The truth is today consumers don’t really see a difference between competing products, which is why successful companies focus on planning and building brands that establish emotional ties with their customers, presenting their product or service (read BRAND) as an experience.

For those of us committed to our businesses there has never been a better time to embrace branding as a key driver for growth and success. The internet has levelled the playing field, especially for those of us who target a smaller niche.

The online revolution now offers savvy companies the tools, reach and inspiration critical to building and realising their brands value.

Unfortunately the reality is, many small or medium sized business are confused when it comes to understanding exactly what “branding” is and how to apply it to their individual businesses.

For organisations to reap the benefits of using branding as a core driver of their success, they need to begin the process by understanding and then managing, in a more holistic way, the elements that contribute to their brand equity.

Branding is a longterm game, so as you get started make sure you don’t make these basic mistakes:

1. Start by focusing on differentiation
No matter what market you play in, for your brand to succeed you must achieve true differentiation. It’s the starting point to every great brand. I’ll say that again.

“Differentiation is the starting point to every great brand”

If you’re not different what are you? You can only be similar or the same and consumers will assess your product or service on price and price alone. You haven’t even opened your front door and your destined to become a commodity.

Lack of perceived value directly relates to lack of differentiation. The most successful products and services are highly differentiated from their competitors.

A superior brand is built with great marketing. Great marketing helps to position your brand as distinct. Great positioning relies on messages that highlight differentiation. When thinking about your differentiation ask yourself:

– Is it distinct?
– Does it clearly set you apart
– Is it memorable?
– Is it necessary?
– Does it change the playing field?

2. Consistent messaging
Once you are clear on your “point of difference” your messaging begins to play an important role. What you say, and how you say it becomes critical as you promote, advertise, and participate in online dialogue. Sending the same clear message consistently helps prospects to create a clear image of you in their head.

3. Don’t underestimate the value of good images
Avoid using clipart. Consumers online expectations are set very high thanks to the likes of the many professional brands selling and promoting online. If you rely on poor stock photography, or worse the clip art that came with Windows 98. think carefully about the message you are ultimately sending your prospects.

First impressions are everything when it comes to online and there is a very high chance that a prospect will first discover you online. The wrong perception will easily taint the “expert” credibility you are trying so hard to build.

4. Relying on your ‘cousin’s best friend’
Marketing today is very complex. Don’t make the fatal mistake of under estimating the range of expertise needed to plan, design, write your marketing material and build your website. Your cousins friend who is “great at building websites” will not have the depth of experience needed to create a well rounded brand experience that finds the crucial balance between selling and building a brand in the new online economy.

5. Don’t underestimate the importance of your business name
There are 5 rules to choosing a brand leading business name. While it may sound obvious here they are:

Rule One: It must be easy to spell.

Rule Two: It should include a strong visual element.

Rule Three: It must have a positive connotation.

Rule Four: It must talk about what you do. A business name that rolls of the tounge, incorporates a strong visual element, has a positive message and talks about what you do is almost mandatory today. Large companies who have already built brand recognition have outlaid big dollars to have their name stamped into our memories, think Apple or Nike. You don’t have that luxury.

Rule Five: It must be short. Every point of communication should be aimed at making your prospects life easy. A short name will make it easier for them remember you and to tell others about you not to mention work well on any promotional material such as business cards and your domaine name.

6. Make sure your staff are part of your vision
You might not have the luxury of a brand strategy however, if you learnt and acted on point one, you will have a point of differentiation. Make sure your staff understand and refer back to in every day. If customer service is you point of difference it effects who you employ, how you employ and every other basic business process. Communicating is the key.

7. Be consistent across channels
A strong brand which is supported by a strong differentiator should communicate simply and consistently across the growing number of touch points that reach your audience. Try to stay with the same designer, or go to the trouble of having a style manual made (even a brief one) so that marketings brochure and a website send the same visual message. By doing this you will not miss out on the big power of association.


Do you need help building your brand story? Book in for your FREE Business Exploration Session with one of our Entrepreneur Development Managers today.