Even if you're a solo entrepreneur, you want your customers to identify you as the "go-to" person in your field. That's what brand identity does: It helps differentiate you from the competition--it tells your customers, "This is who I am and what I stand for, and this is my approach to business."
But how do you, the small business owner, go about building your brand? Do you have to spend big bucks on an image consulting firm or a public relations company? The short answer is: no. What you basically have to do is figure out exactly what your core product or service is, and then decide what direction to go in order to achieve the maximum profit potential from it.
According to expert Vickie Sullivan ("http://www.sullivanspeaker.com"), you need to:
- Determine your business model (what do you do--what do you have to offer--what are your strengths?)
- Identify revenue streams (what are the different ways you can make money from your expertise)
- Establish your manifesto ("put your flag in the ground": This is what I do and this is my approach)
- Plan strategies for executing your business model
She calls this strategic planning "Marketing Intelligence"--plotting your course by looking at the marketplace to see which segment you should target to make the most money from what you do. After all, you deserve to make top dollar for your services, so it only makes sense to approach the customers who can afford to pay what you're worth, right?
This method emphasizes your approach rather than the tools you'll use to implement your plan. In other words, identifying the highest paying segment of your market will help you determine what product or service to offer, and what marketing methods you should use to reach that segment.
When you think about it, this is a great way to figure out how to build brand identity. You'll use only those marketing methods that target the kind of customers you want to sell to, and you can customize your "brand" using the tools best suited for attracting those particular people.
Marketing tools can include:
- The media (local, national, or international)
- A website
- Publications (books you've written, articles written about you)
- Promotional materials (company brochure, trade show giveaways, direct mail)
Regardless of the tools you use, your message, or signature style, will remain consistent--it's your platform, or brand identity, expressed in your slogan, logo, elevator speech, sales pitch, etc. When you develop your style that says: "This is who I am and this is my approach," you've established your brand identity.