South Jersey Biz Magazine asked us to submit a few words on how to effectively brand your business. This is what we had to say:

Here’s a quick branding lesson: how your customers, your competitors, and the world at large feel about your business is the brand. Often it boils down to a few words like “The friendly yoga place” or “That bar with the not-so-nice waitstaff.” It’s these few words you’re trying to influence when we talk about branding. Though they’re short (and sometimes sting), they’re a powerful sum of the many factors that a well-branded business needs to constantly keep in focus. So, how do you get started?

1. Know thyself

We humans can easily spot a fake. If your business isn’t cool, don’t try to be. Don’t pretend to be the smartest brand on the block because you think that’s what people want. Find out what is uniquely you and build around it. Brutal honesty is best.

2. Know the ideal

While you can’t fake something you’re not, you can get better in areas where the market wants you to be. So, if you’re the surly bar, hire better people and train them (some people actually don’t know how to be nice, but they can learn!).

3. Know your competitors

True, you should focus on being the best you can be for your customers, but it never hurts to know where you are in relation to others in your field. If you find an underserved segment of the market, serve it.

4. Know your customers

This is where the branding magic happens. Talk to your best and most ideal customers and figure out exactly what they need – and align your identity and business model to that need. Don’t assume you know what they want. Branding is about listening and adapting. The more you’re able to hear what people want from you, the better you’ll be able to position your business.

5. Know it’s never over

Actually, this is where the branding magic happens. Branding isn’t something to check off the list when you get a new logo, tagline, or website. Branding is taming an evolving, complex beast today and doing it again tomorrow. Branding is doing what’s best for your customers. Branding is empathy. And it’s hard. But this is why you got into business in the first place. So, when you wake-up tomorrow, ask yourself this question: what is one thing we can do better? Then, go do it.