According to Entrepreneur.com, branding is “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.” Would we identify an Apple Macbook if it had a pear on it? If we are not eating McDonald’s fries out of red container with a ginormous golden arch, are we REALLY eating McDonald’s fries? When we break it down to the nitty gritty, brands, logos and trademarks help to identify the difference between products - without it, everything would look the same!
The best way to make sure your branding stands out against competitors is simply starting by asking yourself the right questions. Now I know what you’re thinking, “What are the ‘right questions’? I just want to make really cool sneakers that track my steps and warm up my feet when it gets cold”. Trust me, I hear you! We are always looking for ways to distinguish our brand but we can’t do that without putting some thought into what we want to do and how we’re going to achieve it. This is why it’s important to consider this list of what I think are the ‘right questions!’
NOW COMES THE FUN STUFF: BRAINSTORMING!
Stop what you’re doing, get out a piece of pen and paper and start writing!
1. What do you want to be known for?
Find your niche! This will be the foundation of everything you do. This is what will allow you to establish yourself amongst other brands - after all, nobody likes a copycat! So, if you want to be the only tea shop that offers customers the ability to customize their own blend online, establish it from the get-go and make sure you are ready to fulfill that need.
2. How are you going to differentiate yourself and why should someone pay attention to your brand instead of a competitor?
This goes hand in hand with the first question. Why would somebody care that you’re making 100% vegan candles for $6.00 versus candles available for half the price at the dollar store? Candles are candles: they all light the same and make your home smell great, aren’t they? This is where you ask yourself: “what is my unique selling point that makes my brand stand out?” That is going to be the driving question of most consumers, so you better give them a good reason.
3. What do you want to achieve with your brand?
Being cognizant of what you want your brand to achieve will guide you through the trials and tribulations of making your brand well-known. Do you want to be the first company offering food delivery on unicycles? Messy - but totally doable! How do you plan on making that happen? Align yourself with the right connections and consistently look for ways to build your brand.
4. How do you plan on marketing yourself? What tools and services should you use?
This is just as important as knowing what you want to achieve because these tools will help you get to where you want to be. Social media platforms that offer analytics, like Instagram and Twitter, can be a huge asset when trying to understand best timing and audience segmentation. Establishing your marketing tactics are key to establishing a successful online brand.
5. Who do you want to work with and why?
The brand, the idea and the product or service will always be yours - unless you don’t want it to be anymore and you decide to sell it for a million dollars, it’s honestly up to you. But until then, you are making the decisions involving the brand, especially who you want to work with. From the networking stages to collaborations that could lead to long-lasting relationships and possible partnerships, a brand is even more successful when you work with the right people. There is nothing better than collaborating with a food blogger that not only believes in your brand but genuinely wants to work with you to help you grow. Having like-minded influencers and brands in your corner will help be the driving force to take your online brand from 0 to 100 real quick.
THE NEXT STEPS
Now, I know I said it’s best to ask yourself the right questions before you even begin establishing your brand online BUT although these questions are important, the underlying success of your brand begins with YOU.
YOU are going to be the one devising new, innovative ideas.
YOU are going to be the one laying the framework for potential customers and clients.
YOU are the reason this brand is going to flourish and possibly become the one and only celebrity ride sharing app in North America.