Posted June 16, 2020

Build your Business -- Build your brand

Eleven steps for a successful brand-building process.

by Sonja Gregory

A recognizable and loved brand is one of the most valuable assets a company owns.

Small businesses like rental centers compete against big brands with devoted customers and unlimited marketing budgets. To succeed in that environment, independent business must differentiate and communicate that difference with a solid brand-building process.

What is a brand?
Simply, your brand is defined by a customer’s overall perception of your business. In today’s market, a successful brand has to be consistent in communication and experience across many applications. It must encompass environment, which is your storefront, office, vehicles rental equipment, print collateral, signage, packaging, website and online advertising, content publishing, sales and customer service.

Building a brand is a process. The ongoing effort will result in establishing long-term relationships with customers and can lead to a steady increase in rentals and sales, word-of-mouth referrals and advocacy for your products or services.

What is brand building?

Brand building generates awareness about your business using marketing strategies and campaigns with the goal of creating a unique and lasting image in the marketplace. Here are 11 steps to an effective brand-building process:

1. Discover the purpose behind your brand. Every successful brand has a powerful purpose behind it.

Answer these questions to define your brand purpose: Why do you exist? What differentiates you? What problem do you solve? Why should people care? Studies show that 50 percent of consumers say they buy based on a company’s values and impact. Dig deep and find those nuggets of truth that can distinguish your brand from others.

2. Research competitor brands. Don’t exactly imitate what the big brands are doing but be aware of what they do well or where they fail. Research your main competitors or benchmark brands. Create a brand competitor spreadsheet for comparison. Also:
  • Is the competitor consistent with messaging and visual identity across channels?
  • What is the quality of the competitor’s products or services?
  • Does the competitor have customer reviews or social mentions you can read?
  • How does the competitor market their business online and offline?

Choose up to four competitors to compare. You might also look at other local businesses or even benchmark against name brands.

3. Determine your brand’s target audience. You can’t be everything to everyone. Keep in mind who exactly you are trying to reach, then tailor your mission and message to meet their exact needs. Get specific.

Brand creation relies on truly understanding the buyer persona. Identify these traits or characteristics of your ideal customer: Age, gender, location, income and education level. Then take it to the next level and identify what motivates them, their goals, their pain points, who are their influencers and their brand affinities. Identifying the target audience for your services or products is an exercise that will affect and benefit all areas of your brand building process, particularly marketing efforts.

 4. Establish a brand mission statement. This is a clear expression of what your company is most passionate about. The mission statement defines a purpose for existing. It will guide every other aspect of your brand-building strategies. Your logo, tagline, voice, message and personality should reflect that mission. When people ask you what you do, answer them with your brand mission statement.

When building your brand, start small and remember to focus on your target niche audience first. With time, your brand loyalty may grow enough to expand your reach.

5. Outline the qualities and benefits your brand offers.
Your products, services, and benefits belong solely to you. Focus on the qualities and benefits that make your company unique. Think about how you provide value that improves consumers’ lives -- outcomes or results that are experienced.
6. Form your unique brand voice. Your voice is dependent on your company’s mission, audience, and industry.  It should be professional, friendly, service-oriented, authoritative, technical, promotional, conversational and informative. Ultimately, your brand voice resonates with your target customers. This is particularly important when publishing blog articles or social media posts. Maintaining a consistent voice will help your brand image become recognized on multiple channels in the same way.
7. Let your brand’s personality shine. Customers aren’t looking for another cookie-cutter company that offers the same thing as everyone else. They are looking for an experience tailored to their needs, backed by genuine personal interaction. Be consistent with this brand personality across all points of contact.

8. Build a brand story and message. Your messaging should be associated with your brand and conveyed consistently. A brand story is an opportunity to communicate on a human level, making a direct emotional connection with your consumers. Make it simple and clear. Address not what your product can do, but why it is important to your customer.

9. Create a brand logo and tagline. The most exciting and most important piece of the brand building process is creating a brand logo and tagline for your company. This logo will become your identity, calling card, and the visual recognition of your promise, so be willing to invest the time and money to work with a designer who can help you develop the logo and develop brand guidelines to ensure consistency cross your brand messages.
10. Integrate your brand into every aspect of your business. Your brand should be visible and reflected in everything that your customer can see, read, and hear. When a customer walks into your business, your brand image should be on display in the environment and with personal interactions. Anything tangible–from business cards to advertisements, to packaging and product–needs the stamp of your logo. On any digital platform, ensure that your brand looks the same everywhere. Use your brand style guide to create consistency.

Your website is the most important tool for marketing your brand. Incorporate your voice, message and personality into the content. Profile pages for social media networks should be branded visually and with your chosen voice for engagement. Don’t forget about video! YouTube, Facebook Video and Facebook Live, Snapchat and Instagram Stories are all platforms that need to have content executed with your unique brand voice and personality. Podcast audios should also adhere to a theme that supports your brand message, value, and voice.

11.  Stay true to your brand. Unless you decide to change your brand into something that is more effective based on measured consumer response, consistency is key.

Don’t constantly change your branding. The inconsistency will confuse your customers and make long-term brand building more difficult.

When you build a brand that works, you and your employees are the best advocates to market your brand. When hiring employees, ensure that they are a culture fit–aligning with the mission, vision, and values of your brand.

Sonia Gregory is founder and CEO at FreshSparks, a branding agency specializing in brand strategy and identity, website design, and digital marketing.

This story originally appeared in the July-August 2020 issue of Pro Contractor Rentals magazine. ©2020 Urbain Communications LLC. All rights reserved.