Build a Better Brand: Marketing Tips and Shortcuts for Startups
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by Emma Sturgis
March 02, 2016
You can think of your brand as a business version of someone's reputation or "good name." It is a nutshell version of how people think of the company, how much they trust the company and the values for which it stands. Here are a few core concepts for building your brand
The famous designer and businesswoman Coco Chanel said, "In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” So, ask yourself, “What do we do differently from our competitors? What makes us stand out from the crowd?” Then make sure you communicate this to customers and others. This is an essential part of your brand.
Build Great Relationships
A customer is someone accustomed to getting the quality of service you deliver. Good branding is not a facade. It is a summation of who you are. It is shorthand for all that the business does. Focus on building great relationships to your customer base and they will build your reputation for you. It doesn’t matter what industry your startup falls under—building relationships with fellow specialists and customers alike can do wonders for your brand perception. If you're starting out in the catering industry, for instance, get a custom made apron displaying your logo to turn your customer interactions into branding opportunities. Relationships and brand establishment go hand-in-hand, so be on the lookout for opportunities to both build bridges and promote your business.
Pick a Good Name
Many small businesses think a good name is descriptive. This is not necessarily true. Instead, good names are typically pithy, easy to remember and easy to spell. Many industry giants are remembered by a single word, even if that is not really their full name, like Aflac. Aflac is actually an acronym for "American Family Life Assurance Company." It is sort of like when we call a man “Bill” instead of “William”. They wanted to rebrand themselves without going through the hassle of legally changing their name, so they went with the acronym. This helped them achieve high name recognition and become an industry giant.
You cannot be all things to all people. In order to have a brand, you need a reputation or image. You cannot achieve this if you put on a new face for different media or in different settings. Think of your brand as the face of the company. You need to paint the same portrait over and over in order to develop that image in the mind's eye of the public. So, whether your message is being delivered via billboard, letterhead or tweet, make sure it gives people a consistent impression.
Take a Stand
Be ethical, keep your promises and take a stand. What are the values your company espouses? Make a short list of core values, then stick to them in both word and deed. Remember: Your brand is not just a superficial impression. It is an image that captures something real about the company. It is a symbolic representation of a great many things, all rolled up neatly into a small package that people can easily wrap their minds around.
In short, first know who you are. Your brand is just the company's public image or good name. If you know what you are trying to accomplish and what value the company brings to the table, branding is just trying to effectively communicate those core values, both in the details of how you work and via advertising campaigns.