In this post, Why Bother Branding Your Small Business?, Malla Haridat shares the revelation that she, “…never realized how important branding was to small businesses. Especially those struggling with a clear and powerful answer to “why should I buy from you?” This is part of our guest blogger series. Malla is an entrepreneur, strategist and Brand School graduate. Read more about Malla at the end of the post. If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.
I learned that branding is so much more than creating a tag line or choosing your color scheme. It is an opportunity to craft a clear identity for your company that allows you to focus on what you deliver. And once you tackle this challenge, it’s much easier to communicate to prospective clients, the media and even your friends and family about what you deliver and why your company is better than others.
I also learned how to design a clear framework around my services – what I would focus on and what I would leave off the table. For a solo entrepreneur who is often enticed to take on all types of work that sounds interesting – it’s critical to have this boundary so that I don’t lose focus from my company’s core strength.
So here are the top branding lessons I learned:
1. Creating a brand proposition is critical for a small business. Yes, it’s hard work. And yes, you’ll have to spend valuable time creating and testing your brand while you’d rather be finding new customers. But the payoff is INCREDIBLE. The clear verbal message I have about my business is making it much easier for prospects to “get” me. And it really paid off recently as I was awarded a finalist spot in a business pitch competition! I never would have been able to hone my message into a 2 minute pitch that was clear, compelling – and won me a coveted spot.
2. Incorporating the values of brands you love into your business can be a fun and enlightening way to engage new prospects. I examined two brands that I love – Embassy Suites and Trader Joe’s – and found themes that both companies use that have helped me to clarify my own brand. What’s so cool about that activity is that you examine companies that are not in your industry to better strengthen your own company. I found that their focus on over-delivering on value yet charging competitively was an idea that I could incorporate in my own brand.
3. Get clear on who you serve. It’s amazing how many times I have heard other entrepreneurs share that “I serve everyone” in my business plan camps. It’s impossible for even large multi-national brands with huge advertising budgets to reach everyone in the market. And yet, when I first started looking at my target customer, I almost started to do the same thing. Yes, I knew that women entrepreneurs were a target but I hadn’t spent time in their “shoes” and really living and understanding their concerns, needs and values to better position my product. It’s about getting to the core of what keeps them up at night and the language they use to describe their problems. And while I am clear that understanding my target customer will be ongoing in my business, I am happy to say I’ll spend less money on marketing because I have a deeper understanding of the copy and language I can use to attract her and the groups that I can start targeting.
Branding isn’t just for the big guys. In fact, I think its even more important for small businesses because we have to stand out, and make sure that every single dollar spent on marketing and client acquisition pays off. A strong brand with a clear message can help a small business achieve big things.
Malla Haridat is an entrepreneurship strategist and founder of Mom and Daughters Inc. As the founder and CEO of New Designs for Life, Malla is a nationally recognized expert in the specialized field of entrepreneurship education and has trained over 1,000 students. Her company was awarded the 2005 New York City Small Business Award of the Year by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and has been featured in publications like The New York Times and on Martha Stewart Radio.