Proper differentiation is one of the most critical challenges facing many businesses today. One of the worst mistakes that businesses can make in marketing themselves is to sell undifferentiated services, though the vast majority of companies do exactly that – continuing to proffer me-too services in a crowded marketplace.
Differentiation is your number one source of competitive advantage, and one of the most powerful ways to differentiate is through branding. Large companies have long understood the power of branding, and now small businesses are also recognizing the impact of a well-honed image. Not only can a brand image differentiate a business from the competition, it also conveys a strong idea or message that clients will come to associate with the company.
While branding can be a costly exercise, it doesn’t have to be. Don’t risk waiting to invest in your brand until you have an excess of funds, because a strong brand ensures better market protection during challenging times.
Here are four innovative ways to build your brand on a budget:
Content. While having a beautiful website for your business is important, it isn’t enough. You need to focus as much on the content as the aesthetics. Use content to craft your company image, and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
What you can do now: Here is a list of 16 tools and apps to improve your process and blog.
Tell a story. People love hearing stories that are engaging and memorable – it’s how we relate to one another. Stories also further personalize your business and help your audience to connect with you. This is an opportunity to communicate something about your brand values, and should be about more than just what you sell.
What you can do now: Use storytelling to create an emotional connection with your audience. Learn more here.
Customer experience. Every interaction between your business and a client gives you the opportunity to reinforce your brand. You can have an awesome message and instantly recognizable logo, but if your customers don’t experience your unique selling point when they transact with you, your brand won’t gain traction.
What you can do now: Change the way you think about your brand experience by applying marketing strategies used by the big brands. Learn more here.
What you can do now: Kabbage, an online provider of small business loans, is a great resource for small business owners. With loans available ranging from $2,000 to $100,000, entrepreneurs can use this working capital to grow their business in many ways, including investing in their branding, marketing, and positioning.
BONUS TOOL: Know your competitors. Analyze what your competition is doing while you build your brand. Online competitive analysis has come so far that the range of available information is huge. What’s important here is knowing which metrics are the most important in winning the war between your brand and the competition.
Branding is a crucial investment in the future of your company. Simply stated, your brand is your promise to your client, letting them know what they can expect from you, and differentiating your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is a reflection of who you are and what you stand for, so be certain it paints your company in the best possible light.