3 Branding Questions to Ask When You're Starting a Business
So, you've got the perfect solution for a specific group of people and you've read all the books you need to read. It's time to build your brand.
Proper branding sets you apart in the crowded marketplace you'll be operating in. Whether you're selling a product, service, or experience, your brand is the lens through which your customers see your business.
Want to make sure that vision is clear and not clouded? Answer these three branding questions and your new business will be off to a great start.
Question #1 | What is the core message of my brand?
Every brand has a story. Knowing your brand’s story begins with knowing your company’s mission, vision, and the core values that differentiate you. These are the fundamental reasons a customer chooses you over a cheaper brand.
It takes time to get these answers because we have so much emotion tied up in them as entrepreneurs. Take the time! The clarity your team and your customers will have on the other side is priceless.
The Importance of a Core Message:
Direction and Focus: Your brand's core message provides a clear direction for all your marketing, branding, and business strategies, ensuring that they all align with a single vision.
Differentiation: In a crowded marketplace, the core message helps you stand out, highlighting what's unique and authentic about your brand.
Connection: This is the feeling a brand and customer have between each other. My wife is deeply connected with Target much to the detriment of our bank account. Connection helps you resonate with your target audience by establishing an emotional and cognitive bond between consumers and your brand.
Consistency: A clear core message ensures consistency across all communication channels, building trust and recognition.
Examples of Core Messages:
Nike: "Just Do It" isn't just a tagline; it's a core message that emphasizes empowerment, determination, and breaking limits.
Apple: "Think Different" encapsulates the brand's commitment to innovation and non-conformity.
Disney: Their core revolves around magical experiences, joy, and the wonder of childhood.
Your brand's core message is a foundational element of your branding strategy. It's the promise you make and the value you deliver. Investing time and effort into understanding, refining, and consistently conveying this message can go a long way in cementing your brand's position in the hearts of your consumers.
Question #2 | Who is my target audience?
I can't tell you how many times we've met with a prospective client at High Beam Marketing and asked them to tell us who their product or service is for, only to have them say, "Everyone could use this!"
It's a great sentiment. The desire to serve everyone means your heart is in the right place but it's always going to be the wrong strategy when you're branding a new business.
Your resources are limited at this stage of business. That means that you have to focus on a specific problem for a specific group of people if you hope to gain any traction.
Nike started as a shoe company whose only goal was to help track athletes perform better. Apple started as a computer company aimed at helping hobbyists build the best personal computers. Facebook started by helping college students connect with each other 24 hours a day online.
Why Defining a Target Audience Matters:
Resource Efficiency: By focusing on the right audience, you allocate resources—be it time, money, or effort—more efficiently, leading to a higher ROI.
Tailored Messaging: When you understand who you're speaking to, your brand's messaging can be more personalized and impactful.
Product Development: Knowing your audience helps in creating products or services tailored to their specific needs and preferences.
Stronger Relationships: By addressing the direct concerns and interests of your target audience, you're better positioned to cultivate loyal customers.
Key Elements to Consider:
Demographics: Age, gender, income level, education, occupation, etc.
Psychographics: Interests, hobbies, values, lifestyles, and other psychological criteria.
Geographics: Are your customers local, regional, national, or international?
Behavioral Traits: How do they use your product? How frequently do they purchase?
Needs and Preferences: What are the specific pain points or desires of your target audience?
Reassess and Adjust:
It's important to note that target audiences can evolve over time. As market conditions, societal norms, or technologies change, so might your audience's needs and behaviors. Regularly revisit and adjust your audience definition to stay relevant.
Align Your Brand to Your Target Audience
The essence of the question, "Who is my target audience?" is about aligning your brand or business with the people most likely to find value in what you offer. It's about creating a symbiotic relationship where both parties—your brand and your audience—benefit. The better you understand your audience, the better positioned you'll be to serve them, fostering brand loyalty and driving success.
Question #3 | What emotion do I want my brand to trigger?
According to the University of Southern California, we’ve gone from seeing 500 ads a day in the ’70s to 5,000+ ads per day 50 years later. If you stopped, processed, and reacted to every ad you witnessed, you wouldn’t be able to function.
If you want to cut through the noise, your brand has to invoke one of the following emotions.
Why do we have these emotions? The answer is simple - judgment.
With all that information being processed every day, our brains use emotions to help us make quicker decisions. Antonio Damasio describes these decision processes in his Somatic Marker theory.
Somatic markers are a special instance of feelings generated from secondary emotions. According to Damasio, those emotions and feelings have been connected to predicted future outcomes of certain scenarios. Essentially, your body feels what you should do before you do it.