Businesses are vying for attention and the marketing space only gets more saturated each year. So how do you stand out? The answer is to have a powerful brand. Your local business brand is what your community knows about you, and ultimately why they choose to do business with you.
Building your brand, especially within a specific location is the most powerful marketing tool. Consumers are jaded and find comfort in working with brands they trust. Earning their trust leads to word of mouth referrals and further growth of the brand. In short, building your brand will lead to a positive upward spiral.
Here are 5 tips to dramatically improve your local business branding.
Be Clear and Be Yourself
In order to give your business an identity that is unique, create an extremely clear message and adopt just as clear of an identity. Make it as simple as possible. Anyone who comes in contact with your business should immediately know what you offer without any confusion. Take tariolaw, a local law firm. By visiting their website, you instantly know what they are offering, where they are located and how to contact them without even scrolling.
In all aspects of your business, be clear on what the core of your business’ brand is. Whether it’s through a landing page, an event, your logo, or your storefront, any person coming in contact with your business should have a good idea about what your business has to offer. A good place to start is with answering the question: What does your business do? Does your business deal with food? Health? Education? Marketing? Retail? People in your local area should be able to immediately narrow their focus of what your business does.
Find Inspiration in Less-Expected Places
Don’t be afraid to look beyond the usual sources of inspiration for your field in order to find the solutions to your branding questions. In our increasingly connected world, you would be hard pressed to find an industry that does not have lessons or ideas that do not carry over.For example:
- An upbeat lifestyle business could find the perfect symbol for its essence in urban art.
- A holistic treatment center could find inspiration in a certain genre of music.
The list is endless, and totally depends on you and what your business uniquely offers. So walk off the beaten path if you have to. And do not shy away from the thought of having to look beyond the business world to come up with the tweaks your branding needs to finally make that emotional connection with the public you serve. Many of the greatest businesses were built by combining two ideas that no one had thought to combine before. Be creative.
Try to Stand Out, But Also Learn from Those Who Have Gone Before You
You are most likely not the only one who does what you do in your local area, so, as much as possible, you want to stand out from the competition. Do not join the rank and file and be just another so and so who does such and such. Ambiguity, anonymity, and white noise will kill your business over the long run.
At the same time, you don’t want to try and reinvent the wheel by being the first in an industry — learn from those who have succeeded. For example, Myspace & Orkut were two of the first popular social media sites. But today they are dead. Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and others took what the first people did, and instead of reinventing the wheel, they just did it better and uniquely.
There are many ways in you can dare to be different in order to set your business apart:
- You can leverage the power of social media to keep your local community engaged. Start up a conversations on social media with the people that matter most to your business and let the personality of your business shine during the exchange.
- Organize events or, if you can’t, participate in events organized by others. Events are a powerful way to connect with your community in real life. For example, try sponsoring a local concert or festival, where your business and its brand are placed on a pedestal for all to see. And participating in another’s event is a great way to showcase thought leadership and expertise, all of which add to your business’ brand. Nowadays you could even host your own events by streaming on social media…but nothing beats the real thing where you actually get to meet the people.
- Publishing your own book on a subject around your industry will set you up as an authority. As an entrepreneur you quickly realize that your personal brand is intricately tied to your business brand and that can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you carry yourself. Think about it: a customer can either do business with Business X or with Business Y; both are the same, but the owner of Business X wrote a book. The business owner with the book will almost always be picked because they appear smarter, more knowledgeable, more credible, more prestigious, and more relevant. Writing your own book can work wonders for your personal and business brand.
- Harness the power of video to get close to your audience in truly meaningful ways. Whether it’s through social media or local TV, making thoughtful, engaging videos could set you apart and propel your business to the forefront of the consciousness of your community. By leveraging the power of video, you could stand out as an expert, add to your credibility, and amplify your business brand before the very same people you hope to serve.
Brands change as businesses change. This change is inevitable given that the needs of customers change with time. As an entrepreneur, you want to stay on top of change to leverage it, rather than fear it. So what new trends or shifts in behavior have you noticed among your core following? Can your business brand leverage that trend to come up with something which appeals to the emotions of your customers? Great, do that. Adapting in this manner keeps your brand fresh, trendy, relevant, and present to the customers you serve. Do otherwise, and you risk alienating your customers with a brand that comes across as stale or dated. Regardless of the direction you pivot your brand, make sure that there are clear principles you stay true to. Everything else can change in brand – but your guiding principles are what defines you.
Measure the Impact of Your Branding Efforts
You cannot make progress in any field unless you know how to measure progress. Determine a set of metrics to measure the impact of your brand strategy, whether it’s through customer awareness, engagement, social-media mentions, and so on. Sure, the strength of a brand can be a difficult thing to quantify, but the importance of doing so cannot be overstated. You need to be able to look at your strategy and identify what’s working, what is not, and why. Otherwise you could potentially be wasting money on failing strategies. And learn from the failures. Learn why some campaigns resonates with your audience and why others flop.