Over 500,000 businesses were launched in 2012 – I’m not kidding, over 500,000. Because there are so many companies operating in today’s market, chances are there are numerous companies offering the same products and services that you’re offering. However, the thing that could differentiate your company from the others is an effective branding strategy. Branding – the way consumers perceive your company – is more important than ever. Young entrepreneurs have to be able to set their company apart from the crowd. They have to be able to not only deliver a quality product, but also deliver a quality, differentiated message to consumers.
In this article, we’re going to discuss three effective branding strategies that any and every startup can utilize. These strategies may seem simple, but in reality, they’re very hard to accomplish. However, they’re not impossible to accomplish; with enough creativity and perseverance, they can be fulfilled.
Strategy 1: Tell a Story / Share your Greater Purpose
Consumers aren’t just eager to know about your company’s products and services, they want to know about you. Therefore, share your story. Every entrepreneur has a story, and consumers want to hear it. Take mines for example. My story is that I’m an ex small business owner. I started a company after college and ran it for two years. Although the company eventually failed, I learned valuable, priceless lessons along the way that I couldn’t learn anywhere else. Due to all the mistakes I made and lessons I learned as a small business owner, I eventually figured out how to successfully start and run a company. So, I decided to start this blog, as a way to help other young entrepreneurs (like myself) who are going through the same thing I went through. That’s a shortened version of my story and why I run this blog. Every business needs a greater purpose, and your story introduces that greater purpose to consumers. My greater purpose is to keep young entrepreneurs from making the same mistakes I made as a small business owner. What’s your businesses greater purpose? Except for generating revenue, why are you starting and running a business? What are your businesses goals outside of making money? How does your business benefit the community or society as a whole? Don’t be shy; share your story. Also, find an effective way to share your story. Take TOMS Shoes for example. By now, I’m sure you’re familiar with their “One for One” business model, in which they (TOMS) provides a pair of shoes to a child in need for every shoe purchased by a consumer. In order to inform consumers of this great, generous deed, they (TOMS) incorporate a pamphlet inside every shoe box that explains the purpose behind TOMS shoes. Further, there is an entire webpage (on their website) devoted to educating consumers on their greater purpose.
Strategy 2: Choose an Identity – Innovation or Low-Cost
Is your company Apple or Walmart? Do you focus on creating innovative, state-of-the-art products or do you focus on keeping prices low for consumers? Do you focus on creating a one-of-a-kind retail experiences or do you focus on offering every kind of product? That’s the difference between innovative companies and low-cost companies, and your company should fall into one of the two categories; companies that fall in-between usually fail in the long-run because they neglect to establish an identity. Consumers either want quality or quantity (innovation or low-cost), and it’s your job as a young entrepreneur to steer your company in the most appropriate direction, based on your company’s core competencies – the things your company does best – and market research.
Strategy 3: Create MULTIPLE Slogans
Creating a slogan takes research, but more importantly, creating a slogan is a trial and error process. If your first slogan isn’t catching on, create another one, and if that slogan isn’t gaining traction…create another one. Try a slogan out for 6 months and evaluate its performance – Did the slogan increase your sales numbers? Did it at least create more awareness for your company? Use social media to distribute a survey to consumers and ask if they remember what the slogan is, and if majority of the consumers don’t, then you need a new slogan. In fact, some companies use a different slogan for each marketing campaign they initiate. For example, the popular slogan “Just Do It” isn’t the only tagline that NIKE utilizes. The company has created and used hundreds of slogans over the years. The key is to find a slogan that people will remember, because if they remember the slogan, they’ll remember your business. Every memorable slogan follows five key criteria – it’s short, it follows a rhythm (or it rhymes), it highlights a benefit of the company’s product or service, it explains why a consumer should choose a company over its competition, and it’s honest (for the most part). Your slogan doesn’t have to incorporate every one of those tips in order to be a winner – however, at least try to incorporate three of them.
Strategy 4: Continue to Develop your Product or Service
Branding is a way to differentiate a company from its competitors. However, offering a better product is the best way for a company to differentiate itself from its competitors. If you have a limited budget, focus on offering a better product. Facebook doesn’t have a branding strategy; it’s just offers a superb, one-of-a-kind service. If you product offering is superior to what the market is offering, your company can survive without a branding strategy.
-Mike, creator of EntrepreLoser
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