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March 11, 2014

What it Means to Build Your Brand

branding for small businesses

Branding can be worth its weight in gold. Converse. Google. All of these companies have well established images that they portray to their consumers. Converse attracts the hip and young who are unconcerned about the lack of arch support. Google is known as the vanguard of the internet. It protects the integrity of online information and supplies individuals with the best results. Due to these well established brand identities, they receive customers some customers due to brand loyalty.

What is Branding? Branding, according to the American Marketing Association, can be defined as features (the name, term, design, or symbol) that allow a company to form a distinct identity from their competitors. You should be concerned about two different types of branding: Company and employer branding.

  • Company branding is geared towards all potential consumers. Consumers are always forming opinions about your company. Every commercial, every piece of gossip, every product they use, and every costumer review they stumble upon. Branding is a way to lead those opinions the “right” direction. By not proactively establishing a brand, you’re allowing the populous to form an opinion without any input. This can backfire disastrously.
  • Employer branding is geared towards employers and potential employees. The idea is to invest your employees in the worth of the company and attract highly skilled workers. Employer branding is upheld by three main pillars: communicating the brand identity to employees, convincing them of the brands worth, and linking every job to that brand essence that is being created.

Is branding really effective? A recent article in the New Yorker by James Suroweiki claims that branding is no longer an effective marketing technique. Suroweiki rightly points out that “consumers are supremely well informed” and are more likely “to investigate the real value of products.” The logos of branding he says is no longer relied as much to form decisions. He uses the well-respected brand Lululemon Athletica who received backlash from the public when they produced shoddily made yoga pants. This, I believe, is a reflection not of decline of branding, but rather the result of a company failing to uphold their brand image.

Creating and implementing a brand entity is a complicated procedure. There are tactics you can use, but it is important for you to realize that branding is as much an art as a science. The rest of this article should guide you through the process

The first step of your company branding campaign should be to establish your company mission statement. Without a mission statement, your campaign will lack the guidance you need to effectively brand. Establish the values, the goals, and what you see as the worth of your company to consumers.  After that, here are a few tactics you can use.

  • Social media profiles. This serves two purposes. It is a method to directly interact and observe your consumers. *Remember talk to your employers, not at them.
    how to brand for entrepreneurs
  • Company mascot. Mascots expose consumers to your values without expressly stating them. More than that they can be a fun way for your company to interact with your company. They can be fun characters that can be used to create a connection with consumers online via mascot twitter pages or websites.
mascots for small businesses
  • Blogs. Company blogs are a great way to draw in consumers and keep them coming back. They demonstrate that you are willing to serve a broader purpose to the community than selling a product. Don’t stick to traditional articles. Dive into infographics and videos. Both can spread across the internet like wildfire.

After you have begun establishing company branding, you should start working on employee branding. Google is by far the most effective example of employee branding. Their company has such a solid employer reputation that they were featured in the 2013 movie The Internship. Here are a few tips to obtain the same success as Google.

  • Employee Expectations. You need to ensure that employees understand how they should act in order to uphold the company image you are trying to obtain. Ideally this should in some small part provide expectations to keep clean social media profiles.
  • Employee Perks. Expecting employees to act in a certain way after work can seem like a lot, so you should endeavor to provide employee perks. While you may not be able to compete with the perks Google doles out to their employees, you should ensure employees that basic perks (sick days and vacation days in the works).
  • Means of Communication. Provide employees with a way to send you feedback on the work environment.
  • Relaxing work environment. Custom wall murals with the company logo can provide an interesting environment that reinforces your brand identity. Pictures on the wall can engage your workers creativity. A fully furnished break room will give your employees a place to recharge and interact.

A brand can be the difference between a good company and great company. Just remember that branding will not be a success if you fail to uphold your end of the bargain. Your company and employees must live the values. That means providing quality service and products. Now get out there and start building up your brand.

Chris Garrett spent his youth helping his grandfather at his restaurant. He makes killer omelets.

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