Approximately 50% of startups fail. Many studies list reasons for these failures, but an obvious one is that companies fail to generate adequate revenue to sustain themselves. Achieving that revenue needs to be focused on creating and marketing a brand that spreads to target markets quickly and efficiently.
Small business entrepreneurs know their products and services and have developed at least informal business plans and financial data. Though most have a marketing plan, they are not experts. If they cannot find the expertise or take the time to do thorough research and study on crafting and marketing a brand, they will lose.
While most businesses will never achieve the brand awareness of Kleenex or Red Bull, there are lessons to be learned about how some of the “big boys” fashioned their brands, kept them consistent and promoted them by going beyond just the product or service being sold.
Crafting a Unique Brand
It is unlikely that anyone can imagine an Apple product ever going to market without the famous apple on it. This should be the same goal for all business owners. They should strive for a unique brand that immediately comes to be known as directly connected to their business. It is a combined effect that comes from all the visual parts of a marketing plan. There are four key considerations in creating a unique brand:
- One should be different. Business owners have probably spent a lot of time studying their competitors. The goal should not be to emulate the visuals of their brand. The visuals must stand out, be different and reflect the values of the enterprise. They should also reflect the values and beliefs of the enterprise’s target market.
- The same message should appear on every piece of content a business produces – social media posts, website, blog, etc. It may take the average customer between 6 to 12 experiences with a brand before it “registers”. The focus must always be on the target audience and the value that product or service can bring to that audience.
- The logo and tagline (slogan) should be visible on everything that is produced or sent out. Red Bull’s target audience has no trouble recognising its logo.
- A business logo should be visually pleasing and it should align with both the product/service and the target audience.
A good example is the differences in the audiences of those who would purchase a Rolex and those who would purchase deck stain. These are two totally different sets of core values and belief systems. Rolex would use sophisticated colours (grey, black, silver, gold and variations of these palettes) whereas a paint and stain company would use brighter colours with a more rustic and certainly more casual palette.
Consistency of Brand Promotion/Identity
This is a natural outgrowth of creating a unique brand identity. Consistency means that a brand, a logo, the colours, and all content marketing material support that identity. Consistency is what makes a brand memorable. Business owners should consider their content carefully. There should be a pervasive “theme” to it all so that once it is visible, the brand is immediately recognised.
Consistency means that a brand, a logo, the colours, and all content marketing material support the specific identity. This is a natural outgrowth of creating a unique brand identity.
Consistency is what makes a brand memorable. Business owners need to consider their content carefully. There should be a pervasive “theme” to everything associated with the product/business so that once it is visible, the brand is immediately recognised.
Consider Red Bull as a brand. The brand is synonymous with adventure and energy. All of the content created for its website is related to this theme – extreme sporting events, concerts, and more. All of the content it creates for its social media platforms is the same.
Beyond the Product
There are many ways for brands to become know or promoted without only focusing on a product or service. Perhaps, like CVS pharmacies, an entrepreneur can branch out into other aspects of a sector.
CVS did this by adding to its product line in its stores. It opened up clinics in its facilities, it sponsored health and wellness efforts and events and, most recently, it stopped selling tobacco products. All of this was done to expand the initial brand into more value for its audiences.
Business owners need to think creatively about what they can do to expand their brands beyond what the product or service offers. The operative question should always be: how can they provide greater value to their audience? There are plenty of examples of companies that have expanded their products/services and maintained their brand identity. As the expansion occurs, the other critical consideration must be keeping that brand reputable and consistent.
Like Taco Bell, entrepreneurs need to think “outside of the bun” as they develop their unique brands and put them out there for their audiences. And that brand is not just a logo, a slogan, and a great product or service. It is a reflection of a company’s core values and those of its target market. It requires creativity; it requires a strong effort to be different; and tucked in with all of the colours, the logo, the tagline, and the posts is a statement of the value that the product/service brings to its customers.