Companies, like Hilton and Marriott, spend a lot of time and money in creating brands that are easily identified by their customers. Along with being easily recognised, branding allows these companies to create a sense of trust with their guests, which is another key element to their branding goals. Many small business owners I talk to understand that branding is essential to their business, but a surprisingly high number of them don’t really know why, or how to replicate the strategies of these big players.
Branding is a way of defining your business to yourself, your team and your guests. Having a strong strategic brand can ensure that you create loyal guests that become brand advocates and can set you apart from competitors.
Outlined below are some of the tools I have implemented to create a strong brand in my own businesses.
Start with Defining Your Brand
To be successful with your branding efforts you need to make sure that you have a strong grasp on exactly what it is that you offer. Start with listing your products and services and pinpoint exactly how these meet your guest’s needs. For example, if you offer affordable holidays for families you would then make a note that this meets the emotional need for a family vacation and it alleviates the concerns over the price.
When Building Your Brand, Think of it as a Person
Every one of us is an individual that has positive and negative attributes, we have our own motivations and values, this is what makes up our personality. Our personality is reflected in how we carry ourselves and how we interact with the world. By creating a brand ‘personality’ you can create a voice across your social media platforms, through your advertising and even in the way your team interacts with your guests. Take for example Virgin Blue, they have a fun and energetic brand that is reflected in the way they interact with their guests online, over the phone, even in their terms and conditions.
Consider What is Driving Your Business
What does your business believe in? What does it stand for? WHo are your businesses heroes? Knowing these elements can allow you to create powerful emotional connections with your guests. For example, you may want to ensure that your Instagram account reflects your business’s stance on looking after the local environment and that you make a point of highlighting the local animals and natural sites in your area.
Aim to Build Long-Term Relationships with Your Guests
Trust is one of the best tools that a business owner can have at their disposal when it comes to building a brand. If you take the time to connect with your guests and show them that you are truly interested in them, you will build powerful advocates for your business. Make sure that you keep all the promises you make with your guests and make sure that you are honest, especially if you have to give them bad news.
Speak to Your Guests with a Consistent Voice
Making sure that your business has a consistent voice across all communication channels is a great way for you to ensure that you have a consistent brand. There is nothing worse than a business that is uneven, unpredictable or inconsistent. If you are using automated responses with your guest make sure they are written in a way that still shows personality and does not come across like a template response. Likewise, making sure that your team interacts with guests in a consistent way can help to reinforce your brand and ensures a high standard of customer service.
Don’t Try to Mimic the Look of Chains or Big Brands
Be proud of who and what your business is because it’s unique. When you replicate the personality of bigger brands, then you lose what is special about you and your business. If your guests wanted to go to a big company and spend their time with them, then they would. Your guests are coming to your business because of who you are and how you offer your services, so make sure that this is front and centre when creating your brand.
The Old Way of Stamping Your Logo on Everything Won’t Cut it
While it is great to have your logo on your towels and on your business signage, this does not mean that you are building a brand. Today your brand incorporates the way you interact with your guests, it is in the way you interact online and it is the way you position your pricing, products and services – it’s everything. Your brand is the heart and soul of your business. A logo on your entrance gate or in your reception will only identify your location or that your guests are in the right place, not who or what your business is.
Operating a successful business is more than having a good location and a competitive price. Many guests want to find a unique experience or a personalised memory. By taking the time to build a good brand you will be better positioned to serve these needs and thrive as a business.