When you think about "branding," you might think it's something that only big corporations need to worry about. In fact, every company — from Apple to your one-person business — needs to promote its brand. Here are six ways you can brand your solo business from the start.
- Think big. You may have heard of the concept of the "personal brand," or the way an individual brands themselves to be more marketable as an employee or a vendor. However, unless you want your one-person business to stay a one-person business, it makes more sense to develop a brand for your business — not just a personal brand. A strong business brand can grow with you as your business expands, so that every location of your business enjoys the same goodwill.
- Use your email signature to brand your business. In addition to the essentials—your name, business name (hyperlinked to your website) and phone number, think about other elements you can add to your email signature to create a memorable brand. For example, you might want to include your business logo or a thumbnail photo of yourself, icons linking to your social media pages, links to your blog or to a book you've written, a tagline or a call to action (such as “Learn More About Our Services”). Don't overdo it, however: It's best to keep your email signature to three or four lines, maximum.
- Always use a professional email address. Your email signature isn't the only element that can help brand your new business. Be sure that your emails come from a professional email address with a unique domain name for your business. Did you know 65% of consumers believe a company-branded email is more credible than a business using a free email account? It's no wonder people trust an email from Steve@SteveCo.com than from LilStevie259@hotmail.com. And with so many email-related phishing attacks and viruses out there, you need to earn your customers' trust before they'll even open your emails.
- Remember, you represent your business brand. Especially as a one-person business, you personify your company's brand. That means you should always look, act and engage with others in ways that enhance your brand, whether you’re in line at the grocery store or networking at a business event. Representing your brand starts with being well-groomed, friendly and polite, but it also means embodying the values of your business brand to the world. Suppose you have a personal training business focused on weight loss and fitness. If prospective customers see you out in public wolfing down donuts in between puffs on a cigarette, what kind of brand message is that sending?
- Tap the power of social media. Social media marketing works best when it has a one-on-one, personal touch — and as a one-person business, that's exactly what you have to offer. Because the time you can spend on social media is limited (after all, you've got a business to run), don't try to do it all. Instead, focus on one or two social media platforms that your target customers are most likely to use. (Facebook is a good starting point for just about any kind of business, since it's the single most popular social media site.) Use social media management tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite to help you schedule and manage your posts and engage with customers on social media.
- Be consistent. To cement your brand in prospects' and customers' minds, it's important to be consistent. For example, use the same logo, fonts, colors, etc. throughout all of your marketing materials, from your website and your business cards to your invoices and marketing emails. The more often people see the same visuals associated with your business, the better they'll remember your brand — and you.