You created your business from a deep interest in your product or service, a passion for it even. You sacrificed countless hours and dollars while losing sleep, facing rejection after rejection, and drinking more coffee than ever thought possible by science. Even so, it feels like your business is just one of a thousand stacked on a shelf that customers walk by with only so much as a glance. How do you make them stop? Better yet, how do you make them care?
Your solution is branding your business and branding it well. Think of branding like today’s dating scene. Technology makes it easier than ever to scroll through numerous profiles of potential significant others and crossing them off for minute details like the wrong facial hair, the wrong shoes, or the wrong type of car. Your business will fall into the same black hole with the other lonely singles unless you take the time to properly brand it. Knowing where to start can be tricky, but these questions and suggestions should get the wheels turning.
Part One: It takes Two to Tango—and to Finish a Pepperoni Pizza
Imagine that you are speed dating. You only have a short amount of time to sell yourself to the individual across the table from you. This is essentially the same when marketing your brand to your customers. They have short attention spans—maybe they recently went through a rough breakup or maybe they are ready to settle down and won’t commit to anything less than perfect. Either way, your brand not only needs to be exactly what they need, it needs to tell this to your customer in the shortest and simplest way possible. Okay, so how do you do this? First, you create a mission statement. Take Publix’s mission statement for example, “To be the premier quality food retailer in the world…” There isn’t a lot of wiggle room in this sentence. Publix unapologetically states that it won’t accept anything less than #1 in the supermarket business. Who wouldn’t want to shop for their family at the best grocery store in the world? Your brand should do the same. Avoid lengthy and complex wordings that customers will give up reading halfway through; simply communicate that your business is exactly what they want. Convince them that they need to look no further.
Second, create a list of your business’ core values. Think of when you’re skimming through eHarmony profile’s – what are you looking for? Once you read the general facts or mission statement about the person—let’s say “a Harvard grad with a zest for life and a golden retriever”—you might be interested enough to want to read more. Do they share your values, whether that be family, financial responsibility, or being active in the community? Customers are essentially evaluating your business like an online dating profile. Your core values are your chance to convince your customers that you not only can give them exactly what they want, but also in a way that their conscience approves of. Don’t hesitate to appeal to their emotions, to be cheesy, to be REAL. Which of these would you rather date? “Looking for someone to buy me dinner”—OR—“Looking for a healthy, happy, and long-term relationship.” Make sure your customers know that you are in it for the long run – in sickness and health until death do you part.
Once you have your mission statement and core values in check, the third step is to select the perfect profile picture or logo in your business’ case. Put yourself in the shoes of the people looking at your profile picture ‐ do you like what you see? Is your picture memorable, interesting, and emotion‐evoking? Will it be immediately forgotten by the next profile picture of someone skydiving or riding an elephant? Remember, most people prefer to gather information from an image rather than plain old writing—it’s much easier, faster, and a heck of a lot more entertaining. Make your logo stick in your customers’ minds even when they move onto next the billboard, magazine, TV channel, or website—and DON’T let them be the one that got away.