What Does Your Brand Mean to You? If You Don’t Know, Why Would Your Customers Care?
Customer experience is, arguably, one of the most important factors that can make or break a small business. If the customer experience is poor, most likely that business is going to flounder and, ultimately, fail. Eighty percent of small business fail within the first 18 months (Forbes), and many for some common reasons. One of those is poor brand development.
If the customer experience is positive, the reputation of that company expands and develops a positive brand.
While there are certainly international conglomerates that seem as though they couldn’t care less about customers and their experiences, small businesses thrive or fail based on what their customers experience, report, and say, even if they don’t say it to the company itself.
Customers want to connect emotionally with small businesses. They want to feel some kind of common theme, common pain or frustration, common understanding. That’s where the brand becomes an integral part of the small business development process.
Do you understand your brand?
Many small business owners may have the wrong idea of what their ‘brand’ is. They may think it’s being a clothing retailer, restaurant, or sports betting franchise, for example. That’s the niche, a category, an industry. That’s not the brand.
What easily identifies your small business from all others competing for the valuable resources of your target audience (consumers) and their dollars? What separates you from your competitors? What sets you apart?
What is the one thing that customers can quickly and easily identify with your company that will linger with them long after they’ve seen your ad, made a purchase, or visited your online or physical store?
This is your brand. This is the identifying mark that leaves an impression.
Make Your Brand Easily Identifiable
In other words, your business’s name should give some indication of what it offers. Whether it’s products or services, consumers should quickly and easily be able to tell whether you offer sports apparel, health and beauty products, clothing, or even some type of service.
Being as short and succinct as possible is one of the best ways to develop a brand. A long, complicated, difficult to pronounce (or spell, as it pertains to web addresses) company name is not going to do you any favors over the long haul.
You don’t have to specifically have a business name that tells a consumer everything, but it should be memorable and at least open the door to the tagline or elevator pitch that will reveal the most important details.
If you can’t develop a memorable, short, succinct business name, make sure the tagline is spot on. It may be best to hire a quality copywriter to help you create this.
Develop a Story
This small business is important to you. You aren’t sacrificing your valuable time, energy, and financial resources to build something that isn’t vital to your life. Behind the reason for this small business is a story your consumers will want to know.
The name of your company should have some kind of meaning behind it and your ‘About’ page should detail your history, your motivation, and your raison d’etre (reason to be).
When consumers have an opportunity to connect on an emotional level with a small business (owner), it has a powerful impact on their willingness to purchase products and services from it, even if they have never done so before.
Consumers want to see a part of themselves in a small business they are considering handing over their hard-earned dollars to. When you develop a story that’s genuine, truthful, and emotional, it will make a difference in the lives of your target market.
Be as Transparent as You Can
While you’re building this small business, you are going to face challenges. A negative customer experience can certainly impact you for weeks and possibly even months. While you won’t likely be able to please everyone, being as transparent as possible is going to limit the negative experiences of your customers, especially as you gain your footing.
Be open and transparent with all available information so your customers won’t feel cheated during any aspect of the process. If they have questions, comments, or concerns, listen to them.
Avoid the temptation of getting frustrated and dismissing negative comments outright; instead, take the time to listen and respond to those questions and comments and concerns. Even if they’ve already left you negative reviews online, be gracious and humble in your response.
Do not be combative!
Other customers will see that you truly wanted to address those issues with sincerity and that perhaps it wasn’t a problem with your company or brand, but rather the consumer who left the review. That will help to actually grow and strengthen your ‘brand.’
Know your Limitations
When you’re building a brand, there’s only so much you can do with limited experience. You may have been an exceptional manager and company leader for a decade or more, but do you have quality skills in web development and design, copyrighting, marketing, and so forth?
If not (and most people don’t possess the skills in all of these areas) you need to know when and where to outsource. When you’re building your brand, every word, every design, every impression is going to matter.
Taking months to determine whether what you developed was worthwhile or not is going to cost more and more money and valuable resources. Most small businesses can’t afford that. It’s better to hire or outsource for certain components when building your brand to those with true experience and exceptional results.
Always View Your Brand as Your Reputation
Most people want a stellar reputation among family, friends, and their general community. If you think about your business’s brand like you do your personal reputation, you’ll want to take steps to keep it polished and clean.
Make it easily recognizable, understandable, and positive. Over time, your brand may adjust slightly, but for the most part from the outset you want it on solid ground, anchored in a great foundation upon which to build a growing customer base.