There are more and more small businesses launching every day. From a consumer standpoint, it’s exciting because it means we have more choices. Conversely, in the eyes of the entrepreneur, the increasingly competitive landscape can be a bit daunting.

It’s only natural to have doubts and ask yourself how you’ll stand out from your competitors. But that’s the beauty of branding. If you do it well, you’ll be able to set yourself apart.

Let’s say you and a competitor launched your respective businesses a year ago. You’re both selling equivalent products, both have similar price points, and you both offer comparable services. Why is it then that your competitor is doubling (even tripling) your revenue? It could very well be that your competitor has made a name for his business by using the power of branding.

IT’S HUMAN NATURE TO WANT TO FEEL LIKE YOU’RE A PART OF SOMETHING.

Branding is about perceived value. That’s why two products can be of equal value and one business will be able to get away with selling their product at a higher price. This is because the customer believes he is getting a better product. While it’s entirely possible that both businesses have a brand, maybe only one has a brand strategy.

Believe it or not, it makes a difference. In many parts of Asia, being unique and standing out are not always treasured values. Businesses tend to follow a similar pattern of going with traditional marketing methods. However, setting your business apart from others is a great way to attract new customers and increase your sales. If you’re branding well, you have a great chance of getting more exposure than your competitors.

With February upon us, make sure to take the time to sit down and create a strategy. What are your 2016 branding goals? Don’t forget to include actionable items. Here are some tips to get you started.

Purpose

What is the purpose of your business? How does your product or service help fill a consumer need?

Follow-through

Every brand makes a promise to their customers.  As part of your strategy, you need to identify what actions you will take to ensure you meet those promises.

Appeal to emotion

One of the most important things you can do to skyrocket your brand to a new level is to connect with your customers. It’s human nature to want to feel like you’re a part of something. In fact, Psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary dubbed this the “belongingness hypothesis”. In essence, people are motivated by the need to feel connected to others. How can you incorporate this into your brand?

Consistency

You can’t say one thing and then turn around and do the opposite of what you say. Customers are more loyal to brands they can trust. It takes time, but if you remain consistent, you will reap the rewards.

Information is power

First and foremost, you should always keep abreast of new trends, developments or technological advancements as they relate to your product or service. This could mean ways to improve what you’re offering, or it could mean ways to advertise or market your business. You also want to keep on top of what your competitors are doing.

This doesn’t mean you should do what they’re doing! Always stay true to your product and your brand. But knowing what’s going on around you just makes good business sense.

Think of Coca-Cola. It is one of the world’s most powerful and well-known brands. Despite their success, they continue to find ways to promote their brand. In fact, their “Share a Coke” campaign is a great example of how they found a clever way to expand into new markets, while reinforcing their brand.

By replacing their iconic logo with personal names (on each can or bottle), they were inviting customers to connect with one another and share their personalized experiences. Remember how we talked about appealing to emotion? This campaign hit the nail on the head. Now don’t be intimidated. These principles are the same whether you’re a small or a multi-million dollar one.

So go ahead and get brainstorming. For every goal you set, include 2-3 actionable steps you can take to achieve that goal. Be sure the plan is realistic. Otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure before you even start. And remember, behind every successful brand, there is a strategy.

- Source: Branding In Asia Magazine      

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