StartupNation Growth Hacks #4: Put the Power of Your Brand to Work

The fourth in a series.
With more than 24 years of experience covering startups and small businesses, we’ve built up a knowledge base of what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur and we’re eager to share what we’ve learned. We’ve identified easy-to-implement, game-changing tactics to advance your business objectives.

Why is brand marketing crucial?

We all know the power of a good brand, but branding and brand-driven marketing matter more than ever. In fact, according to the 2022 X Index Report, a study from Havas CX, the Havas Group’s customer experience network, brand image and trust are the single most decisive factor in customer experience globally. And given that 56% of U.S. consumers are now rating brands by emotional reaction, it’s not only important, it’s critical that you focus on optimizing your brand’s image.

Most think of a brand as just the name of a company: It’s the name you registered with the state in which you’re doing business and/or it’s associated with your company’s domain name. However, a brand is so much more. Unfortunately, most small business owners do not focus enough on ensuring brand clarity and on conveying their brand’s value to the public.

Customers are distrustful by nature. They seek authenticity, especially from small businesses. They also seek brands they can relate to, so be sure your brand values are clear to you and then make sure those values are clear to your current and prospective customers. To achieve this, we recommend you put today’s growth hack to work.

Let’s get to work!

Here’s how to put this week’s growth hack into action now.

To optimize your brand, follow these steps:

1. Why did you pick the brand you are using for your company? Did you select your brand name because it holds special meaning for you or was it selected simply out of convenience? Perhaps you named the company after yourself (known as an “eponymous” brand). It’s important you first determine the “why” associated with your company’s brand. Whatever your company brand is, the most important thing you can do is define what your brand stands for and how you want the public to react to it.

2. What are the key attributes associated with your brand from your own personal perspective? What does your brand mean to you? What qualities does your brand stand for? Create a list of descriptive words that you believe best describe what your brand means to you. This added step of first defining brand attributes in the context of what your brand name means to you is highly important given the intensely personal nature of small business. Large corporations would obviously skip this step as their focus would be strictly to establish a brand and associated brand attributes based only on what they believe will resonate best with their target customers. But for a small business, authenticity matters most, and so everything associated with branding starts with you because of how closely tied you are to your business brand.

Put the power of branding to work for your small business by making your brand attributes known and by ensuring that the entire customer journey matches the expectations you’ve outlined.

3. Next, select which brand attributes are most critical to express to your customers and prospective customers. How do you want your customers to feel about your company? What image do you want to portray? What are the key differentiators that you want customers to understand that make you a better choice versus your competition? Remember to make sure there is alignment between how you feel about your brand and the brand attributes you want your customers to know. Without alignment, there cannot be authenticity. For example, if you want your brand to be known as “friendly, approachable, and caring,” then make sure you conduct every aspect of the customer journey — from consideration to purchase to delivery to customer service after the sale — with those attributes front and center.

4. Lastly, define how each brand attribute will be expressed across all of your branding initiatives, whether that be messaging on your website in the “About Us” section, for example, or in your brand logo, colors and/or tagline. Make sure all of your content — social media posts, blog content and/or podcast content — adheres to and expresses your brand attributes. Do not use overt “in-your-face” promotion of your brand’s attributes. The attributes should be presented subtly by artfully weaving those attributes into your content. You run the risk of coming across as disingenuous if you promote what your brand stands too vigorously.

Put the power of branding to work for your small business by making your brand attributes known and by ensuring that the entire customer journey matches the expectations you’ve outlined. Knowing what your brand stands for and the way you want it to be perceived are crucial to presenting your brand in a way that attracts, engages and retains customers who find your brand relatable, authentic and consistent.

Put this hack to work for you now!

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready: A free resource for learning basic business skills, the latest digital technology and more.

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