This is an important question, and if you are like many small business owners, the answer is ‘No’. Unfortunately, many people are aware of the sad fact that their brand is simply not as strong as it should be, but they don’t know where to start in identifying and fixing the problems. Here are a few questions that will help you see where your brand stands.
- Is your brand geared toward your customers? Maybe you love your logo design, products, service, and everything about your small business, but you are not the one who matters. Identify what aspects of your brand your customers will love and what aspects they might not like so much. This will help you to take steps that maximize the positive elements and eliminate the negative ones.
- Is your brand different from all others? There should be a clear and obvious reason to choose you over your competition. Maybe it is your prices or service; maybe it is a unique product or the fact that you are the only local choice. Whatever your advantage is, make it a key part of your branding and make sure all marketing focuses on it. If you can’t explain why you are a different and better choice, your customers probably can’t either.
- Is your brand in a growing industry? Don’t stay on a sinking ship; instead, fix the problems and steer into more friendly waters. For best results, your industry should be growing by leaps and bounds. Sure, there are ups and downs due to the economy and outside factors. However, you absolutely must be in a growing industry; anything else is small business suicide. If your industry is not rising on the whole, identify new products, services, and directions that can take you onto a path of growth.
- How are the numbers? We all hate paperwork, but (to return to our ship metaphor) you can’t steer your business in the right direction if you have no idea where you are or where you are headed. Are you gaining market share consistently? Is your business getting consistent cash flow? Are your profits increasing? How are your profit margins? These elements paint a very accurate (and sometimes startling) picture of your small business brand.
- Are you positioned for growth? Don’t let a big break sneak up on you, or it just might pass you by. Instead, actively look for opportunities to grow and make a plan for how you will maximize them. No business can afford to stay stagnant, so include growth as part of your long-term plan. If you are not positioned for growth, both in the short and long terms, failure is inevitable. Luckily, you probably still have time to rectify the situation.
Many small businesses fail, and sometimes this is simply inevitable. However, too many fail for a lack of thoughtful evaluation and planning. Answering these questions honestly should give you an idea of where your brand is weak and how you can make the changes that will lead you to success.