Every small business wants to be at the top of their customer’s minds and the first choice when it comes to purchasing.
Building and managing a brand can play a significant role in making a company popular among its customers.
Think about it, if I were to sing, “give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that…” I’m sure you know how the song ends.
If you don’t know…check this out.
More than a Company Logo
Business branding is more than your company logo. It’s the one thing that people remember when they think of your business. It is the core of your business, its values and all the interaction you have with your clients and customers.
You see, if you get branding right it will not only grow your small business, but let your customers know what you stand for.
There is a coffee company here in Tulsa, Oklahoma that had an interesting time a few years ago. So interesting that Starbucks brewed up a lawsuit against them.
The company, Doubleshot Coffee Company, was already known for being serious about their coffee. So serious, that they built a reputation around being willing to kick customers out of their store for having the wrong type of coffee etiquette.
The TV show Portlandia did a skit based on the store:
Doubleshot Coffee wasn’t trying to be all things to all people, look at their messaging, “… UNIQUE AND DELICIOUS COFFEES FOR THOSE WHO CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE.”
I’ve tasted their coffee and it is delicious.
Without doing a full-scale breakdown of their marketing message a few things are abundantly clear…
- They aren’t trying acquire the Folgers crowd (more on this later).
- They aren’t going after customers that like their coffee to be scolding hot. Which leads me to the next point.
- They aren’t going after the Starbucks crowd.
Their customers, by and large, are avid coffee drinkers that appreciate a company that will take the time to get it right.
So what does this mean to you and what lessons can you take from it to apply to your business?
Good question, I’m glad you asked. Here are some points to consider as you create and improve your business’s brand.
Use the C.O.R.E. Framework to begin your Small Business branding
This is a simple device I created to help you understand how you can brand your company. Like most things, it’s not difficult. It just takes some time to really think through what you want your customers to remember when they think of your business.
It’s different to what you’d traditionally find regarding your brand. It’s heavier on the substance that make your brand and lighter on marketing collateral (logo and website design, company colors, business cards, etc.).
The C.O.R.E. Framework is really about focusing on a deeper level. The things that matter before you create marketing collateral. It is from the core that you actually create those things.
Let’s take a quick look at what it means.
C – Central Message
O – One main thing
R – Recommendable to Others
E – Exceptional Customer Service
One thing to keep in mind while reading this…I presume you are good at what you do and offer great products and/or services. Without a great offering your brand will be more hype, than solutions that can really help your customers.
Go ahead and read on, but before spending too much time thinking of your brand and branding. Tighten up your offering and then come back.
C – Central Message
Key concept: is to uncover the most important business activity/benefit.
The strength of branding comes from understanding and knowing what your business is about. Unfortunately, many small businesses never take the time to uncover their central marketing message, so they go after everyone.
This is a mistake.
By knowing what your business does best, its ideal client, and how you have historically served that client is a start into discovering central message.
Let’s dive deeper into this by returning to the coffee industry.
Take Folgers, it’s a coffee company that has been around for 120 years plus. They have generations, let me say that again…they have generations of coffee-drinking-families that have shared their coffee together. I once asked a guy what he likes about Folgers coffee and his response to me was, “I remember drinking it with my dad in the morning.”
It makes sense that Folgers’ central marketing message is about having a fresh start to your day with Folgers in your cup.
Check out this video, they want you to realize that people (for over 120 years) have great experiences and a lot of those experiences are around the activity of drinking their coffee.
Whether the coffee is good or bad is irrelevant. They are primarily selling an experience, over having the best coffee in the world.
To apply the Central Message concept in your business, consider the following:
- Look at how long you’ve been in business and think about why clients and customers buy your products or use your service.
- The next time someone buys from you, ask why they chose your business.
- What benefits do customers receive after purchasing from you? With Folgers it is a fresh start, with your business it may be something similar but go a little deeper.
- What values are important to your small business? How are they seen in your product offering?
This should be enough to get you started with uncovering the central message of your business.
O – One Main Thing
Key concept: is to remove any competing marketing messages.
Your customers are bombarded with advertisements and commercials hundreds of times in a day. To fight through all the clutter you have to hold a specific place in their mind.
If you are marketing your business as a “do-it-all” company you’ll probably lose the best clients you truly want.
Think of it this way…
When you want Italian food, you go to a place that specializes in Italian cuisine.
When you want Mexican food, you go to a restaurant that serves Mexican cuisine.
When you want great tasting breakfast food, you go to a diner that is known for great breakfast food.
Seldom, if ever, do you choose to pay money to a restaurant that serves every type of cuisine that you’d want. If you don’t do it, why would you expect your customers?
To apply the One Main Thing concept in your business, consider the following:
- You may offer several services, that’s okay, but place your biggest marketing efforts on the most important service you offer.
- Which service or product do you offer that will normally turn into further services, or cross-sells with other products?
- Focus on one thing and then bring in other areas of your business after your’ve optimized an area to be extremely profitable.
R – Recommendable to Others
Key concept: is to be a business others want to talk about.
The word “recommend” comes from the word “commend.” Commend is an action word in which someone is mentioning and praising your business to others.
If you’ve worked out your Central Message / One Main Thing and worked them into your marketing. When your clients recommend you, they will repeat the message that you want shared.
This is key.
In this way, your company’s brand is really starting to grow and people are sharing the message you want them to share. Also, this will show that your company holds a specific place in your customer’s mind.
When I mention the word “soft drink,” which drink to you think of? What about “reliable and dependable four-door sedan”? From person to person there will be a little variation, but I’m certain that there are only a few key brands that anyone thinks of.
To apply the Recommendable to Others concept in your business, consider the following:
- Have you asked your customers to recommend your company? If so, next time ask them what they’d say…this would be a great exercise in uncovering your brand identity.
- Come up with 3-5 reasons why you’d recommend your company. Do your competitors say the same thing? If so, you need to differentiate more.
- Collect reviews regularly and see if they match what you want others to think about your business.
E – Exceptional Customer Service
Key Concept: is to serve your way to greatness.
There is nothing like great customer service. It’s the one thing that will bring customers back into your business to make repeat purchases.
Virgin America airlines has a great fleet of planes. They all stay in the sky and if I were more inclined, I’d give you some technical details about which they could boast and market. They don’t market the things that everyone else could market.
They market how great they are at customer experience, this is why they are seen as one of the best domestic airlines in America.
They say they want to “make flying good again.” They make it fun and exceptional by providing a one of a kind flying experience that customers love.
They are spending a lot of money to serve their customers and create a great customer experience. It doesn’t mean that you have to. I’m sure there are some easy wins that you can drum up to make your customers smile.
To apply the Exceptional Customer Service concept in your business, consider the following:
- Do you have a business that can reward customers with rewards or discounts after so many purchases? You’ll see a lot of businesses in the food industry do this.
- After a client or customer makes a large purchase are you able to give a complimentary follow-up service call or consultation?
- Everyone likes handwritten letters and postcards. What about a yearly note to let your customers know you appreciate them?
- You could send coffee gift cards, treats, or offer surprise upgrades. I love it when this happens!
If you’ve made it this far I’m impressed! Thanks for sticking it out. My little reward to you is a FREE 15 minute web marketing strategy call where you can “pick my brain.” To receive it, go to my contact form and send me a message with the words “Basics of Branding” in caps in the subject of the email message.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.