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Coach Darin: Key elements in a strong brand for your business

Darin Myers is the local facilitator of the The Alternative Board (TAB), a peer-to-peer advisory board designed to help company leaders maximize their opportunities and work through challenges. Darin recently retired after a 30-year career in the nuclear industry as the leader of Plant Vogtle I and II. He has proven success regarding strategic planning and alignment, employee development, organizational performance improvement, accountability, and coaching. Recently, he has started a family business in Augusta focused on home health care, providing him the knowledge and experience surrounding small- to medium-size business operators.

Branding is the process of defining what your business stands for, crafting the positive impression you want associated with your products or services, then infusing those elements throughout your entire organization and marketing efforts. Branding your business differentiates you from your competition, helps identify you in an often-crowded market and enhances emotional connection and customer loyalty.

If you are a business owner who has yet to consider your brand and branding strategy, now is the time. The following are four key elements to building your small business brand.

Decide what you want to be recognized for

Start by identifying your brand personality, those attributes one would use to describe your brand if it were a person. There are five general types of brand personalities: sincerity, sophistication, competence, excitement and ruggedness. Most all brand personalities fall somewhere within this spectrum.

Take Apple for example. In general terms, Apple’s brand personality relies heavily on sophistication and competence. While, say, Disney would probably be best described as embodying excitement. Again, these are general terms. Dig a little deeper to identify five or more of your own brand personalities.

Then make some branding decisions based on the brand personality you identified and a few key questions. What promises do you want to make your customers? What does your business vow to do better than anyone else? What are those key differentiators? How do elements of your Mission Statement translate into your branding?

Sync Your Brand with Everything You Do.

Many small business owners wrongly assume that designing a company logo and slapping it on their website is where smart branding starts and stops. While a company logo is usually the most recognizable manifestation of a brand, it is only a single element in a business’s branding arsenal.

Your branding should surely be embedded in your marketing, but also expressed throughout your entire business operations. If you are a business whose brand expresses compassion, your office environment and employee work conditions had better reflect it. Organize every facet of your business to be in alignment of your brand ideals. Your brand, after all, is your promise to the world.

Shout Your Brand from the Rooftops.

While you “walk the brand walk” throughout your business, you of course need to “talk the brand talk” in every facet of your communications. This means developing brand alignment in all your marketing materials, collateral, online presence and any advertising you perform. Slogans and taglines. Social media posts. Emails and newsletters. All these pieces need to be reflective of your brand.

By consistently communicating your brand across all platforms and environments, you drastically increase brand recognition and loyalty.

Stay True to Your Brand.

For a crash course on strong branding and consistency, again consider Apple and another recognizable brand, McDonald’s. Think about how their branding is both well-defined and unwavering.

For example, you probably wouldn’t expect an Apple advertisement to be loud or complicated, as that would belie the company’s stylized, sleek branding you are accustomed to. Likewise, if McDonald’s were to add spaghetti to its menu, consumers would likely be confused by the new item’s disconnect to the burger giant’s overall brand.

Identifying how you want your business to be perceived in the marketplace is one thing; committing to it without deviation is quite another. A well-managed brand that remains true to its core characteristics, vision and mission is better positioned to create trust, familiarity and customer loyalty.

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