One of the things I’ve learned from coaching aspiring and established entrepreneurs is that for the most part they really have limited understanding of branding a business for success. In fact, most small businesses think that branding is about their website, logo, tag line and business card. While those are important elements of a brand—they in themselves are not your brand and come later after your true brand is created.
The way I explain it to my business coaching clients is that your brand is about you BEING, SAYING and DOING. The BEING part is determining how you want to show up in the marketplace, how you want your potential clients to think and feel about you and your product or service. Then, what do you SAY (or promise) is based on who you want to be. What you DO then solidifies your brand experience.
When you realize that branding is a process about the way your business is perceived, interpreted, talked about and remembered, you’ll be more determined than ever to work on your branding BEFORE you even think about calling a graphic designer or web developer. I know firsthand from working in the design industry for 15 years that most of my clients came to me without any knowledge of any of the above which left it all in MY hands instead of theirs. Lucky for them I knew what I was doing and had the business branding strategy background, but that’s not always the case.
If you are an aspiring entrepreneur and you want to build a thriving small business and a brand that is easily recognizable AND profitable, then here are the top three things you must do FIRST:
- Develop a personal brand that will magnetize clients. Clearly define who YOU want to be in the marketplace. It’s not enough to look at what others are doing and be a copycat. Your brand needs YOUR imprint. When your ideal client recognizes the authenticity in what you offer, they will gravitate to you and be attracted to the product or service you have to offer. Being YOU is really the only true difference between you and the next person offering something similar. So don’t be afraid to add your personal flavor to your business. Even if it’s something weird or quirky, be you and your ideal client will love it.
- Get clear on who YOU want to work with. Many times when first starting out, entrepreneurs want to connect with everyone thinking they might miss out on a getting a new client. That just isn’t how this thing works! Unless you have a huge marketing budget to throw out into the atmosphere with the hopes of landing some clients, you want to determine who those potential clients are in advance so that you can target them specifically. So, get real specific on what part of your target market’s attention you want to capture and then focus your marketing time and dollars attracting them. Once you’ve clearly identified your ideal client, it makes all of your marketing efforts easier because you’re able to speak directly to that person you want to reach creating an instant connection.
- Create your brand message. Your message should clearly illustrate the promise you are making to your ideal client and identify what makes you stand out from your competitors. This overall message about your brand is used in all of your business communications and marketing. Whether it’s your business card, website, or a brochure, the message should be clear and consistent. Make sure you also have a brief and succinct version of your brand message in the form of what some call an elevator pitch. You will need to be able to get your message across in a very short period of time letting others know what you do without losing their attention.
So before you pick up that phone to call your web designer, graphic designer, or even a photographer, be sure to go through your branding process and get an understanding of who you are as a brand as well as the ideal client you serve. You’ll be able to give clear direction to your designer that will help in getting the results you want to attract more clients and make more money in your business.