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Be Obsessive: How to Build and Maintain a Successful Brand

Many small businesses don’t think that investing in their brand is important for their company or industry. Providing a high-quality product or service should be all the matters. However, customers make purchasing decisions not only on value but also on Values – so it is important to align your company with the Values that are important to you and your target customer and communicate them through branding.

Define your brand. Don’t just think about what your company does, but the distinct identity that makes your company unique. What is your value proposition? Start with your target customer and make sure they can relate to your brand’s identity. Is your brand hip and casual? Traditional and trustworthy? Your brand is going to affect every element of your marketing strategy from your logo to your digital presence to your office space. Make it count by thoroughly thinking through how you want to position your company in the marketplace. And most importantly, test your brand with a group of your target audience and listen to the results. Engagement in your brand is how you will build customer loyalty, create brand evangelists, and grow your business. You cannot be all things to all people, so pick your niche and position yourself accordingly.

Compact your brand into a phrase. The shorter the better. This is not just your tagline – the purpose of this phrase is to convey the meaning and purpose behind your company. Often, business owners just focus on showcasing the features of their product or service. Impactful brands are not built on having the best features, but built on a greater purpose to better their world. Your audience will tell you that they are looking for features X, Y, and Z, but if you look at their buying habits they are really aligning themselves with a set of values. DeBeers “A Diamond is Forever” campaign captured the commitment of marriage in just four words to sell their gem stones.

Integrate your brand into everything. Absolutely everything in your company should align with your brand. From the design of your office furniture to your email signatures, your whole company should reflect the brand’s identity. Many small businesses only set branding guidelines for parts of the business that face the customer. However you will have a more impactful brand if your company reflects your brand even behind closed doors. Also take a look at the companies that you partner with – if they don’t align with your values than those partnerships can hurt your brand.

Distinguish your own personal brand – separate from that of your company’s brand. A lot of entrepreneurs are so wrapped up in their business that they confuse their own personal brand with their company’s brand. The two brands should be distinguishable but related. Having your own distinct personal brand is important for your company because it helps to humanize your image – think Steve Jobs at Apple. Apple’s brand is clean, simple, and innovative; Steve Jobs was known for being much more complex, but still brilliant. Putting a flawed, human face onto the technology company made it much more relatable for consumers and ultimately, much more successful as a brand.

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About Michelle Stansbury

Michelle Stansbury is the founder and CEO of Little Penguin PR, a boutique Public Relations Company in San Diego, California. Her background is in public relations and business development. After graduating from Duke University, she gained branding and marketing experience starting up a new division of Abercrombie & Fitch (“Gilly Hicks”) at their corporate headquarters.…