Once upon a time, businesses were encouraged to work on their mission statement.
This sometimes entailed marathon meetings to try to develop a statement that would encompass and describe the company’s goal.
But wait! The company also had to have a vision statement. How were they going to get there? What will it look like?
Sometimes these efforts resulted in a defining, clear-cut statement that told clients and prospects exactly what the company’s goals were and how they would deliver on those goals.
Sometimes these efforts resulted in a muddied, long-winded phrase that used a lot of words that really meant nothing to the company’s clients and prospects.
And, sometimes, it uncovered an inability for the company to clearly identify their purpose and communicate anything!
Now it’s all about branding!
Sounds fancy, right? After all, for years, we identified ‘brand’ with mega corps like Coke, Nike, and IBM. No one really stopped to think that all businesses should have their own unique brand.
After all, branding is simply an embodiment of all those elements we worked so hard on in the ‘90’s, creating a unified message that makes your business easily and instantly recognizable.
If you are looking to develop your brand – or if you already have created your brand but want to ensure it is strong – consider these top three elements.
1. What is your business?
Seems obvious, but sometimes we are so busy working in our business that it can be difficult to take an outside view. Take the time to really evaluate what your business is, and what that looks like. Perhaps you offer a variety of products or services, but what is at the core of your business? Ask yourself what is the key motivation for your business? Why do you do what you do? If you could only do one thing, what would it be? Questions like this can be very revealing, and you might be surprised to discover that your reason for being in your chosen business is very different than what you initially thought. Be sure to write your answers down.
2. Who is your ideal customer?
Another apparently obvious, yet often overlooked, question. If you sell tools and nails, sure you can sell to anyone who comes in the door, but who is your ideal customer? Do you cater to the contractors or to the handyman? I have a client who is a financial planner. He offers everything from insurance to mutual funds to education funds – and everything in between. But who is his ideal client? Where does he want to focus? Is it on the young families, becoming established and raising children? Is it on the middle-aged crowd who have children in college and are now starting to build their net worth? Or is it the retirees, who are now empty-nesters with pensions and an asset base, who need help with planning for their retirement years and the transfer of assets to their children and grandchildren. Once you have identified your ideal customer, you will better understand how you need to communicate your business services to capture their attention.
3. What is your marketing plan?
A marketing plan is not the same as an advertising campaign. A marketing plan is a strategy that is thoughtfully created and executed. It needs to embody things like your logo and corporate colors. An ideal logo will do one of two things; it will be a symbol that tells your clients instantly what your business does, or it will be a symbol that becomes synonymous with your business in the eyes of your clients and prospects. And remember that colors are important. They need to be visually pleasing and create a sense of warmth and trust. Colors that fight with each other or are too startling create subconscious ‘eye-fatigue’ and turns prospects away.
But remember that a marketing plan is much more than this! Once you have created your logo and determined the corporate colors, your marketing plan needs to be built around this foundation, ensuring that they are used consistently to build your brand. How will you communicate your products and services to your clients and prospects? What methods will you use, and how often will you reach out to them. If you are unsure about how to develop a marketing strategy, it would be beneficial to hire an outside consultant to help establish the structure and to assist with keeping it on track.
So get started today! Implement these 3 fundamentals of brand development and you’ll be on your way to building a solid brand for your business.
Until next time…
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