Developing a Brand for Your Small Business
Developing a brand for your business is important to your success. Your brand is much more than simply your logo on your business card. It’s the perception or feeling your customers have when they interact with your business or as they use your service or product. It’s also the reputation your business develops based on the cumulative experiences customers have with it over time.
When you develop an effective brand, you establish a positive emotional connection between your business and your customers. And when your customers feel connected to your business, they show loyalty and support. They purchase your service or product not simply because you are filling a need, but because they value what your brand offers.
Creating a strong brand for your business can produce many long-term benefits. Your brand should be intentionally designed to differentiate your business. It should be memorable and emphasize your business’s strengths and competitive advantages. Your brand should serve as a reminder of what your business values most.
Everything your business does should contribute to your brand. This includes the people you choose to hire, the customer service you provide, the way in which you resolve customer concerns, and the overall experience your customers have with your business.
Developing a brand for your business is an ongoing campaign that requires consistency and persistence. To begin developing your brand, you can think about the following questions:
- Purpose: Why does my business exist? What mission is my business attempting to accomplish?
- Approach: How is my business different? What makes my service or product better or unique?
- Customer: Who is my customer? What type of lifestyle does my business encourage and promote?
- Values: What words or phrases best describe my business and its culture?
Your answers to these questions will help you create an essence or “personality” for your business. The next step is to communicate this “personality” with your customers. An important part of this is creating a set of concise visual elements, including:
- A logo.
- A color palette.
- A tagline or slogan.
- A font.
- Compelling images.
After thinking and talking about these elements, many business owners hire a graphic designer or other professional to produce them.
Some business owners also establish a “voice” for their business, with a consistent tone that resonates with their target customers.
Your brand is like a promise that you make to your customers. It’s essential that you deliver on your promise by maintaining the integrity of your brand. This means being consistent in customer interactions, the customer experience, and the visual aspects of your brand. When your business is reliable and stands by its values, your customers will develop greater trust and support. While establishing an effective brand can produce additional benefits, such as being able to charge a premium price for your service or product, the main value of a brand comes in creating long-term relationships and trust with your customers.
What can you do to develop your business’s brand today?
- Talk with actual or potential customers about what they think makes your business unique.
- Write down the reasons you created your business, focusing on the customer need you wanted to fulfill.
- Write down the competitive advantages that you’d like customers to know about your business.
- Write down words or phrases that should be used to define your business.
- Describe in detail the lifestyle of your target customer.
- Consider the “voice” (including tone and attitude) that you’d want your business to communicate.
- Think about the colors or images that might best represent your business.
Once you have developed your brand, be consistent in maintaining it.
Tips for Creating a Website for Your Small Business
A well-designed, easy-to-find website can be a valuable tool for starting and growing a successful business. Before you create a website, you should think about how you will use it to communicate with your customers. This decision will affect the kind of website you create. After making this decision, you will need to register a domain name, choose a web hosting service, and build the website. Once your website is complete, you will want to make it easy for potential customers to find. The following tips will guide you through the process of creating a website.
1. Define the Purpose of Your Website
Think carefully about the purpose of your website and write down the specific objectives that you want it to achieve. For example, would you like potential customers to buy something on your website? Email you? Call you? Do you want them to learn more about your service or product? These objectives should influence the design and messaging of your website. Some businesses have websites that feature specific services or products. Other businesses have websites that focus on e-commerce. Your website should be professional, interactive, and easy to navigate. It should clearly reflect and communicate the brand message of your business.
2. Register a Domain Name for Your Website
Your domain name is the address that potential customers will use to find your business website. You can begin by going to a domain registration website (many companies offer this service online) and registering for a domain name. It’s best if you choose a domain name that is short, memorable, and easy to spell. To make it easier for potential customers to find your website, you may want to choose a domain name that matches the name of your business or your main product.
If you have a desired domain name in mind, you will need to check that someone else hasn’t already purchased it. Your domain name will require an extension such as .com (recommended), .net, or one that is commonly used by businesses in your country.
3. Choose a Web Hosting Service
After you have registered your domain name, you will need to select a web hosting service. A web hosting service leases space on a server and connects your website to the internet. Pricing for a hosting service varies based on your storage need, bandwidth need, and other factors. A good hosting service will allow you to easily install your website software. It will also scale with your business growth and offer professional technical support.
4. Build Your Website
After you have selected a web hosting service, you will need to decide what software platform to use. A software platform gives you the ability to build web pages for your website. You can also have a web developer build the pages. If you plan to use your website mainly to communicate with customers, you would likely select a software platform for content management. If you plan to use your website mainly as an online store, you would likely select a software platform for e-commerce that accepts online payments and includes a shopping cart.
Many software platforms offer features that will allow your website to have podcasts, videos, maps, blogs, newsletters, and social media. There are both free and paid software platform options, depending on your needs.
After you have selected a software platform, you will need to decide if you will build the website yourself or if you will hire a web developer. This decision depends on your vision, skill set, budget, time, and needs. Many business owners have built their own websites with little difficulty. There are many online tutorials to assist you.
Some companies provide an “all-in-one” service for you to register your domain name, sign up for a hosting account, and build your website. If you decide to use different service providers for each of these steps, you will need to point your domain name to your hosting account. You will then need to install your software platform within the hosting control panel that is part of your web hosting service. Many companies attempt to make these steps intuitive and straightforward so that you can do them yourself. Online tutorials can help you complete them.
5. Make Your Website Easy to Find
Just because you’ve created a website doesn’t mean that it will automatically attract a large number of potential customers. You need to make your website easy to find. One way to do this is by successfully using search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. You can learn about SEO strategies through online articles and tutorials and then use appropriate techniques to make your website easier to find.
Another way to make your website easy to find is by linking it to social media accounts. When you link your website to social media, you make your business message more visible and increase your number of potential customers.
6. Improve Your Website through Web Analytics
You can use web analytics to understand how people are using your website. You will first have to decide what analytics software will be best for monitoring your website. Once you have your analytics software, you can learn things such as how many people visit your website, how they come to it, what pages are most popular, and how long they stay on each page. These and other metrics will give you information that will help you gradually improve your website.