Those who long to succeed in the world of business are routinely asking the same kind of questions. The main one is something along the lines of: ‘How do I ensure my business is a success?’. Anyone who has experienced any degree of real success will tell you that it is actually quite simple. Of course, they say that with the benefit of hindsight. When you are starting out, it is quite a different matter. Being at the bottom of the ladder and hoping for the top can be a difficult position for anyone to be in. But the fact is, it is where everyone starts – or most of us, at least. Success can be earned. What’s more, those people are right – it is simple. Simple in the sense that it can be broken down into a couple of easy-sounding steps. Those steps are, namely, to build a brand, and then to saturate the market with that brand.
Put that way, constructing an enterprise that stands the test of time looks like a walk in the park. But the truth is, each of those steps themselves consist of multiple steps. Brand-building, as the first vital part in the rise of any venture, is in itself a complex issue. As such, it deserves a header on its own, and a discussion dedicated solely to it. Building a brand can be the work of many years. It can sometimes take an awfully long time for the people to accept a brand as legitimate. If you think about it, that should be no surprise. Brand building is no less than turning a humble idea into a powerful, real-world force that changes lives. So how does one achieve such a magical-sounding aim? The good news is: the whole process can be dissected. We can look at each step in turn and analyse it to our advantage. Let’s do this now.
[ad name=”MiddleAdvert”]Let’s start with the basics. Any brand, before it can be built, needs to be defined. But this might not be as simple as it at first sounds. Defining a brand is much more than writing a one or two-word summary and leaving it at that. To define your brand, you need first to figure out everything else about your company. What is your business’ primary objective? You should be able to summarise that in one succinct sentence. If you can’t, it is too broad and it probably needs rethinking. What is your business model? Are you borrowing from other brands? This is something which many companies do, and there is much ongoing debate as to whether it is a good idea, or even a viable competitive tactic. But if you are: know who and why before you start. Who is your target market, and do you know everything about them that you can reasonably hope to know? You don’t want to go snooping on anyone – but you do want to have a fair catalogue of your target demographic. Their interests, their habits, their lifestyle. All of this is necessary information before you can start thinking about defining your brand.
When it comes to giving your brand a definition, there are some things to bear in mind. It’s a good idea to create a checklist of your business’ core strengths – or what you hope for them to be, if you are just starting out. Your brand definition should be like a list of your business’ values, as well as a summary of its aims. Think outside the box a little – pretend that your brand is a person and you are introducing that person at a party. You really want people to like this person. What qualities of theirs do you emphasise? The same is true of defining your brand. Successful brands – the ones that catch people’s imaginations – follow certain rules or trends. More often than not, they display an interest in benefiting the world in a positive way. If you can include environmental or social and political concerns into your brand definition, you will likely come off well for it. Just be sure that you don’t go overboard – you don’t want to show support for a particular political party, for instance.
Once you have a clear idea of what your brand is and how it is defined, it is time to position it. What this means, in a nutshell, is this: where in the marketplace does your brand belong? The key here is that the brand has to look and feel right wherever you put it. For obvious reasons, the more successful brands seem to fit almost everywhere at once. However, this is nearly impossible to achieve when you are starting out in business. That is the sort of expertise which comes with years of practice and hard work. For now, you should focus on getting your brand positioned neatly in a certain corner of the market. Subtle, but prominent – that’s the key.
Central to the act of positioning your brand is differentiating it from other brands. This is a basic tenet of competition in business. You want your brand to stand out from the crowd in a variety of bold and unique ways. So get it clear straight away how it is that your brand differs from others which are already out there. Once you know that, it is much easier to know where to position yourself. And that is an essential part of building a brand that lasts.
Now it’s time actually to start the building process. What do we mean by ‘build’, exactly? Really, this is where you do the actual hard work. This is where you start to get your brand recognised as a brand. Think of building as like an actual building. When we defined the brand, we were simply looking at blueprints. Positioning was all about choosing where the skyscraper would go. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and actually get that structure into place.
When it comes to approaching your customers, consistency is the key. Consistency is the tool you use to show that you are serious, that yours is a brand not to mess with. A consistent approach shows that you know what your brand is and what it stands for. The result of this is that people respect the brand almost straight away. Whenever you approach a customer, do so through the veil of the brand. That is what it means to build a brand. The actual building of the brand happens invisibly, in people’s minds. It is an unconscious act, for the most part.
Place your flags in every corner you can find. This is where the real impact is done. Try out all the traditional routes of advertising that you can afford. At the same time, do not underestimate the relevance of web marketing. Really, this deserves an article all on its own. The key ingredients to web marketing are availability, reliability and user-friendliness. So ensure that your website is easy to use and that it won’t crash. Be careful with which web hosting providers you use. For example, take heed of the various complaints on JustHost.com service. Work out what works for your business – it might be that the cheaper option is better for you. But remember the importance of keeping the customer happy. Regarding availability, this is easily achieved by signing up to all the social media sites. These sites are your best friends. They are effective, cost-effective means of marketing your brand. You would be foolish to ignore them altogether. The web is one of the most important tools in the whole brand-building process.
Once you have started building, and it seems to be going well, start thinking about expansion. How quickly you do this is entirely up to you, and it all depends on your business and your long-term goals. But if you are keen to expand, then it’s best to start early. However, it can be possible to start too early. If you start too early, your entire brand could collapse. So how do you know when to expand, and when not to?
As long as your brand is in a position of forward momentum, then you are okay to expand it. Stagnation is never fixed by sudden expansion, so don’t make that all too common mistake. If you are experiencing a steady trickle of business, but it’s not as constant as you’d like, expansion might be the answer. How do you go about expanding a brand?
For the most part, expansion is merely a matter of keeping things moving. It might be helpful to think of expansion not so much as widening your scope, but evolving. Evolution is necessary in a business world which is constantly changing itself. For your brand to survive for any decent length of time, you need always to be on the cusp of the moment. Try your best to notice trends and anticipate the next ones. A successful brand is one which rolls with the punches.