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At the start of each year, entrepreneurs often set New Year’s Resolutions for themselves without spending any time focused on designing a strategy for the success of their business in the upcoming year. By failing to do so, these business leaders are missing out on an important opportunity to strengthen the foundation for the success of their business in the upcoming year.
If you want to grow your business in 2023, consider investing some time and energy in intentionally designing a plan to enhance the strategic brand for your business.
Defining strategic branding
New business owners often mistake branding as simply a logo, color palette and slogan.
Experienced business owners know better.
Brand — with a capital “B” — encompasses a company’s overall image and reputation and often consists of the tangible and intangible reasons why potential customers choose to do business with your company.
Strategic branding is the intentional decisions the leaders of a business make to ensure their business stands out in a crowded marketplace. These decisions help understand, build and maintain strong relationships with their customers.
An effective strategic brand is essential for any business to succeed in the long run. A strong brand identity helps to differentiate your business from competitors, build customer trust and increase customer loyalty. Creating a successful strategic brand requires a clear vision of what you want your business to be and how you want it to be perceived by customers.
Building a strategic brand
The first step to creating a strategic brand is thinking about the “why” behind the business’s existence. This “why” comprises three elements.
First, entrepreneurs should reflect on their business’s purpose: why does it exist? Consider responding to this question in the context of the business’s solutions to its customers. For example, a health foods store may define its purpose as “empowering people to live healthier lives by providing organic food and eco-friendly products at a price they can afford.”
Second, entrepreneurs should define a mission for their business: what the business seeks to achieve in the immediate future. Responses to this question could include expressing the experience, products, services and value customers can expect to receive from the business today. For example, the same health foods store could adopt the mission statement: “We provide our customers with affordable organic and eco-friendly products while promoting health and wellness education to foster a community of conscious consumers committed to sustainable living.”
Lastly, entrepreneurs should articulate a vision for the business: the long-term aspirations that the business is looking to achieve. One way to answer this question is to think about where the company wants to go and what it wants to be known for. A potential vision statement for the health food store may be, “We are committed to creating a world where access to organic food and eco-friendly products is available to all and where wellness education is the norm, which leads to healthier and happier communities.”
Themes foundational to a strategic brand
When answering these questions, you will find emerging themes integral to a strategic brand.
First, if your business is solving problems for customers, spend some time describing who these customers are and what problems they are facing. This description will help guide your marketing and pricing decisions. For example, a health food store in New York will have a different definition of affordability than a health food store in a small rural town.
Second, decisions regarding your business’s purpose, mission and vision will often be made based on the principles or beliefs most important to you. These principles or beliefs may be the core values of your business, the foundation of how your company makes decisions when interacting with staff, customers and stakeholders and integral to your company’s culture. For example, the core values for the health food store described above could be “eco-conscious,” “affordable,” and “community-oriented.”
While answering these questions can be simple, the truth is these questions are only a starting point. An effective strategic brand often requires a more complex response that develops over time. Consider creating an answer to these questions in collaboration with your business advisors and mentors, or alternatively, prepare your strategic brand with the help of a paid consultant.
Whether you build a strategic brand for your business alone or in conjunction with your advisors, such efforts are vital to increasing the visibility and credibility of your business in the marketplace and strengthening relationships with your customers.
Take the time to plan how to develop a strong brand for your business so that your business is better prepared to succeed in 2023.