Updated: May 10
Does your brand help or hinder your business growth? If you aren’t sure, you may not be realizing its full potential.
Running a business and maintaining a brand image are two very different things, yet they are both important to success. A strong brand drives business performance, company culture, and customer experience while also increasing both top and bottom line growth. According to Chris Kocek, Founder and CEO of Gallant, “a business becomes a brand when it transcends its category of origin. It takes an existing core equity or a particular philosophy and infuses that idea into everything it does..."* Customers need to understand immediately what you stand for and how it will benefit them. Your brand building efforts bring to life an experience, which encourages them to either stay or walk away.
For small businesses especially, brand building can oftentimes be a secondary priority when you are just getting started. However, by not focusing on brand you could be diluting your opportunities to gain and retain customers. Lack of clarity on your audiences’ pain points and how you uniquely solve their problems makes effective communication difficult, which in turn holds your brand back from maximizing its full potential. Aligning your offer with what your audience needs and desires, identifying your true point of difference and leveraging a distinct voice when engaging customers will build a relevant brand while growing the business that you have worked so hard to create.
Know Your Audience
What is it that your target audience is looking for? If they are existing customers, why do they keep coming back to your product or service, or why they might opt for a competitor? Whether you've been in business for a few years or are just starting out, your audience’s priorities, interests, and needs have likely changed in the past year. Go beyond demographic and sales data to understand what new behaviors they've adopted and will continue to follow. Whether they are a customer, consumer, donor or volunteer, knowing your audience on a deeper level makes it easier to predict how they will react to future trends or events, so you can adequately adjust your business.
Point of Difference
What do you think is different about your brand? What can your brand do better than your competitors? Now think, does your audience know that? And if they don’t, is it something that they can easily find on your website, through your social media, or your email newsletter? If you are unsure of any of these questions, it’s time to sit down and evaluate what your brand is truly doing right. We define a brand’s point of difference as “an ownable advantage that meets a relevant need and is difficult to replicate.” Highlight what makes you different from your competitors and be persistent in sharing that throughout your interactions with your audience. Warby Parker is a great example of a startup that defined their point of difference from the start. As Co-Founder & Co-Ceo Neil Blumenthal said, “the point of building a brand is making your company more "defensible."* The founders knew their audience would be key to their success and created a consumer-centric experience that set them apart from Luxottica and others that followed.
Develop a Brand Voice
Making your brand more personal gives an audience more reason to trust an organization. Don’t overlook this powerful element. Brands which grew their salience and had a strong meaningful difference, experienced a 20% growth in market share, per Kantar’s five year analysis of their BrandZ brand equity data. Creating and infusing your brand’s voice in every touchpoint with your audience enables you to distinctly communicate vs. competitors. It gives your audience insight on not only your brand values but the value of your brand.
When considering what your brand voice is, consider what your brand would look like as a person. How would they speak? How would they make people feel? Personifying your brand and establishing a consistent voice throughout your marketing content will enhance your audience’s confidence in your brand.
Engage with your Audience
Put your brand voice in action! Open your brand’s means of communication for your prospective customers. Having a Contact Us form on your website and email marketing campaign as well as keeping up with your social media presence will help your brand appear more accessible and hands-on to your clients. If your audience feels that they are talking to humans and getting a genuine interaction, they will develop a solid trust in your brand. Now more than ever, people want to feel closer to organizations. Show up for your audience and keep in mind - someone is always listening. Warby Parker also captures this successfully on their website, by displaying biographies of those who wear their glasses.
While having a thought out business plan will help your business stick to standards it sets for itself, having an in-depth brand strategy will show your customers those standards.
The Brand Evaluator is a collective of independent brand builders – Michelle Thompson, BrandSpark Design and Christine Sech, Brave Oak Brand Building. We work with emerging businesses and the investors who support them to clearly and meaningfully convey an organization’s value through brand building strategy, design and content that drives results.