4 Steps To Start-Up Your Brand

Where do you start building up your brand? Steve Strauss author and speaker who specializes in small business and entrepreneurship. answers for USA Today‘s readers:

Step 1: Understand how you are perceived: How do people perceive your business now? Is that how you want to be perceived?

Step 2: Decide upon your Unique Selling Proposition: What makes you or your business unique, different, special? What niche is available that only you can fill?

Step 3: What are customer expectations? What do your clients typically expect of you? What unique attributes do you offer that best fit client expectations?

Step 4: Make it personal, if possible: Who do you trust more, a corporation or a person? Whom would you expect to give you better customer service – a corporation or a person? What about honesty – whom do you think is more honest? The answer to all three, of course, is a person. That is why, if possible, it is often a good idea for a small businessperson to tie his or her own name/personality in with the brand. People like and trust people more than businesses.

The fourth point is probably the strongest and really recommended especially for small businesses cases. Interesting reading here: Time for some brand aid

10 Rules To Turn a Small Business In a Big Brand

Starting from the idea that in the last few years, we have witnessed a growing number of small companies that are starting to realise that branding is not the reward for success but the reason why strong brands become strong brands in the first place, The Business Times of Singapore is publishing an interesting list of 10 fundamental rules of branding, nothing new, but still interesting:

1 Perception is the truth

The battlefield of branding is in the minds of the customers. And as far as customers are concerned, perception is the truth, regardless of the facts.

2 Fortune favours the first

Many experts argue that the first mover advantage is a fallacy as there have been many first movers who failed. Being first only gives you the opportunity to lodge your brand in customers’ minds first. Fail to exploit that advantage and your competitors can, and will, catch up.

3 If you are not first, move the battlefield

If you are not first in the market, then you might need to shift the battlefield by creating a new category in which they can be first.

4 Keep a clear focus

If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing. Focused brands concentrate on owning one thing in the mind instead of creating line extensions indiscriminately.

5 Differentiate or sell cheap

In the absence of any perceived difference between products, customers will focus on the price.

6 Use PR for brand building, advertising for maintenance

Many companies make the mistake of using advertising to launch their brands. As advertising is a self-declaration, it has near-zero credibility in the eyes of consumers. Public relations, however, involves what others say about you, and hence carries with it the weight of third party endorsement.

7 Find a great name

In the long term, the name of your products is what separates you from your competitors as your unique ideas and concepts can be copied. To ensure greater brand recall, a short, unique and memorable name should be adopted.

8 Be absolutely consistent

Successful branding requires unwavering consistency

9 Find an enemy

To have credibility, you need to have an enemy. What would Superman be without Lex Luthor? Competition between brands creates excitement in the media and with the customer base, thus helping the category grow.

10 You may need a second brand

Your brand cannot stand for everything, thus necessitating the launch of a second brand in order to enter a new category. It is advisable, however, to launch a new brand only when your existing one is a dominant player in its category. If you struggle to increase sales in a category you know well, what are the chances of you doing well in a category you know nothing about?

Read full article here.