads, envelopes, invoices, newsletters, yellow page advertisements and more. This will help potential and existing customers become more familiar with the face of your company.
3. Regularly write articles and issue press releases to the media, your website and directly onto the Internet. This will help to establish your company’s presence, or brand, to outsiders. The Internet is one of the most efficient ways to build and market your company to people who may not live in the same geographic location as your company or its headquarters. Press releases and articles distributed to your website and outside vendors can help to keep people current on what your company is doing.
4. Participate in events in your industry. Attending, speaking and or hosting at least two national and local industry conferences can help to increase your company’s name recognition.
5. Build and train a team of employees who understand the company’s mission and brand. Your employees are representatives of your company; make sure they know what the brand values are and represent. For example, brand values could include “environmentally friendly” or “cost effective” or “superior customer service.” If your employees are helping to sell your company through different, unidentified values, your brand could be damaged through inconsistent promises.
At the end of the day, startupnation.com advises that you should have clearly defined:
Your brand purpose: a logical snapshot of what you provide the market.
Your brand points of difference: things that are truly distinct that your competitors can’t copy.
Your brand personality: a collection of human-like traits and adjectives that best describe your brand.
Your brand promise: the emotional side of your purpose. If you were a tailor, your purpose would be to make and alter clothes and your promise would be to give people confidence when their clothing fits just right.
Branding is an ongoing process for businesses small and large. Once you establish your initial branding approach, don’t forget to get feedback through one-on-one interviews or customer surveys on ways your business can improve.
To share story ideas with Danielle Wright follow and tweet her at @DaniWrightTV
(Photo: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)