Session About: Branding Lessons you can Learn from Successful Entrepreneurs
If you want to sell your products and services, you’ll first need to work on marketing your business to your target audience.
Branding is a never-ending process.
Most businesses ignore the branding aspect of their business or start thinking about it at a much later stage. These businesses spend so long developing a product that they forget that people need to buy their products. Without proper branding and marketing, companies aren't able to make the riches they set out to make.
If you’re starting a business in a popular niche, what would compel your audience to buy from you instead of an established competitor? This is where branding comes in. Branding allows your business to tell its story to a target audience. The audience, inspired and touched by the powerful branding, go on to become loyal customers.
Not all entrepreneurs can adequately brand and market their businesses. Lack of branding and marketing is another reason why so many startups fail in their initial stages.
If you want to have a business that is here to stay, have a look at these eight branding lessons that you can learn from successful entrepreneurs:
Lesson #1: Be interesting.
Your business needs to capture the attention of your audience.
Successful businesses stand out from the crowd. Ask yourself, what makes your business different from your competitors?
Steve Jobs made Apple an interesting business. People wanted to be associated with Apple because it was in the business of revolutionizing industries.
Author of Emotional Branding, Marc Gobe, had this to say about Apple:
“Without the brand, Apple would be dead.”
Apple stood out from the crowd because they positioned themselves differently. While other brands said that they made digital products, Apple announced that they challenge the status quo. Which one is going to grab your attention?
Your branding efforts will be more effective if your brand is attractive. Having a unique story and purpose would, without a doubt, tilt the scales in your favor.
Lesson #2: Listen to your audience.
Listening to your audience is essential for the success of your business. Without incorporating user feedback, you’ll be at a disadvantage.
Your business is not going to be able to satisfy all of your customers, but if you keep getting the same response from your audience, it’s worth investigating.
CEO and founder of SALTOPIA Infused Sea Salts LLC, Kimarie Santiago says that "I listened a lot to my customers [when developing my brand] ... they may have a good point, so keep your eyes and ears alert!”
Make sure to gather feedback from your customers. Surveys and small focus groups will allow you to get a deeper understanding of what your customers want and what issues they face when dealing with your business.
Lesson #3: Stick with your brand’s ideology.
Successful brands stick with their ideology. Nike takes a proactive approach and makes it a point to communicate with customers. Nike chooses to take a position not because it has to, but because it needs to.
A brand needs to stay true to its ideology. If change is imminent, a business needs to adopt its ideology and core principles as well.
Formspring had to re-brand its entire business because it had attracted a new type of audience from a social media product. Initially known for business-related, form building products, the company decided that it was necessary to change. Without a change in branding, Formspring’s audiences would have been confused, which is not ideal for any business.
Stay true to what your business is all about, and you'll do alright.
Lesson #4: Pay attention to detail.
It’s the small things that matter.
Most businesses spend so much time on solving herculean problems that they ignore smaller issues entirely. Companies that have a knack for paying attention to detail are more popular with their clients and are more successful.
Terry Archibald was a local French editor at Cranium Inc. He noticed something that didn't meet the company's ideology of CHIEF. In his absence, some packaging labels had a rather unappealing phrase "splendid talents." Immediately Terry sent an email to the Cranium office in Seattle, warning that the expression was not inspiring and did not reflect the brand adequately. Terry came up with "mind-boggling" as a replacement. This small change of phrase was a hit and potentially saved the company from making a huge mistake.
Small mistakes can have a significant impact on your brand image. Repairing tarnished brand perception is not an easy task, and only a few businesses have managed to bounce back from silly mistakes. Prevent avoidable mistakes and keep adapting.
Lesson #5: Don’t ignore the aesthetics of your business.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”- John Keats
One reason why Apple products are so popular is that they are industry leaders in aesthetics. When the first iPod came out in 2001, its competitors were bulky and had a steep learning curve for some users.
The iPod was stylish, modern, and user-friendly. The iPod was such a hit that it continues to influence the latest Apple products in terms of look and feel.
Much of Apple’s focus on making everything look good came from Steve Jobs. Dressed in blue jeans and a black turtleneck, Steve Jobs became a symbol for Apple.
Lesson #6: Provide value to your customers.
Competitors will slay businesses that don't provide adequate value to their customers.
Your customers are what make your business. If you aren't providing enough value to your customers, they'll move on to another
One famous brand that provides immense value to its customers is the Dollar Shave Club. With over 1.5 million monthly subscribers that get razors and other grooming products delivered to their homes, there must be something that the Dollar Shave Club is doing right.
Dollar Shave Club has competitive products, but the thing that makes them stand out from the crowd is their customer service. Dollar Shave Club has made it a priority to take care of its customers. Their customer retention is also high for this very reason.
Customer experience guru, Shep Hyken, had this to say about his experience with the Dollar Shave Club:
“Dollar Shave Club is the total package. Great value with great service.”
Here are some steps that you can take to provide value to your customers:
· Know what your customers want.
· Identify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
· Create different versions of your products or services which cater to different audiences.
· Provide an optimum price point where the customer gets the most value, and you make the most revenue.
Lesson #7: Focus on your niche and grow from there.
Staying in your niche and working hard will allow your business to make a name for itself.
If you keep changing your niche, your business is not going to be able to establish a loyal following.
Take Amazon, for example. Starting as a humble online marketplace for books, Amazon, created by Jeff Bezos, gradually incorporated other things like electronics, apparel, furniture, software, etc. In 2015, Amazon exceeded Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the US.
Not all businesses have the potential or reach to become a giant like Amazon. Small businesses should focus on staying in a single niche. If the time and need come to expand to another niche, they'll be better prepared for the change.
Lesson #8: Keep evolving.
Stagnation will be the death of your business.
Businesses that don't keep up with the world are left behind and forgotten. Over time, the branding strategies that have worked in the past will not work anymore. You'll need to be innovative and keep up with the latest trends and best practices.
Heather Knight, artist, and owner at Element Clay Studio, says that social media has prompted her to make changes to her brand. Her audience has changed over time because of social media, and she now needs to keep up with a younger audience. Heather keeps up with this change by analyzing patterns in her business and making responding appropriately to them.
If you’re not sure about if your business should evolve or not, take the point below into consideration:
· Have your customers changed their behavior recently?
· Are your opponents adopting new technology or strategy?
· Does your team need to evolve to perform better?
Branding and positive brand image have become essential for businesses today. Consumers and customers want to be associated with a brand that shares the same ideals as them.
More than 50% of startups fail in the first five years of their operations. Successful entrepreneurs are few and far between. To avoid mistakes and adopt steps and processes that would provide a better chance of success, businesses should take advice from experienced and veteran entrepreneurs.
Incorporate the branding strategies that have worked in the past but mold them according to your company's style and identity. There's nothing worse than becoming a copycat in the branding world. Your branding strategies might not provide the results that you want immediately, but with consistent effort and time, they'll lead your business to success.
Hamzah Adil is an enthusiastic writer in the niche of branding for startups. He generally looks up for topics related to personal branding, but you name anything branding, and it’s his piece of cake. His passion sparked seeing how some businesses can charge higher for the similar quality other brands offer. Currently, he is continuing his journey with SwiftChat, which is a live chat application made to help business websites in providing top-notch real time support.