The most critical part of any business is also the most neglected.
A company brand.
Branding is your business. There isn’t a question as to whether or not you will have a brand. That is a given. The question is whether or not you will build your brand or have one built for you.
Your “brand” is your reputation. It is how you are perceived in the eyes of the public.
When many start their businesses; they do all the necessary legal stuff like getting their licenses in place, opening up a bank account, etc. Once they can say they exist, then what? Most leap immediately into advertising. This is a mistake.
The best place to start is with your website and a branding strategy. We believe those two can be done at the same time and in tandem with one another. In this post, we will show you how, but first, we need to clarify a few things.
What is the difference between branding and marketing?
Marketing is branding. Let’s put it this way; if marketing were driving a car, then a brand would be the car. Marketing teams like us help you build that brand; then we give it a face and promote it (or drive it).
That is marketing. Establishing a brand and perpetuating it out to your target audience.
You might be thinking, “Okay, but I still don’t see the need for a brand. I mean why can’t I just be who I am, work hard, maybe hire a salesperson and just let the chips fall where they may.”
One of the reasons you need to be proactive in marketing and branding is because business today is extremely challenging and competitive. To be successful in almost any industry requires you to think proactively and strategically about your place in the market. Branding yourself is step one.
Another is because the whole concept of “selling” is slowly dying. Products and services are bought, not sold in today’s economy. People buy brands that are already “pre-sold” by the companies marketing efforts.
It is the reason we pay a lot for a cup of coffee from Starbucks when we could get a much cheaper one at a donut shop or a gas station.
It is the reason we pay $1000 for a smartphone from Apple or $500 for a shirt from Gucci. It is why we buy Heinz ketchup or Energizer batteries almost without even thinking about it.
We are buying a brand.
How to create an effective brand
Branding is about perception and perception is what sells. Branding is a more effective way to sell. Marketing is the process of communicating that perception repeatedly until it sticks and stays stuck in the public’s mind.
(1) Narrow your target audience and service to them.
In other words, don’t try and do too much for too many or try and please everyone: the narrower your focus, the more potent your brand.
(2) Don’t be afraid to be different.
Different is good. Our natural instinct tells us to fit in and be like everyone else. We want our colleagues to see we are adhering to the industry standards. To some degree this is okay, but fitting in also means not standing out, and that ultimately means you become the proverbial “needle in a haystack”. Really you become a “piece of hay in a haystack”. Why follow when you can lead?
(3) Being first is better than being better.
People don’t care about better. They want what is new and fresh. If you ask many business owners what stands out about them, they will begin to tell you how much more skilled, safer, or more trustworthy they are than their competition. The only problem is, their competition is saying that too. Instead of getting into that unending war with them, find some way to be innovative and different. Find a way you can own a word in the public’s mind in a way no one else can. As your marketing team, we can help you establish that unique standing in your industry.
What about advertising?
Once you have established a brand and are effectively communicating it, advertising keeps it healthy. Advertising keeps your competition from moving in on you. But it should typically come after you have established a brand.
New businesses are prone to set up shop and then start pouring countless dollars into things like Google Ads. The problem with that is once you stop paying for those ads, everything stops and nothing remains. You are once again, out of sight/out of mind in the world of your customers.
But if you have sufficiently branded yourself and steadily marketed that brand, then advertising will help maintain it. Today’s most powerful brands are built up with publicity and then kept there by advertising.
How does a website fit into all this?
Your website is the face of your brand. It can also be where it begins and where the promotion of it takes place. For your business to soar, you need to have a website that helps establish and skyrocket your brand in your desired location(s).
Your website is often the first encounter with your customers and therefore, their first impression with you. What they think of you or about you will begin online and on your site.
How can a website help your brand? A new website is a great way to begin asking some fundamental questions about your brand and then watch those answers come to life.
(1) Why are you in business?
It seems obvious – to make money. Or maybe, you got a great product or service no one else has. But for many, it runs deeper than that.
Read the Starbucks mission statement for example,
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
Starbucks isn’t selling coffee; they are selling a feeling—they are selling a brand.
Chances are you didn’t just get into your line of work just to make money. Think about what inspires you and communicate that to your visitors. That can be the headline on your About page. It can be your mission statement that speaks to the heart of your customers.
(2) Who are you in business for?
Who will comprise the traffic to your website?. Who do you want there? When you have a website made, your marketing team should assist you in brainstorming who that is and what they want.
Everything should be done with them in mind, including style, font, color, images, etc.
What will the copy sound like? It will sound like them. Are they professionals? Are they laid-back country folk? Your website can help establish your voice in a way that resonates with them.
(3) What is your main offer?
The headline on the Home Page should tell them what your primary proposal is for them. Make it irresistible. The rest of the home page fleshes that offer out. All your benefits that you mention on the site enhance that offer. The content of the entire website should stay lasered in on that offer and the Call To Action (CTA) will help them know how they can get access to it.
(4) How will you promote your brand?
Websites are the hub of all your digital marketing efforts. Everything you do on social media or via email will either come from your website or lead to it.
One of the best ways to promote a brand is through blogging. Consistent content that comes from your site that engages your readers and provides useful and practical information that will only enhance your reputation. It gives your “should be” customers the chance to get to know you and be helped by you, even before they have chosen to work with you.
A great website doesn’t only look good and function well, but also effectively helps you begin and continue to do the most important thing you can do – be a fantastic brand! The Copy Rocker can help you do just that.