People are talking about branding. It’s a popular topic that gets business owners wondering what it is and why they need it. For some, branding can be tough to grasp, and many people believe that branding is just for big corporations with substantial budgets. But with small businesses generating 44% of the U.S. economic activity1,, branding becomes a necessary ingredient for growing—and thriving—in business. The truth is, smart branding can be the difference between attracting and working with ideal clients who value your expertise versus customers who take advantage of you, doing rewarding work that you love rather than tasks that exhaust your will, and charging fair and profitable rates instead of being nickel-and-dimed.
So how do you know if you need a brand refresh? With your website up, business cards in hand, and your network on the rise, won’t your business naturally succeed? Who needs branding? Here’s who:
The Jack of All Trades
When you’re a small business owner, you have all the titles. Chief Cook and Bottle Washer is one label that gets joked about, but it’s valid! So often you are not only doing the billable work, but you are also the HR department, IT expert, sales team, accounts manager, and the marketing expert. You are inundated with to-do lists and barely treading water. You just don’t need another title of Brand Guru. But, smart branding can help you streamline your lead generation process, nurture prospects, and close more ideal clients in a shorter time period with less stress. That’s like getting rid of three titles right there!
There are so many “things” that you know you should be doing to take your business to the next level, but where should you start? Are your current marketing efforts effective? Does your visual identity resonate with your prospects? Should you update your website? Advertise? Develop an email newsletter? What about your visibility on social media? There are many brand and marketing opportunities for each and every business (click here to download 100 Ways to Market Your Business), and it can be overwhelming to figure out what is best for your business. Smart branding will focus your efforts and have you feeling confident that your messaging and outreach are aligned with your goals.
The Funnel Flop
There’s nothing more frustrating than having a funnel with no prospects in it. Or, worse yet, a funnel with lots of leads that aren’t converting to clients at the bottom of your sales pipeline. Either way, something is broken that is resulting in not enough prospects, or off-target clients that help pay the bills but aren’t your dream customers. Smart branding can help you reach and attract more ideal customers from the start, so building trust and signing deals becomes effortless.
The Comfort Seeker
Sometimes you get so comfortable with your existing brand that you forget to evolve it as your business grows, technology advances, and markets change. It’s like an old pair of blue jeans… Take a step back and evaluate whether your brand is fresh and authentic or needs some amping up. Smart branding can bring your otherwise stale, ineffective, or inconsistent messaging and visual identity into the present day and ensure that you are speaking directly to your target audience and addressing their pain points in a clear, compelling way.
As I mentioned, businesses do evolve, and one of the primary reasons why is because people change. People are the foundation of every small business. As we journey through our careers and seasons of life, priorities and goals shift to match where our heads and hearts are. Whether you are ramping up in business, changing your specialty, or transitioning into retirement, your brand should reflect precisely where you want to be. Smart branding will clarify exactly who you want to be working with and how you can help them with a brand voice that is true to you.
In my early years, I worked with a client to help him create some marketing materials for his professional speaking business. He called me one day to discuss a project, and after greeting me and casually asking how business was, he asked, “Are you making any money?” I was caught off guard by his directness, but his question has stuck with me over the years. None of us go into business to just get by. We all want to earn a good living and lead a comfortable life. But so often we are bullied into lowering our prices to land a job or hesitant to raise our current fees for fear of losing existing clients. Smart branding leads to business engagements where clients value your expertise and pay you what you’re worth, so you’ll be able to pay the bills—and pay yourself.
These are just a few types of business people who should consider a brand refresh or overhaul. Which one are you? Or two? Don’t waste time and money trying to market your business without a smart brand to clarify its focus, messaging, and voice. Your efforts will surely fall flat.