When I started my first company, I didn’t even think about branding. In all honesty, the business idea wasn’t very visionary either: after many years as a consultant and business developer, I started… a consultancy within business development!
My logo was classically navy blue, square-shaped, and I even managed to squeeze in the word “management” in my company name. I took the following steps in an equally careful manner, and started signing co-operation agreements with larger consultancy firms.
The strategy was totally OK. Except for the fact that none of this felt right for me! I quickly realized that I was tired of working with large organizations, sick of navy blue suits and slow decision making. I wanted to work with small businesses, with brave owners and a huge potential for creativity and growth!
Suddenly, it became very clear that both branding and strategy needed a complete makeover.
Today, I work entirely out of my passion and I’m proud of supporting my clients: small companies with a huge potential. And I communicate this in different ways: on my web page, in my logo and tagline, through speaking and writing in different channels.
The navy blue suit is but a memory, and it became a whole lot easier to run a business when the foundation was clear and in line with myself. Therefore, in this year’s last newsletter, I want to share some thoughts on branding.
So why should we care about branding? Well, because a clear brand ultimately makes it easier for us to make money! It’s a “shortcut” that makes it easier for your customers to understand who you are and what they can gain by buying from you.
If you want to build – or re-build – your brand, here are five tips:
Find your specialty! The clearer you are, the easier it is to relate to you. Profile yourself by choosing a clear target group or by highlighting your areas of specialty or your unique way of working.
Choose terminology! In which ways are you unique? Which values are important to you and your business? Choose three adjectives. Check with your customers how they really perceive you. Be prepared to change if there’s a significant discrepancy.
Communicate powerfully! Clearly tell your customers who they are and what you promise them. For example “The tastiest icecream for diabetics”, or “We help people over 50 make their next career move”…
Check the visuals! Do your logo and colors signal what you want? Are you consistent in your company materials? A well thought-through totality strengthens your brand.
Become an expert! When you share your knowledge, it’s easier to relate to and trust you. And the more trust, the bigger the chance for a business transaction. How would you like to build your expert status? Through blog posts, seminars, courses…?
Building a brand takes time. It requires strategic thinking, consistency and persistence. But: it’s fun – and it really helps your bottom line!
To all of you brave, energetic and creative business owners: a Merry Christmas and a wonderful, fun and successful 2014! I’ll see you again next year!