Define your brand identity
Branding is more than just a logo you slap on your website. Your branding is who you are as a company; it’s your values and your mission, it’s the way you treat your customers, it’s the look and feel of your visual assets. So, before you can move forward with the more tactical steps in your branding strategy (like designing your logo), you need to take the time to get really clear on who you are as a company—or, in other words, your brand identity.
Figure out who you are
The more clarity you get on who you are and what you’re about, the more you can infuse that identity into your branding—and the more your brand will stand out and grab customers’ attention as a result.
Figure out who your target customers are
It might sound obvious, but there are tons of small businesses who put so much focus on figuring out who they are and what kinds of products or services they want to deliver that they completely neglect figuring out who they’re trying to sell those products or services to—and their branding suffers as a result.
Take some time to define your ideal customer. Who are they? How old are they? What kind of income and education do they have? Are they predominantly one gender? What are they looking for in the companies they do business with? What matters to them? When would they use your product or service—and why would they need it?
When you know who your target market is, you can use it to guide your branding strategy—and the end result will be a brand that truly connects with the customers you want to work with most.
Establish your POD (or brand “special sauce”)…
No matter what your business does, chances are, there are already other companies doing the same thing. So, if you want your business to stand out, you need to figure out what makes it stand out.
The thing that makes your business different from your competitors is called your point of difference (or POD). Your POD is what makes you special; it’s what makes a customer choose your company to do business with over your competitors—and it should be infused into every part of your branding strategy.
Your POD doesn’t have to be something earth-shattering. Think of it this way: if your company is a Big Mac, your POD is your “special sauce;” it’s what makes your company uniquely you. Do you only use ethically sourced ingredients in your products? Do you have the best customer service in the biz? Has your family business been serving the community for multiple generations? Whatever it is, figure out what makes your business stand out—and build that POD directly into your brand identity.
But also get clear on what’s working in your industry
You want your branding to stand out and be different. But if you want to have the most effective branding strategy, you also need to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s working (and what’s not working) in your industry).
Take stock of your competitors and what they’re doing. Do you notice any trends? For example, let’s say you’re launching a new financial consulting company—and when you check out your competitors, you notice they all have neutral color palettes in their logo design or they all focus their marketing efforts on Facebook instead of Instagram. While you (obviously) don’t want to steal or rip off your competitors’ branding, taking stock of industry trends can give you a sense of what’s connecting with your ideal market (and, just as importantly, what’s not)—and you can build out your brand identity accordingly.
Get visual with your branding
Logo and brand identity design by Agi Amri
Once you’ve defined who you are, who your customers are, what makes you special, and what’s working in your industry, it’s time to start actually designing your brand. This step is just as crucial for branding your small business as it is for larger businesses.
- A brand style guide. Before you start designing, it’s important to figure out the details of your design strategy, like your brand color palette, fonts, and design do’s and dont’s. A brand style guide is a great way to organize your design details and make sure you, your designer, and anyone else working on your brand is on the same page with your brand’s direction.
- A logo. Your logo is like the face of your company; it’s the first thing most of your customers will see when they encounter your brand—and it’s the visual asset that will be most closely tied with your business. Your logo should be the first thing you design, as it will act as the jumping off point for all of your other visuals (like your website and your business cards).
- Business cards. If you’re in business, you need a business card—and the design should match your logo and your other design assets.
- A website. Your website is like your company’s piece of digital real estate—and when people visit your website, the look and feel should be consistent with the rest of your branding.
Depending on your business, you might need additional branding assets (like product packaging or corporate letterhead), but the most important thing to keep in mind? No matter where a customer encounters your brand—whether it’s by seeing your logo or visiting your website or checking out one of your products in store—the look, feel, and design should be consistent. If you’re not consistent when branding your business, you risk confusing your customers—and, if they’re confused, you could lose them to the competition.
6 steps to grow your brand on a budget
When you’re first starting out in Knowledge Commerce, you likely don’t have unlimited means. You need to market your business if you’re interested in growing your brand, but you have to pinch your pennies in the process.
That’s not impossible. In fact, there are lots of ways to grow your brand on a budget. Following are the six most cost-effective ways to increase brand awareness without blowing your budget.
1. Get to know your target personas
A buyer persona is a fictionalized biography of your ideal customer. It describes that person’s goals, habits, struggles, problems, demographics, and other details so you can more effectively market to them.
Imagine how you would describe a character from your favorite television show. Where does he work? What are the main sources of conflict in his life? How does he spend his time? How much money does he make? Where does he live?
Answering all of these questions will help you get to know your ideal customer more intimately. Consequently, every piece of content or copy you write will speak directly to that person.
For instance, if your target customer is a young single mother with a full-time job and a small apartment or house, you would approach content differently than if you were targeting a middle-aged family man with kids in college and a low-stress job. You have to think like your customers if you want your products to appeal to them.
2. Develop your unique brand voice
Have you ever read Seth Godin’s blog? It’s an excellent example of a consistent voice in Knowledge Commerce. Godin’s voice (sparse, question-oriented, and inspiring) translates well into his books, his speeches, and his other endeavors. He’s great at metaphors, so he uses them liberally.
Your voice should resemble the way you’d talk to a friend or family member. Are you naturally funny? Do you tell lots of stories? Can you express complex ideas in easy-to-understand ways?
3. Build a consistent social media presence
You might have heard that social media is the new blog. We don’t quite agree with that — there are lots of benefits of blogging — but we don’t discount the benefits of social media, either.
According to a MarketingSherpa study, 58 percent of respondents reported that they follow at least one brand on social. Clearly, consumers don’t just use social media to check in with people they know.
Start by choosing the best social platforms for your Knowledge Commerce business. Do lots of your prospects hang on on Twitter? Do they congregate on Facebook? Are they sharing photos on Instagram?
Then start building up your presence on those platforms. Follow influential people in your industry, engage with people who discuss your niche, and make your profile as professional as possible.
4. Start a blog — And keep it updated
Blogging is essential for Knowledge Commerce professionals, so don’t just start a blog — keep it updated. Share news about your business, start a blog series to introduce a new online course, or share little-known tips with your audience.
5. Devote yourself to customer service
Your brand should revolve around how you treat customers. Demonstrate that you’re willing to answer questions, resolve complaints, and share your knowledge with the rest of the world. answer customer questions and resolve their complaints. Communication with customers can be time-consuming. If your company is large enough, you can make it more efficient and faster with office phone systems or a ticketing system.
6. Partner With Other Knowledge Commerce Professionals
You can do that with your Knowledge Commerce business. Partner with other professionals who have more customers or stronger brands than your own. Find ways to help those professionals.
22 strategies to build brand awareness
Having a brand-awareness strategy in place can help you grow faster and manage your reputation more easily. We’ve come up with 22 brand-awareness strategies to stimulate your imagination.
1. Host a webinar
You can use webinars to answer customers’ questions, demonstrate a particular skill or process, provide a tutorial, introduce new digital products, or generate excitement about your business. Don’t be afraid to try new formats and to engage with your audience in real time.
If you host a live webinar, consider making it available as a recording on your blog or website. That way, it will continue to drive traffic and conversions long after the event ends.
2. Start a referral program
Referral programs encourage your customers to share your business with their friends and other acquaintances. They might get a discount on your online courses, a free month of membership to your membership site, or some other benefit.
As a result, you get a new paying customer who might refer friends of their own. While referral programs might seem like they cost you money, they can actually multiply your revenue many times over.
3. Offer to guest blog
Content marketing doesn’t just work on owned media. Guest posting on other publications’ blogs can give you access to new audiences and generate backlinks for your Kajabi website.
Think of guest blogging as Internet marketing’s answer to visiting a brick-and-mortar business and handing out your own business cards. It’s even more effective, though, because you get the chance to demonstrate your credibility and your knowledge.
4. Create and share infographics
5. Get social with your customers
Social media isn’t just for linking to your latest blog posts or announcing the launch of the new online course. It’s also — or perhaps mostly — for engaging with people on a personal level.
When your customers follow you on social media, engage them in conversations. Ask them questions, thank them for their patronage, and answer their questions. When you share stories and otherwise socialize with your customers, they feel more entrenched in your business. Consequently, they will be more likely to buy your future digital products.
6. Surround yourself with influential people you admire
Additionally, if you surround yourself with influential people, consumers will begin to associate your name with tears. As we mentioned above, your brand can grow exponentially simply by association with a stronger brand.
7. Take advantage of LinkedIn publishing
You can depend on organic traffic to drive potential customers to your content, but that will take time. Speed up this process by publishing content on a platform that already has a built-in audience.
LinkedIn publishing is one prime example. Everyone in your network will see your posts and can share them with their own audiences. Plus, people you don’t know can find your content more easily and find ways to connect with you.
8. Start your own medium account or publication
Just sign up for your own account on Medium, click on your profile icon, and click “New Story.” You can then write your own article in the interface or paste an article that you’ve written elsewhere.
9. Create a podcast
10. Try PPC advertising
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising offers a faster way to build your brand and gain exposure. You get to set your budget, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank, and you can refine your audience so your brand message only gets seen by people in your target demographic.
Keep in mind that PPC advertising works best for consumers at the bottom of the funnel. Provide a can’t-miss offer that will encourage consumers to click and, ultimately, buy your products.
11. Don’t neglect content marketing
12. Optimize your content for search engines
13. Try remarketing campaigns
Remarketing helps boost brand awareness by displaying your brand to people who have already encountered it before. It’s like seeing a television commercial, then seeing the same one (or a similar one) the next day. You’re more likely to remember the brand.
14. Test paid social advertising strategies
Test social advertising using a small budget. See if you get a decent ROI and if conversations about your business become more common. The goal is to get people used to your brand image so they remember what you do and how your business can benefit them.
15. Hold a contest
Whatever the case, encourage people to spread the word about your contest, especially on social media. You could offer double entries, for example, to people who retweet about the contest. Just make sure that the giveaway directly relates to your business.
10 Tips To Help You Build A Successful Small Business Brand
A brand is the sum total of the experiences your customers and potential customers have with your company. A strong brand communicates what your company does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility. Your brand lives in everyday interactions with your customers, the images you share, the messages you post on your website, the content of your marketing materials, and in your posts on social networks.
1. Be unique. One of the most iconic brands of our time – Apple – was reborn after it launched, in 1997, an innovative campaign inviting people to “Think Different”. Today, Apple products are perceived to be better designed, more fun, and more reliable than products from Apple’s competitors. What makes your business unique? What’s your story? What do you do that others in your industry do not do?
2. Grow your community. Many of the world’s best brands, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Virgin, and Skype, spend modest sums on advertising and instead, focus on building and improving their communities. Those companies understand that if people trust a brand’s community, they will extend trust to the brand.
Small businesses have many opportunities to build online and offline communities. For example, you can build online communities on Twitter, Facebook, your small business blog, on Instagram, or on other social networks. And remember that you can’t be in all places at once. Pick one or two places where you can focus building your community, and invest your time and resources there.
3. Build great products and services. Earlier this year, market research firm Millward Brown published its annual BrandZ study, ranking the world’s leading brands. When you consider that the number one reason people write about brands is to share experiences (see graphic below from the BrandZ study), Apple’s top ranking is not surprising – people love Apple’s products.
Some companies stop focusing on building great products and services when they become successful. This is a mistake. In 2008, Nokia was the world’s ninth most valuable brand. In 2011, Nokia was ranked 81st and this year, it fell even further. Even a strong brand will suffer when it creates average or below average products or services.
4. Have a good name and logo. A strong brand is easily recognizable. Recognition starts with the name of your business. The name will appear on your business cards, letterhead, website, social networks, promotional materials, products, and pretty much everywhere in print and online to identify your company or your company’s products and/or services.
It’s not enough to have a recognizable name. People commonly associate brands with the brand’s logo. As you think about your logo, keep your audience and products/services in mind because you want your logo to reflect your company. A good logo builds trust and a strong logo will help to pull your brand together. Think about the logos of some of the world’s most admired brands (Apple, Google, Amazon). How do you feel (emotionally) when you see their logos?
5. Find your voice. What you say is important, but don’t overlook how you say it. Your company’s “voice” is the language and personality you and your employees will use to deliver your branding message and reach your customers. Successful brands speak with a unique voice. Think about the brands you admire – what makes them unique? How do they communicate with you and other customers? What do you like about their voice?
6. Be consistent. Many small businesses mistakenly change their messaging depending on their audience. For example, a company might take a more serious tone on their website but a very lighthearted tone on their Facebook fan page. This can confuse your customers and potential customers. To build and maintain a strong brand, every aspect of your brand should be as good as your product or service and you must be consistent in presenting your brand. This includes not only your company’s name, logo, overall aesthetic design, products and services, but also includes your marketing materials, website, appearances at trade shows and conferences, content posted to social networks, etc.
Many of you recall that Duct Tape Marketing recently redesigned its website to better and more effectively communicate with customers and potential customers. The old site was cluttered and at times, confusing. A cleaner design and greater consistency resulted in significant benefits.
7. Keep your promises. Although this is common sense, you’d be surprised how many small businesses tarnish relationships with their customers by failing to keep their promises. Happy customers who feel good about your business are your best source of referrals. For example, Zappos has built great trust and credibility with customers by promising quick delivery (2-5 business days) but Zappos goes even further and upgrades most customers to free overnight shipping. As a result, Zappos has very loyal and zealous customers.