Why business image matters

A smart restaurant owner in his restaurant

Branding and business image are just as key for start-ups as they are for established businesses - they're hugely influential in how potential customers will perceive you. Ces Loftus-Price provides her golden rules for branding your new venture

Branding is vital to successful businesses of all sizes. Many people who start a new enterprise mistakenly focus purely on the drive to make sales, without first ensuring they have a winning brand - the very thing that can deliver sales.

Getting your business image right from the very beginning can help you get to the level you want to be at. Getting it wrong or putting it off until later may have a seriously negative effect.

For example, if your business looks cheap, you're likely to attract customers in search of cheap goods. Their loyalty will last as long as your low prices.

That's fine if you are opening a 'stack-it-high, sell-it-cheap' operation, but most businesses need to dedicate time and effort to developing a professional and polished image so they can sell at a sustainable price.

Ten golden rules of branding

Before investing in any pre-launch marketing or promotion, think about the type of customers you want to attract. Don't underestimate the power of your brand image - it can play a significant role in influencing your target market.

Here are my ten golden branding rules for attracting the customers you want:

  1. Identify your target market - your ideal and most profitable customers.
  2. Understand and focus on their pain and desire.
  3. Find the best ways to communicate the reasons why you are the best option for taking away their pain or fulfilling their desire.
  4. Know your brand values and be prepared to consistently deliver an authentic brand experience - this is an integral part of creating a credible business image.
  5. Identify a simple, positive message to impress and win over ideal customers. What makes you different to the competition?
  6. Carefully choose your brand colours, fonts, visual images and slogans.
  7. Use positive 'brand triggers' - the thoughts potential customers will have when they see and experience your brand.
  8. Apply your brand image consistently throughout your business - that includes your website, signage, stationery, marketing materials, social profiles, etc. A coherent and professionally presented image inspires confidence.
  9. Plan your marketing strategy effectively to make full use of your branding, so you can connect with your target market now and in the future.
  10. Set yourself goals and plan how to use your image to your advantage as your business grows.

Professional help with start-up branding

When developing your branding, it's worth paying for expert advice, if your business can afford it. As a start-up, your brand image needs to work extra hard, because you will be up against more established competitors trying to attract a similar target audience.

That's not something you should leave to chance. Do not view developing your business image as an expense - it's a huge investment in your future success.

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