To grow beyond a small business, you’ll have to make your brand stand out.
Branding is so important that there’s hardly a marketing conversation that doesn’t somehow mention it.
It’s among the most discussed topics in marketing circles, conferences, podcasts, blogs, videos, and pretty much any other multi-topic format you can think of.
Not just in marketing circles, either, but among small businesses and their owners, too.
The time people spend on branding is justified, however, considering the vital role it plays in helping businesses grow healthily.
If you can make your brand stand out, it can become the reason your business grows.
To Make Your Brand Stand Out, You Need To Know What A Brand Is
Lots of small business owners want, desperately, to make their companies stand out.
What they don’t often understand is that it takes a solid brand to do so.
Frequently they don’t know what a brand is.
So how can you make your brand stand out if you don’t know what it is?
Getting an answer can be tough, too.
Nearly everyone in the industry has a different answer to the question.
Some focus on the logo, others on the copy, and still others describe something that contains even more.
The answers vary because there are a lot of right answers.
A brand can – and does – include most of the following things:
- Social media
- The tone of the copy
- Print materials
- Customer service
- Company culture
Truly, the list could probably go on.
With so many elements involved, it’s easy to see why some focus on just one or two of them.
But to make your brand stand out, you need to master all of them.To build a brand you need to connect to an audience. Click To Tweet
By unifying these elements in a cohesive way that your audience can connect to, you can create a truly strong brand.
Or, rather, your audience can.
You see, a brand is about the way your audience sees your company.
It’s their perception of what you do and what you represent.
Without that critical element, you can’t develop a brand.
Thankfully, with a little effort, you can help to shape their perception.
Make Your Brand Stand Out And Be Memorable
Building a strong brand identity can take years to do.
However, it’s essential if you’re going to make your brand stand out.
If you intend to do it well, you need to break some of the ways you’ve been taught to think about business.
You’ve also got to double-down on some others.You haven’t been taught the wrong information. You’ve just been taught to think wrong about it. Click To Tweet
The reality is that the way you’ve been taught to frame some of the concepts of branding is likely wrong.
For most of us, business advice has been focused on staying “middle-of-the-road” for fear of upsetting someone.
But those who take the middle road rarely stand out.
To make your brand stand out, you’ve got to get used to turning heads.
That doesn’t mean you’ll have to offend people.
It does mean that many conventions are going to have to be turned on their heads.
When you’re ready to get the attention you want, here’s what you need to do.
Stop Copying The Big Box Brands
There’s a good chance you’ve been told to do whatever the winners do.
It’s good advice in a certain sense, especially for those new to the world of business.
But using this advice won’t help make your brand stand out.
The largest competitors in your industry are doing fantastic at setting their brands apart.
Doing what they do will only cheapen your brand.
Imagine you run a small coffee shop in a popular neighborhood.
If you tried to copy Starbucks, chances are your potential clients wouldn’t be impressed.
They can simply go to the nearest Starbucks (which likely isn’t that far away) to get the same experience for less money.
Each has spent a lot of time and money developing its brand.
Their costs are kept low by their ability to buy in bulk.
What draws customers to them isn’t something you’ll be able to replicate without losing money.
And, ultimately, your brand will earn a reputation as a knockoff.
Your small business can’t compete, and you most certainly won’t make your brand stand out.
Not in a positive way.
Copying your competition’s branding – especially when it’s an established brand – is dumb.
In fact, it’s rarely OK to copy your competition.
To make your brand stand out, the first thing you have to do is stop replicating someone else.
Find What You Do Differently
Now that we’ve discussed the ways you need to stop copying your competition, let’s talk about what to do next.
To begin to make your brand stand out, you need to know what makes your brand different.
For some businesses, it’s glaringly obvious while others have a lot of trouble here.
But every company does something a little different.
Chances are that you started your company because you saw something specific that needed to be done differently.
Maybe it’s because your product or service started as something different from what was available.
No matter the case, there’s something you do that nobody else in your industry does.
It’s time to home in on it and make it shine.
Figure out that thing that separates you, then begin to focus your brand on it.
Do you have a unique customer experience like Dick’s Last Resort or The Heart Attack Grill?
Is your product something nobody knew they needed?
(No, I can’t believe that exists either.)
Bring that to the spotlight and make your brand about the mentality that fits your unique selling proposition (USP).
Most companies don’t sell a unique product.
What you offer likely exists in a sea of similar products.
However, the way that you offer it is what makes you unique.
When you can make that idea relatable to your clients and your target market, they won’t soon forget you.
You’ll make your brand stand out to them forever.
Let Your Brand Be Itself
When small business owners try to develop their brand it’s common to try to force it to be something it’s not.
A forced personality can never do well.
Trying to force your brand to be something it’s not will send up a red flag for your audience.
They can sense falsity and turn away from it.
It’s rather amazing how strong the bullshit meter is for modern consumers.
So, it’s important that you never try to do or be something that isn’t natural.
Instead, focus on the personality that comes naturally for you.You should be your best customer. Click To Tweet
Because you should represent at least one of your customer personas, you should already have a personality that relates to your target market.
Allow that personality to become the one that represents your brand.
By allowing your true personality to shine through in everything your company does, it’s a genuine way to make your brand stand out.
Who else out there is exactly like you?
Take that personality and infuse it into your brand.
Treat it like a real person.
Let it reflect itself in the way your brand looks, talks, and acts.
If you can learn to do that, not only will your brand be more authentic, but you’ll be far more comfortable presenting it to your target audience.
There’s a level of confidence that comes from being the real you.
And confidence can be what you use to make your brand stand out.
Stand By Your Word
Some of the things you were taught about business were right.
One of the most important is that your word matters.
As a small business, your entire future rests upon your reputation.
If your target market ever stops trusting you, you’ll lose quickly.
The best way to assure that people always trust you is to stand by what you say.
Your word is your bond, and you need to never break it.
Amazingly, that’s also an incredible way to make your brand stand out.
Many people don’t keep their word.
Maybe they were taught that making the sale was more important than honesty.
It’s possible that they weren’t taught to value others as much as they were money.
Regardless, they break promises and tell outright lies.
Not everyone is like this.“Trust is hard-earned, easily lost.” – Jeff Bezos Click To Tweet
However, there are enough people in many industries who aren’t honest that it causes consumers to mistrust everyone else in that industry.
Lots of businesses struggle with their customer’s mistrust because of a few people who weren’t taught right.
But even people who were taught the right thing go about it the wrong way.
They refrain from promises of things they know they can deliver on.
Often, it’s to lower the expectation of their customers.
Even that action devalues their word, though.
While you should never promise something you can’t deliver, you should also never refrain from a promise to avoid having to deliver.
People know when you could have and should have done more.
When they discover that’s true about you, they’ll have a hard time trusting you again.
That interaction makes them feel like they were ripped off.
Promise them as much as you can and stand by it.
You’ll make your brand stand out for sure.
Give More In Places Your Competition Doesn’t
There are, simply put, places that your competition is lacking.
From customer service to product delivery, there is somewhere they are likely failing their market.
The same market you’re after.
If you pay attention to those who have worked with your competition before, you’ll notice a common thread.
While you need to at least match their quality and satisfaction level in all areas of business, the place they are failing is the very space you need to excel.
You can’t just do it well.
Your performance in that arena must go well beyond what the customer wants.
Customers will always compare the areas the competition gave them the worst experienc to the way your brand performs there.
It’s easy to win a client by simply being better in that arena.
However, should that area of business become a matter of contention, another competitor could quickly best you there.
Ideally, you’ll take that area where your competition fails and turn it into one of your strongest features.
Then you’ll tell everyone about the way you handle that correctly.
Show your target audience how that’s one of the things you excel at.
That strength fills a need that the market has.
As your company builds its reputation for succeeding there, your market will begin to turn to you.
When you can do what your competition simply can’t, you make your brand stand out.
Never Take Your Customers For Granted
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business.
Without them, you can’t survive.
However, what should be a painfully obvious fact is often lost to many small business owners.
They treat their customers like an inconvenience.
Or worse, like their customers should appreciate the fact that they’re willing to do business.
Companies expect that a job done will continue to bring customers back.
Not even a job well done, either.
But their customers can feel that attitude.
Eventually, it sours the relationship, and the customers find another company.Your customers matter. If you forget that, you’ve already lost. Click To Tweet
Rather than treat your customers like they owe you something, remember their importance.
Show your customers that you appreciate them.
Like honesty, genuine appreciation is a rare thing.
It’s powerful like nothing else in business is.
When you appreciate your customers, they feel special.
As if they have a special bond with you and your brand.
That bond develops into loyalty and evangelism.
By demonstrating genuine appreciation, you make your brand stand out.
Comparing your gratitude to your competitors’ sense of entitlement, which your clients will automatically do, they’ll find something in your brand that they want.
A sense of importance.
In showing they matter they feel special.
Ultimately people decide to refer based on how it will make them look.
Referring you becomes so much easier to do because they know you’ll reflect well on them.
There isn’t a better way to make your brand stand out as trustworthy and great to work with.
Don’t Be Too Shy To Take A New Angle
It’s not likely you’re alone in your industry.
There are competitors all over who vie for the same audience you do.
Often, this causes you to struggle to make your brand stand out.
The industry has a way of doing things, and it’s usually for a reason.
Deviating from that can be a huge risk for your brand.
But great risk often brings greater rewards.
You may need to look at your industry in a different way if you want to make your brand stand out.
Some of the greatest brand stories in recent years come from companies who chose to tackle their industry in a new way.
Take Death Wish Coffee for example.
Their product is coffee, something many Americans drink to find extra energy.
Most brands talk about the flavor or aroma of their blend.
Some focus on sustainability or fair business practices.
While Death Wish does adhere to these same conventions, they focus primarily on a different angle.
They claim to make the most caffeinated coffee in the world.
That focus transformed them from a small, niche coffee maker into a major brand relatively quickly.
However, they also opted to take a different approach in attitude.
Taking a bold approach not just to their roast, but to their marketing as well, they demonstrate an attitude that matches the skull and crossbones on their label.
By infusing a whole new take on your industry into every element of your brand, you will find it easy to make your brand stand out.
Remember That The Story Is About You
If you want to make your brand stand out, you need to tell your story.
Something that many small businesses often forget to do.
Getting lost in the day to day nonsense of your industry, you begin to tell a mundane story that your audience can’t relate to.
They fail to see how the content you bring them matters to them, or even to you.
You immediately become a forgettable brand.
In case you couldn’t tell, forgettable is the opposite of memorable.
Your job is to help them see who your brand really is.
As you create communication with them through your content outlets, you have to reveal the journey that your brand takes.
Remembering who your target market is, give them something that shows how your brand fits into their lives.
It shouldn’t be all about the generics of what your industry can do but rather about the specifics that your company does.
Communicate the stuff you do to make your brand stand out.
Everything we’ve talked about up until this point should permeate the story you tell.
What brought you to where you are now and where do you plan on going?
Tell your audience.
Let them in on the culture and environment that your company encompasses.
Share with them your secrets and the next steps.
Make your brand stand out by making your audience a part of it.
Tap Into Your Customers’ Emotions
How do your customers feel about your company?
Ideally, they’ll feel joy and excitement about working with you.
In every interaction, you need to remind them of that.
Customer emotions are a powerful way to make your brand stand out.
When your audience feels good about your brand, they’ll come to you more often.
They’ll share that with others.
Trust, joy, excitement, and fondness are all things you should be focused on developing within your customers.
Cultivating those emotions leads to loyalty.
It also leads to more business.People should love working with you. Click To Tweet
Share stories about the happiness your customers have about what you’ve done for them.
Do what you can to reflect the positive experience of working with your brand.
The more you communicate it, the more it will spread.
As it spreads, so will the size of your market that becomes your customers.
You make your brand stand out as one that people love to work with.
Consumers dread what an experience will be like the first time they work with a company.
Communicating the joy of working with your brand sets their mind at ease and makes it easier for them to choose you.
A little happiness goes a long way to making your brand stand out.
Stick To What You’re Good At
As brands seek new angles, they step into territory that’s unfamiliar to them.
Most of the time they hit on something they can work well with, and it allows them to differentiate further.
However, sometimes they find their way into something they aren’t great at.
When they stick with it too long, people get wind of it.
Doing something you aren’t great at will only build you a bad reputation.
It’s not the way you want to make your brand stand out.
While you should attempt new angles as it makes sense, you need to recognize early when you aren’t great at something.
Hurting your brand by offering what you’re not excelling at leaves you with a major vulnerability that your competitors can use against you.
Instead, focus on the things you do well.
Continue to hone those abilities, seeking to make them the best they can be.
In fact, sometimes the new angle you should take is one that makes what you’re already great at even better.
By doing something well and surpassing your competition, you can quickly make your brand stand out as one of the best.
That moves you forward faster than venturing into dangerous territory.
Plus, using something you’re great at as your primary focus in and of itself can make your brand stand out.
Your competitors are focused on finding new ways to stand out.
Stick to making what you’re already doing even better.
Never Abandon Your Mission
Your mission is at the core of what you do.
It’s the single most important thing you can use to make your brand stand out.
Why are you in business?
What problem are you trying to solve or what need are you trying to fill?
Not just a generic statement, your mission statement should describe exactly what you set out to do with your product, service, or company.
If your mission doesn’t stand out, your brand won’t either.
That’s why developing your mission statement is so important to your brand.
Once you have one that sets your brand apart, stick to it.
Making all your company’s decisions based on how they serve your mission is so different from most of your competition that it’s almost a foreign concept.
A surefire way to make your brand stand out, your mission statement should guide everything you do.
Just by following that basic principle you’ll already make your brand stand out among your industry.
Mission statements are like the moral compass for your brand.
As the foundation to everything you do, it will make every effort to make your brand stand out far more successful.
Make Your Brand Stand Out And Grow Fast
Now you know what it takes to make your brand stand out.
You also understand why so many small businesses don’t stand out.
Apply these tips to advance well beyond the rest of your industry and begin to create brand permanence.
Watch your competitors fall swiftly behind.
Most importantly, see your business grow.