How To Build Your Brand In 4 Steps

by Charlie Cook

Do you have favorite brands? I know I do. When I shop for outdoor gear I buy Cloudveil, Marmot and Patagonia. If I need new skis, I start by looking at Head and Salomon. Kayak paddles? Werner. These are brands that I know and trust, and I know the goods I buy from these companies will meet my standards. I start any shopping I do with the brands I know, even if the prices are higher.

Whether it’s Heinz ketchup or Sony flat screen TVs, brands have a powerful pull. They work to generate wealth for their owners for these three simple reasons:

1. You know what the brand stands for.

2. You know and trust the brand, either from personal

experience or because of the brand’s reputation.

3. You have the perception that it’s easier, quicker and safer
to stick with brands you know.

Most Americans know the names and reputations of hundreds of brands including UPS, Dell, Microsoft, Sony, Sam’s Club, Southwest Airlines, QuickBooks, Costco Wholesale, FedEx and Best Buy. These are highly successful and profitable businesses and it’s clear that branding is one of the strategies that made them that way. No wonder small business owners aspire to be successful at branding.

So what happens? Business owners come up with a company name and go to work to “build their brand”. But most of them waste tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars a year doing it the wrong way.

Let me ask you a question. Is it name recognition you’re after, or is it sales and profits? If it’s the latter, then you’ll want to know how to build your brand, so more people seek you out.

What do you associate with the brands I listed above?

I’d be surprised if your associations weren’t the same as mine; UPS, courteous and professional package delivery and brown trucks and uniforms. FedEx; overnight delivery and their white, purple and orange trucks and packaging. Dell – etc.

Just like you I associate these brands with the benefit they provide – and that’s the key – that’s what you want your prospects and clients to do too. Your brand is worth very little until it is associated with the benefit that you provide your clients.

Many small business owners mistakenly think that branding takes a huge investment in advertising dollars. Not true.

Look at Google, for example. It’s now the number one search engine on the web and one of the top Internet brands. My 84-year-old father-in-law is learning how to use a computer; one of the first things he learned is that Google is the place to start an Internet search.

Google achieved this top brand status without spending heavily on advertising. They did it by focusing on one thing and doing it better than their competition. Unlike their competitors who tried to provide multiple services and become shopping and information portals, Google build its following by simply providing the most relevant search results.

Yahoo, one of Google’s competitors provides a search function, but it lost out to Google because it’s focus is too broad.

How To Build Your Brand To Increase Profits According to the
Master of Branding, Al Ries

1. Purpose

Why create a brand? When done correctly your brand can increase sales and enable you to charge more for your products. In every grocery store you’ll find both the name brands and the low-cost store brand.

Now in a recession, you’d think that the low-cost store brands would outsell the national brands. And you’d be right, during tough times more consumers turn to the lower cost store brands, but still 75% of the time they buy the higher priced brands that they associate with quality.

2.  Focus

Make your brand stand for something by communicating the benefits of the products or services you provide. Try to do too many things or serve too many markets, and no one will know what you’re selling. Your brand won’t have value.

Your goal is to be one of the top brands in your market. You can accomplish this by specializing in one area or market niche, being the best at what you do, and if you’re lucky, being the first in your category.

3. Dominate

Think big so your business will grow large. Back in 60s I remember eating granola for the first time and I’ve eaten plenty since then but no brand of granola ever stood out in my mind. That was until Bare Naked granola came along a few years ago.

With it’s destinctive name, packaging and consistent quality it has quickly come to dominate the granola market. And the brand has been such a success it was recently purchased by Kellogg’s. You can make your brand a success too, when you think domination of your market niche.

4.  Stay Flexible

Let the market be the decision maker. If the name of  your company doesn’t resonate with consumers, test others and if need be, change it.

•  Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Brand

– What category is my business in?

– Who are our key competitors?

– How can we narrow our focus?

– How do we become specialists?

– How do we develop new and different products and services?

– Is the company name the right one?

Your 4 Step Action Plan

1. Focus your brand by narrowly defining what  it stands for. Which two or three words do you want prospects to think of when they think of your brand?

2. Change your brand name to reflect this service mission. If the URL is already taken for that name, consider changing your brand name.

3. Instead of using expensive advertising to build your brand, use  low- and no-cost strategies.

4. Develop a brand-building strategy,document it, and commit to it. Include roles and responsibilities for your staff and a time line for implementation. Block out the time in your own schedule to make it happen.

If you’ve ever wanted to discover how branding can be the secret to your success, listen to the interview with Al Ries and find out what to do to maximize your profits with your brand.

(VALUE: $200)
In less than 67 seconds, discover your company’s online reputation score and how to improve your reviews to attract more clients. Based on an analysis of the review sites that matter.