So, what is a brand?
Your brand is what people think about whenever they interact with your business.
The things that they think about include some things that you can control and others that you cannot control.
Your objective should be to carefully define your brand yourself and not let the market or your competitors or unsatisfied customers define it for you.
A simple way to understand this is to think about your friends and ask yourself what differences there are in the brand for each of them as individuals.
One may be intellectual and funny. Another one may be intellectual and serious. Another one may be funny and reliable. Another one may be funny and unreliable.
When they walk into a room and start interacting with you the energy and the mood of the room change.
You have the same impact on your friends and the brand of your business has the same impact on your customers.
When people think about your brand, do you want them to feel sophisticated, reliable, cost-effective, efficient, accurate, strong, warm, and fuzzy?
You can only make this decision by understanding your customer and that requires customer research
Keep in mind that branding only works when it’s consistent.
And if it’s going to be consistent then you need to think through this very carefully at the beginning because changing your brand down the road can be very difficult.
Where does your brand fit in the market?
You might have heard of the term “market positioning”.
The word positioning is relative.
How do you plan to position your brand within the existing marketplace?
Is it more reliable than the competitors? Does it look better? Is it more sophisticated?
Answering these questions requires an understanding of your competitors.
Research your competitors
by reviewing their websites and social presence. Think about you want to ‘position’ your product or service relative to them.
You should also look at what people are saying about all of your competitors.
Check out the major social media platforms they use.
Don’t be afraid to sign up to forums and social groups anonymously and ask questions and share your opinions to see how people react.
If you can afford it, go ahead and buy your competitor’s services and take note of everything in every step of the process.
Take note of what they did well and what can be improved. Imagine how the process can be improved for your customers.
If you’re not in a position to buy your competitors’ products, do as much as you can – use a free trial, sign up for their newsletters, and join their social media groups.
As you do all of this research, pretend to be a customer and think about how each of your competitors makes you feel about buying their product or service.
Rank them in order of best to worst and do your best to identify the reasons. Then consider how you compare to your competitors.