I am a huge fan of working with entrepreneurs. I’m one myself. In fact, some close friends might venture to say that I’m a serial entrepreneur, but that’s a totally different story. I often wonder what goes through people’s mind when they make the decision to venture out on their own. Is being a business owner something that they always envisioned for themselves or were they forced into the role as a result of not being able to secure a position within a company?
Regardless of how a person transitions into entrepreneurship, they need to understand that starting a business is more than just selling a product or a service. It’s about seeing the big picture and about developing a brand around the product or service. They need to develop a brand blueprint. Just as an architect needs a blueprint and has to lay the foundation to build a house, as entrepreneurs we need a similar process and foundation. This article covers three elements that need to be considered as part of the brand blueprint.
Develop your brand Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
The concept of the USP is used by thousands of marketers to develop benefit messages used in advertising, branding and promotional materials. The marketing statement that describes your uniqueness or point of difference, in terms of the major benefit that your customer will derive, is called a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP.
Your unique selling proposition is a benefit statement you create that is unique to your products or service that is important to the consumer. In essence, the USP becomes a promise that your customers, clients or prospects will received this unique benefit by only using your product or service. In some cases, USP is also referred to as a brand promise.
In a nutshell, the concept of the USP is to create a ‘pick-up’ line that will have your customers favouring you over your competition.
Your USP defines who you are, and what you do…in relation to the benefits your clients receive when using your products or services. Creating your own USP enables you to define for the consumer your image and positioning, relative to the competition.
Create a Brand Personality
Your brand has a personality. Just as every person has a personality, so does your product or service whether you or the public realizes it. Think about that for a moment. What is your personality type?
Part of creating a brand also involves creating your brand personality attributes. Brand attributes are human characteristics that can be associated with the brand. The brand personality is what the consumer identifies with. The closer you can get your brand personality to that of your target audience, the easier it is going to be to sell to them.
Virgin Atlantic Airlines conveys an energetic, aggressive, passionate personality. When you think about it, the Virgin brand is similar in personality to its founder, Richard Branson. Apple is recognized by its brand personality attributes — innovative, stylish, hip, casual, and free & easy.
Consider what human attributes can be associated with your brand so that consumers can easily align themselves with your goods and services.
Determine your brand positioning
In crowded markets it is very important to position your product appropriately. Differentiating yourself is an important element in establishing your positioning. If you are starting a new product or service, you need not reinvent the wheel. The key is to find out how you can improve upon an existing wheel.
The best way to determine the positioning for your brand is to look what the competition is offering in the marketplace. What is the quality of their product or service? Where do they stand in the market in terms of price? What is their level of customer service? What are their hours of operation? Once you’ve identified what the competition is doing, look for that hole in the market which currently isn’t being served by the completion.
In the late 1990’s I operated a ladies boutique in Singapore shopping mall that was in between two major hotels. The stores in the mall did not open for business until 11:00am. Each day I observed a number of tourists walking around the mall aimlessly in the early morning hours looking for some place to go or something to purchase.
To accommodate these potential shoppers I changed my hours of operation from 11am to 9pm to 10:00 am to 8pm. I had identified a hole in the market and then simply made it convenient for my customers to shop by shifting my hours of operation by one hour. Needless to say, I did a lot of business between 10am and 11am.
Take a look at your competitors. What can you learn from them that will allow you to position yourself differently that are a plus for the consumer? Tweak one or two things and do them better than your competition to establish your positioning in the marketplace.
Creating a simple brand blueprint for your new product or service will put you well ahead of the person who starts a business and then simply opens their door for business.