November 19, 2012
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One of the biggest challenges every entrepreneur will face is building a brand.
Your goal is to set your company and brand apart from the crowd. If you form a branding strategy without conducting research, your brand will barely make a blip on your consumer’s radar. Given the fast pace that industries move at today, brands are easily forgotten and most brands are hard to remember in the first place.
Branding is a challenge that inevitably you’ll spend years perfecting. Don’t be scared to try new things, but remember to shape your brand based on the vision of your company and initial successes that have defined your brand.
When HootSuite was first branded as a premier social media management tool for small businesses and multi-national enterprises, our focus was on four specific high-level areas — pillars that, over the past several years, have helped us build HootSuite from a startup to a successful international company:
A solid product offering is vital to the success of your brand.
If your product amazes customers, and is revolutionary and bulletproof, customers will evangelize for you. If your product offering is still in its early stages, customers will be the ones to help you innovate and grow by offering essential feedback.
Social media is a great way to gather unbiased feedback. Use tools to monitor brand mentions, messages, blog posts, and even misspellings of your brand name.
Not all customer feedback will be positive. But take the negative feedback and use it to your advantage. You’ll learn more from what people don’t like about your product than from what they do like about it. Develop an online support system that gives your consumers a place to vent and use it as an incubation center for ideas and future product developments.
Your small business is a part of a community, whether you realize it or not.
It’s important to embrace your community and thoughtfully engage within it as a community leader. By creating insightful content people want to read or share and speaking at industry engagements, you can shape your personal brand within your community.
In the early stages of business development, your team is often your biggest source for recruiting top talent. New hires represent your brand within your community. They can become the foundation your company is built upon.
However, establishing a team that represents both you and your brand doesn’t happen overnight. You want to create a company culture where everyone can work toward a common goal. It helps to cultivate a connected company culture that attracts like-minded talent. From an industry perspective it also shows that your company is capable of developing its own social system and recruiting strategies.
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