How to Brand Your Business
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Branding your business is often one of the most difficult steps in launching a new product or service. There’s no surefire way to ensure your potential customers feel a connection to your brand. However, there are clear strategies you can use to develop an authentic, consistent brand. Using the example of a brewery, we offer a guide to initial branding and marketing for your new product or service.
Steps to Branding Your Business
Find Your Story
Marketing is form of storytelling. A customer’s eventual loyalty to a product, service or brand depends largely on factors such as quality and dependability. However, the initial choice of your brand over others is a leap of faith. To convince customers to take a chance on your brand, you need to communicate a message that will resonate with them. How? With a love story.
You’ll need to sit down, do some serious soul searching and write down the love story between you and beer (or whatever your product or service may be). Consider the following questions:
- When did this love begin?
- What is it about beer and beer culture do you admire?
- Why is beer important in your life?
- What are your favorite things about beer culture?
- Where are your favorite places to be with beer?
- Where do you see yourself and beer in 10 years?
These questions are just a jumping off point. Feel free to go wild and write some sonnets about your favorite sour. When you’ve exhausted your pen, go back and see what you came up with. You might find that you love beer because of the community it can draw together. Or maybe it’s the chemistry behind the process. Maybe beer is important in your life because you grew up next to a hop farm in rural Idaho, and ever since, the brilliant green of ripe hops has been the accent color in your house.
What will emerge from this process is a story. This story will guide your product development and your branding plan. Pay particular attention to the parts of the story that set it apart from the other breweries that are popping up all over the country. What is different about your journey? What things make your love unique? When you find these gems, capitalize on them and repeat them in your values, image, and communication plan.
Identify Your Values
Now it’s time to really get down to the foundation of what this brewery is going to be. Go back to your story and pick out some of the values that emerged. Let’s say you realize that innovation in the brewing process is important to you. Or maybe you feel like the beer industry as a whole has neglected to pay attention to its environmental impact. These passions should be reflected in every aspect of your business and will be the core of your brand.
So how exactly do you reflect these values in all of your choices? If innovation is your primary value, you’ll need to highlight the actions you do that support this value. This often means bringing something “behind the scenes” to the forefront. Say you’re using a unique brewing process—focus on finding a way to communicate this to your customer. For instance, you could focus on language (“brewed with X technology!”) or use a representation of the brewing machinery in your label or logo.
You’ll want this same message to extend through to everything you make or do. Consistency builds authenticity. So, if your value is the environment, and you serve beer at outdoor events in plastic cups, you’ll lose your authenticity—and your customers.
Identify Your Target Clients and Crew
Once you’ve figured out what you stand for, think about the kind of clientele you want to attract. Your values will give you authenticity and a general market (such as people who also value the environment), but you’ll need to narrow that down with an audience analysis. Try to imagine your target client, and ask yourself the following:
- Who do you want to come try your beer?
- Who are the beer drinkers in your neighborhood? What do they drink? Where do they go to drink?
- What do those people want to experience when they’re drinking beer?
- What needs do these drinkers have that aren’t being met?
Explore what is trending with your target demographic and what may be hot in the future. While you’re catering to your target audience, make sure your branding plan is not too niche, lest you scare off the newbies.
Next, consider who you invite to your team. Your people should reflect your values, particularly the people in customer-facing positions. Have a brewpub-style brewery? If your hostess is wearing a fur jacket and you’re very proud of your vegan menu options, you’ll again lose the consistency of an authentic message. Hand pick your team and let them share in the enthusiasm of promoting your value-based brewery.
Maintain a Consistent Theme
When you’re creating the world that your customers will actually be doing their beer-drinking in, make design choices that reflect your story and values. Mixed messages will kill your vibe and destroy your authenticity. (See a theme here?)
Keep these fundamental tenets in mind when you make decisions concerning images, typography, packaging, colors, flooring, décor, events, menu organization, etc. You can probably see how this could become exhausting. With every decision you make, ask yourself how it supports your story and your values. At this point, consider shelling out the skrill for a graphic designer or a team or professionals to help keep your themes congruent and tight. Your customers can choose from a lot of breweries. Make sure yours is an experience in consistency.
Get Your Brand in Hand
Nothing wins the hearts and minds of your customers like free stuff. When you give away branded products—from T-shirts to stickers—you’re essentially getting people to advertise for you. And when customers choose, of their own free will, to represent your brand by wearing your gear or displaying your logo, they’re really giving a recommendation that people will respond to. Next time you see one of those Yakima cargo boxes sitting on top of some outdoor adventure wagon, take a close look; it’s probably covered in stickers that represent the important places, products, and causes that the driver is proudly displaying like boy scout badges. Don’t forget to put that sticker on your own car, and wear that shirt around town yourself.
This is the final act of your branding plan. If you can convince your customers to stand for you, they will always stand with you. Get to know them, give them free stuff, listen to their concerns, and share your love story about the thing that brought you here in the first place: Beer.
Ready to start your business?
Once your branding plan’s in place, it’s time to figure out all those other business details. We can help. We offer business formation and registered agent services in every state, as well as wide variety of other services, from annual report filings to free business forms.