Small businesses who want to grow in a big way should create a brand definition, which is a focused story about who you are, what you do, what makes you different and who you can best help. This brand definition can then be used to inform and inspire your communications – your business writing, speaking, and brand designs. And, it can be translated into a business story that is memorable, compelling and engaging.
Having a well-defined business story helps business owners and people working for your business (like employees, consultants and other businesses) to work together to drive your business forward. It also helps customers engage with your business. Here’s how:
For Business Owners:
Organizes your thinking. If you’re just starting your business or beginning the branding process, you may feel jumbled or disorganized in your thinking about your value, your mission, your differentiation, or even your offerings. You may not have a full picture of who your best clients are. If that’s the case, creating a brand definition will help you to get really clear about what you’re doing and why. This clarity can help you to communicate more clearly, to come up with better marketing plans and campaigns, and to direct your brand effectively.
Allows you to build your brand strategically. Your brand definition helps you map out how you’d like to present your business, what you plan to provide to your clients, and who you’d like to work with. Then, you can measure your business’s performance against this map and make sure that you’re on course.
Brings consistency. If you have no brand definition, you may wind up giving an inconsistent impression – because you’re “making it up” on the spot. Speaking, writing and designing your marketing pieces consistently will bring repetition into your marketing efforts. Repetition is great for small businesses because it gives your prospects multiple, similar impressions of your business and this helps them learn about and remember you.
Separates your business from you. Once you define your business brand, you have begun to build a business – not just a freelancing practice. Even if you are still a single person, working in a spare bedroom, in your pajamas, a brand definition lets your customers perceive you as a full-fledged business. This can help you ask for – and get – higher prices and more respect for your products and services.
Gives you a central message. Instead of creating promotion-based marketing (basing your marketing on discounts or specials), you’ll be able to base your marketing around your message and content. Selling your thinking can lead to higher credibility and higher prices.
Helps your clients tell others about you. Have you ever tried to recommend someone’s services and not been able to fully describe what they do? This is a common branding failure. It’s easier – and more effective – for clients to pass along a brand story in a consistent, organized way. And, if your clients pass the word about you and give you referrals and increased word-of-mouth, then you win.
For People That You Hire (Employees, Consultants and Supporting Businesses)
Provides guidance. Your brand definition can help people that you hire to see the road that you are driving your business down. This can show them how they can best help you and how they can best help you reach your destination.
Gets them moving in the same direction. If you have several people working with you on your business at once, but they’re all pulling in different directions, you’re likely to spend a lot of effort getting nowhere. But, if everyone you hire knows where they’re supposed to be headed, then they will be able to combine their efforts, move together, and get better results.
Reduces the possibility that they’ll make it up themselves. Unless you’re hiring someone to remodel your business, you probably don’t want them to make up what your business is all about. After all, you got into business to make your vision a reality. Help your supporting staff to help you by telling them what you want to see.
Helps you hire people who are a better fit. If you are up-front about your brand definition with people you may hire, then they will be in a better position to decide if they can support you in creating that. You can also use your brand definition to create interview questions and initial-conversation talking points that can help you see who can help you reach your goals.
For Your Customers:
Helps your customers understand you. When you clearly tell your customers who you are, what you do, and what makes you different, you’re giving them the tools to understand what you’re really all about. This instills goodwill and builds trust.
Assures them that you’re “for them”. When you create a brand definition, you will define your best customers. When you write and design your marketing pieces, you can create them to speak directly to those customers, in their language. This can be very comforting for your best clients.
Disqualifies clients who are a poor fit. For a small business, a bad client can be worse than no client at all. If a potential client who is not in your best client group runs across you, your brand story can help dissuade them from choosing you, and making your job more difficult. As a benefit to them, they can then move on to finding a provider who will be able to be of service to them.
Makes it easier to justify purchasing from you. Customers want to know that they are making the right choice and to be reassured that they’re spending their money with the right provider. By explaining your business thoroughly, you can remove some of their doubts about making a purchase, and you can also show them that they can really benefit from doing business with you.
If you take the time to create a brand definition, then you can develop a compelling brand story that can help all of the people involved with your business to drive it towards its goals.
Erin Ferree, founder of elf design, helps small businesses stand out from their competition so that they can connect with their best customers. She does this by working with business owners to define their brands, and then using that definition to create logos, marketing materials and websites that show how they shine. She also believes that all of a business’s brand materials should be not just pretty, but also designed effectively and strategically. This produces a winning combination of materials that communicate visually, look stunning and are designed effectively, which help her clients reach their target audiences.