How to define your small business brand

Think of your favorite product – what do you like best about it? How does it make you feel when you use it? What do you think it says about you when you do use it?

I have a favorite national coffee shop chain that I love to visit. I love that the coffee tastes a little burnt, and that I always know what I’m going to get from the product. I know that if my drink doesn’t meet my expectations, the store expects me to speak up so they can make it right. I love the convenience of the drive-thru; and I love the soft leather chairs inside where I can curl up with a good friend or book. These are all aspects of this particular coffee chain’s branding, from meeting client expectations to little red cardboard cups in December.

There are “three C’s” of a brand – conversation, culture, community – and my favorite coffee chain nails them.

    • Conversation is how customers engage with a brand (with the convenience of the drive-thru or for a sit-down with friends).

 

    • Culture is who a brand is, from product to employees (they’ll make it right for me).

 

    • Communities speaks to the customers – interests and influencers (the community that the red cups bring during the holidays).

 

These 3 C’s are what established my brand loyalty to that coffee shop – how I engage, what I expect, and the emotional & product return I receive.

Does your company have an established brand? Did you consider the three C’s when building your brand equity? Here are tips to get your brand wheels turning:

Create a brand identity

    1. Conduct a “We are, we are not” exercise: In two columns, list words that either do or do not describe what your company stands for. For example, “we are witty but we are not sarcastic, we are innovative but we are not wacky.”

 

    1. Decide who you are in the competitive space: Are you the early adopter? Are you the bargain bin? Or do you represent luxury? You often can’t be more than one at a time.

 

    1. Create a brand message: What is the one sentence that defines what you do and why you do it?

 

    1. Define your aesthetic: Create a visual of colors, style of imagery (photography? Illustration?) and font.

 

 

Quality – file sharing professionalism, early adopter to tech with e-signatures, client first with client portals

Promote your brand

    1. Let your tools do the talking: Your website, client portals, and file sharing system should all reflect a cohesive brand aesthetic

 

    1. Social media: Set policies on how often you post and the type of content you post that reflect both brand message and brand visuals

 

    1. Develop and practice your elevator pitch: Be able to explain succinctly who you are and why you do it (aka #3 from the previous list)

 

    1. Find your advocates: Listen on social media, review sites, and in your store to discover who is spreading the word of your brand. As your brand messaging becomes more cohesive, it will be easier for fans to become advocates.

 

Once you have set your brand, stay consistent! You will reap the rewards of recognition, higher perceived value, and consumer loyalty.

About the Author

As Content Manager, Beth Anne Ballance loves to see great content and witty social media fall in love, surrounded by customer advocates. A Raleigh native, she joined the Citrix ShareFile team in 2015 as the Social Media Marketing Manager. Beth Anne graduated from UNC-Greensboro as the Joseph M. Bryan Scholar and her claim to fame was being named TIME's 8th Sassiest Brand on Twitter.