What are brand pillars?

Most of us can list off a number of brand names off the top of our head, whether they’re world-famous companies or the local coffee chain in your city. Brands are everywhere, within every industry. A brand represents the emotional and logical associations that you make with a certain company, product or service. The interesting thing about branding is that it reflects internal and personal interpretations, which may differ between people and cultures.

We should mention here that branding doesn’t only mean visual things like a logo or company colours. Those things are part of branding, but there’s more that goes into it. Creating brand pillars is one way to design a brand for your small business that customers will react to positively.

What are brand pillars?

Brand pillars are the most important values and characteristics of your small business that you want to communicate to your audience. Your small business can have as many brand pillars as you like, but you should focus on the ones most important to your business’ image and values – for example, “Affordability” may be more important to your business than “Community Involvement.” But don’t worry – deciding not to include “Community Involvement” doesn’t mean you don’t care about the community your small business operates in! It just means that it’s less critical to your image than other brand pillars.

When planning your small business’ marketing strategy, identify your brand pillars very early in the process, and empower all your employees to use them to guide their customer interactions. You don’t have to expressly outline your brand pillars word-for-word in your marketing, but let them shine through in every part of your business. If one of your brand pillars is “Relaxed,” for example, you might choose minimalist packaging, or use casual and conversational language in all your communication.

Relying on your brand pillars will help you build consistency in your brand without having to scramble or reinvent the wheel every time. Take the time to narrow down the most important characteristics that’ll set your small business apart in the mind of your customer.

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3 ways to set your small business apart

Many Canadian entrepreneurs tell us that differentiating themselves from their competition is one of their main struggles. But the good news is: it doesn’t have to be painful! Try these 3 tips to help your small business stand out from your competitors.

1) Identify a specific niche

Understanding your business’ overall industry is important, since it’s home to many factors that can influence your business decisions. However, “niching down” even further is a great way to help your business find its differentiating characteristics. For example, your flower shop may be one of dozens of flower shops in your city. But what if customers knew that you were the only florist in town to source its flowers and plants from local growers? This is an immediate differentiating factor, and one that’ll help you stand out from the competition.

2) Ask your existing customers for their perspective

Your happy and loyal customers return to your business because they know and trust you. Asking them for their feedback could be a great way to help you stand out from the competition. The way you do this depends on your customer base. It could be an informal chat with your regulars, or a more traditional customer feedback survey – try a modified version of our quick eight-part customer survey. You may be surprised at the specific things your customers identify as your differentiating factors.

3) Consider a business pivot

A core component of the lean start-up methodology, pivoting is a useful way to iterate quickly based on customer feedback. If your customers identify a different platform, new technology, a new product feature, or something else, that can help you stand out in a crowded market, do some research to see if it could help you stand out from the rest.

Want to learn more about things like identifying your industry, picking a niche, customer satisfaction, and lean start-up? Check out our industry-leading small business training video program for Canadians.

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brand trust

How to communicate brand trust through your marketing material

There are many things that are hard to communicate in ads because they can’t really be measured – the reason why your customers should trust you is one of those things.

Being able to communicate brand trust through your marketing material is very important. After all, you often get one shot to make an impression on your prospective customer or client, and you shouldn’t depend on getting a second chance to prove your trustworthiness.

Put it this way: according to a recent survey, 56% of consumers feel more loyal to brands that “get them” – so it’s important!

How do you communicate something as intangible as trust in your brand’s marketing materials?

One of our GoForth Experts, Rob Campbell, has some answers. Check out his advice for communicating trust in your marketing material here, and feel free to ask our experts any other business-related question you have – other entrepreneurs might love to hear the answer too!

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How to market your business with a limited budget

marketing on a limited budget

Whether you’re just starting your small business or are trying to keep money coming in the door during these difficult times, you’d probably love to not have to shell out the big bucks for marketing.

Luckily, GoForth’s CEO and Founder Leslie McGeough has some tips to help! As one of our GoForth Experts, she was asked how to generate awareness of a new business on a limited budget. A few of her top tips were:

  • Get creative with social media. For example, post a behind-the-scenes Instagram video, or do a Facebook Live Q&A.
  • Partner with related, complimentary businesses to offer bundled services.
  • Investigate influencer marketing.

Click here for more of Leslie’s list of affordable marketing ideas!

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