Micro Oiseau | free marketing and translation guides for micro entrepreneurs and startups

#1 Be Noticed: How to build a great brand

As individuals we all have our own personal ‘brand’, our personality if you like, made up of:

How we appear and what we wear.
How we talk and what we say.
How we treat ourselves, other people and the things around us.

Our image, communication and behaviour affect our ability to influence others and it is the same for a business. It does not matter if that business has one, 10, or 10,000 employees, a brand is not simply a logo, a brand is everything about that business. Brand matters because it persuades people to buy.

It’s also a comforting thought that, along with micro entrepreneurs, the executives at Amazon, Chanel or Renault are also thinking …

Do we look good?

Do we sound good?

Do people understand what we are offering?

Are we attracting new customers and keeping loyal ones?

As a micro entrepreneur, you may be thinking, “I’ve already got a great personality and, I AM my business, so I am my brand. This is easy!” But there is one important difference between our personal brand and our business brand, and that is our customer.

Our customers are the people who are prepared to give us their money and trust in exchange for what we are offering.

For this reason, what our customers need and prefer is more important than what we prefer or think they should accept.

Our brand represents all aspects of our business, so we must listen to our potential customers for that brand to engage them. And not just listen, but also ask questions to ensure what we are offering is really what they want. When it is, not only will they buy, but they will return and tell their friends.

To begin thinking about our business brand the most important question to keep asking ourselves is ‘WHY?’: “Why am I setting up a business?” and “Why should customers choose me?”

The most successful businesses tap into the ‘sweet spot’.

The sweet spot is a meeting of minds between a business and their customers an alignment of image and perception; communication and understanding; behaviour and response.

Micro Oiseau: Be Noticed: how to build a great brand | Marketing Guides

This sweet spot is no happy accident. It is found through:

  1. Clearly understanding WHY we do what we do, WHAT exactly we offer, HOW we deliver it and the VALUES that underpin everything.
    And then:
  2. Clearly communicating that information to people who want what we offer, are attracted to our values and can, therefore, easily understand how we can solve their problems or make their lives easier, more fun, more beautiful or more productive.

To define your business values, we come back to WHY you are in business in the first place. Remember, being good at something is great, but not caring how you do it, or deliver it, will make attracting and keeping customers very hard. For example, if you make beautiful chairs, but you use illegally traded, unsustainable rainforest hardwoods, that is not going to attract people, quite the opposite.

WHY we do what we do may include one or all of the following:

  • Expertise
  • Passion
  • Quality and craftsmanship
  • Honesty and care
  • Difference
  • Belief
  • Sustainability

I once heard a micro entrepreneur say: “I can’t afford values.” In reality, you can’t afford NOT to have values.

Values are the roots of your business. Strong brands grow from their values up. When times are tough, going back to your values can save a business. A business with no values has nothing to save.

With similar values, a business and its customers can build a relationship based on trust and loyalty. It works BOTH ways.

Helping your brand stand out

The brands customers like most are those that offer something others do not. This may be value based and also lifestyle based. Whatever sector you are in, you will have competitors. People doing the same kind of business in the same area and, you may think, chasing the same customers.

But you would be wrong.

Yes, there will be many businesses similar to yours, BUT they won’t be exactly like yours and your opportunity is that they never will be, because you are unique and, therefore, so is your business.

The key is to identify what makes you unique and focus your expertise, values, artistry or knowledge through everything you do. Knowing this will also help you answer another important ‘why’ question, “Why would a customer choose me?” 

Micro Oiseau | How micro entrepreneurs could save the world

In 1998 in Taipei, Taiwan, a couple decided to open a café. There were plenty of other cafés in Taipei, thousands in fact. Now, this couple loved cats. They had five of them. They also knew people who were not able to have a pet, so they decided to try something different. They decided to create their café around their cats and share them with their customers.

The Kitten Coffee Garden was the very first ‘cat café’. The idea was an instant success and, after a café opened in Japan, the idea quickly spread around the world. The couple were not the first café, or the first café to have cats, but they were the first to put them at the heart of the service they offered. Their brand values were based around caring for animals and generosity to those less fortunate than themselves.

For a micro entrepreneur every personal quality you have counts, just as much as the service you are providing and how well you’re listening to your customers. All this will go into building your brand.

Your brand will also become more established if you can communicate it easily and professionally with a memorable name, an eye-catching logo and a professional website and marketing materials. Keep in mind:

  • Names work best when they are simple
  • Logos work best when they are professionally designed
  • Websites are great tools for supporting all sizes of business but only when they look good and work properly. Again, if you have little expertise, source professional help, you will save yourself time and headaches. The same goes for marketing materials. The key is always to keep it simple
  • Help your customers find you by being where they are looking. When you research your market and type of customer, find out how and where they shop, be that on the Internet, in newspapers and specialist magazines, a shop front or face-to-face appointments. Today, it is likely that you will need to have a presence in a few different places to make an impact

Top tips for creating a great brand:

  • Be clear on why you are creating your business and why your customer should choose you
  • Have a good name
  • Stand for something
  • Be consistent
  • Keep your promises
  • Make yourself easy to find
  • Be prepared to listen and learn

Finally, if you get something wrong (and we all do), apologise, learn, make changes and move on. We all make mistakes. It’s how we deal with them that will help ensure our brand success.

And, remember: fortune favours the brave!

There is an ancient quotation that says “There is nothing new under the sun.” but, there is and it’s you.
There has never been another ‘you’ and the world will not see your like again, so, it’s time to be yourself and become a successful micro entrepreneur with the right opportunities, plenty of hard work and some good advice!

Read the next in our series of free marketing guides:
“Be Valued: how to set the right price and sell”

Little guides. Big results.