Brand identity isn’t just for the big guys. Small and medium sized businesses (SMB) also have a vested interest in having a distinct brand identity. In the digital space, articulating your company’s brand is the first step in ‘optimizing’ your digital footprint. In the noisy digital world, a clear consistent brand helps differentiate your company from the competition and generate results.
The quarterly American Express Small Business Monitor found that while many Canadian SMB owners understand the importance of creating a unique brand, they appear reluctant to invest dollars in a third party resource to help. While engaging a consultant can certainly help in identifying new possibilities, there’s really no harm in handling everything internally.
Creating a brand takes some strategizing and viewing the company beyond just ‘bricks and mortar’ and logo. Every newsletter, every photo, article, social media site adds to the company’s professional presence or its persona. In a ‘sound-bite’ your brand is ‘what you stand for’.
But brand identity also includes a customer’s perception, which is critical in the digital sphere where customers have free reign to pretty much say what they think. Consumer generated content including what customers are saying about your company – not just to you but to others, also becomes part of your brand.
So what’s the big deal?
In digital marketing, effectively using your brand helps keep things from going off the rails. But how?
- Having a brand assists in ‘staying’ the course providing guidance for online investments and spends. A strong brand can easily right itself when mistakes occur.
- A brand identity assists in establishing goals and determining the best online tools. The digital space is very complicated and changes – daily. There are thousands of different tools and platforms, each purporting to be the best. And they might very well be, but not necessarily for your business. Sometimes it just isn’t the right fit or can take awhile to get the perfect fit.
- Having a brand means knowing who your customers are and where they hang-out. Investing time in a digital platform hoping for a customer connection isn’t a productive use of already over-taxed SMB resources.
- A brand can help remind a customer why they should do business with your company. It’s information overload for everyone with the continuous offers, reminders, messages, and articles. Everyone has a personal digital sieve to separate what’s important. Having a distinct brand that directly addresses a consumer need will have a greater chance of identifying and reaching the target market.
- Digital marketers use brand identities to create consistent messaging that in the end help control the message. It also comes in handy when engaging online with customers. Establishing a method to track consumer content allows every SMB a chance to respond. And it isn’t always bad. It could be as simple as a thank you, answer a question, address a query, enter a conversation or laugh off a mistake. Two-way engagement s gives your company a voice which is an excellent way to enrich your brand persona.
Business owners usually understand their company brand the best. And it’s easy to forget about polishing the company’s virtual persona and making sure the staff is also following brand practises. Regularly ‘trolling’ of social media feeds, blogs, and websites is a good way to measure your brand against the competitor and possibly pick up a few new ideas.
In the end it’s about saving time, dollars and valuable resources while generating results.
Brands take hard work but successful brands work smarter. What’s your brand?