Tony Aponte, Internet Marketing Consultant

“You can forget what you heard, but can never forget an experience….”

That’s such a powerful statement. That is from a quote from prolific American author, poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou where her actual quote was “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Let that sink in a bit….
small business branding
We, humans, are very emotional. We make decisions based on logic, but ignore our emotional needs.  As a result, this ruins the balance where reason and intuition hinges. So, if you are in business and all you are thinking about is just how to make profit, you are in for a shocker. Your business exists only to the degree to which you give your customers a worthwhile experience and your profit is the result of how well you made them feel. So, when it comes to small business branding, you must realize that it is ALL about the customer. And let me tell you… This a lesson I had to learn as well.  I was chasing the money instead of focusing on the customer experience. A hard lesson learned but learned nevertheless.

What Is A Brand?

A Brand Is
The total of the experiences your customers and potential customers have when they interact with your product or service.
A Strong Brand
Speaks volumes of what your company does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility.
Your Brand
Is in everyday interactions with your customers, the images you share, the messages you post on your website, the content of your marketing materials, and in your posts on social networks.
No brand can exist in isolation; there HAS to be a brand strategy through which the experience of what you offer is brought to the customer or potential customer. Here is the conundrum that many small businesses have….when thinking of a brand, they automatically start to think of the Big Name brands like Coke, Nike, Apple, Oprah Winfrey and so on. They have this perception that to be a brand you need to have this BIG image. So, let’s break down what a brand really is… A brand stands out amongst competition and gives customers something to rally around so, they have to be intentional about the brand. Got it? Ok, so how does this apply to your business? Several key factors to keep in mind. They are:
How Can A Small Business Build A Brand?
01 Stand For Something
If your business does not stand for something, it will fall for anything. In your niche, what does your business stand for? Can your customers relate with what you stand for with a simple sentence? Have you developed the reputation that your organization stands for something? Branding makes you stand out, and if you are to stand out, you had better stand for something!
02 Keep Your Promise
Nothing wows a customer like a product or service that delivers on its promise. A happy customer is the surest bet for referrals.
03 Be Customer Driven
You are not in control of your brand. Let me repeat that… You are NOT in control of your brand! You can set your brand’s direction, but how your brand is perceived is determined by your customers and potential customers. Turn your satisfied customers into your brand’s ambassadors – spreading your ideas and brand to their own networks. Spend time nurturing relationships with such people.
  1. Who are they?
  2. What can they give and receive in order to help your brand?
Ultimately, successful brands recognize that if they help their customers succeed, the customers will, in turn, help the brand succeed.
04 Deliver Value
Value does not have to mean you are being cheap. You can focus on product leadership, operational excellence or customer excellence and develop an edge so that you stand out among competition.
Since you also need a brand strategy to make your brand successful, also note that for your strategy to be successful, you need to:
  • Think Long Term: You must come to terms with the fact that brands are not built overnight, so your brand strategy should focus on the long term. Think five, ten, fifty years ahead. Think marathon, not 5k.
  • Be flexible: Your brand strategy should be flexible enough to accommodate changes in the market, customers, and competition.
Always remember, if you think BRANDING, think STANDING OUT!