How to build a brand for your business that stands out?
About 9 months ago, I was offered the role of business development manager at a fledgling company. The goal was to take the spaces in high street restaurants which were underused during the day and transform them into co-working spaces. Now, the company in mention has been open to the public for a month and is creating a new work environment across some of London’s most exclusive hotels. So, how did I build Spacemize’s brand from scratch and how can you develop a business narrative that stands out?
Create a visual brand with a character
Spacemize aims to revolutionise co-working. The business model is still rather new and the flexible office market is crowded, so to differentiate Spacemize’s offering I had to build its personality and character as though the company were a real person.
Your company’s brand is a lot more than its logo and promotional material. It is how your business is projected to the world and what values it stands for. What is your unique selling point? What is the message you would like your company to send across? What should your brand mean to your audience? Can it be recognised as something specific? The more targeted your brand’s character is, the more likely it is to start having people associate your company with a certain concept. For example, for Spacemize it is luxury-hotel-coworking with targeted business networking events. As Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, put it, "Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room".
Know your audience
How can you create a product people love without knowing who it’s meant to serve? You can’t. Before you start building upon your client offering, you must understand who your client is. What is the daily struggle you are solving for people? Find your product’s market before trying to scale. How do you know whether you’ve discovered your audience? Run a survey and ask them. How many of your clients would feel very disappointed without your product? If it is about 40% of them, you are on the right track.
Build a community
I’ll have to quote one of Airbnb’s early investors Paul Graham, "It’s better to have 100 people who love you than a million who just sort of like you. Build your business one person at a time. Just focus on 100 people. If they love you, they will market the product for you and tell everyone else."
Once you’ve discovered your audience, you must create something that adds value to their lives. Spacemize’s service isn’t just valuable in its own right, it also provides a means to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and like-minded entrepreneurs, so in this way we can build a community around it. Rather than rest on our laurels, however, we’re always seeking to expand our networks further, hence why we set up two event series, one for established business owners and one for early entrepreneurs. This way our community both expands and grows closer together over time.
Generate your own PR
Many new businesses spend a lot of money on external PR agencies which promise brand recognition and exposure. But who knows your brand better than you do? Develop your own narrative and work on your story. Why should people know about your product? Now that you know your audience, you should be able to relate your press releases to them. Build upon the bigger picture and be aware of the current market climate. For example, with one press release, I managed to get Spacemize’s launch covered by over 10 media outlets, including Forbes and Euronews.
Your immediate PR goal when launching a business should be long term brand establishment in a specific sector.
Create connections within the industry
If you want to establish your brand, you must do so within your target industry as well. Where would you like to gain recognition from? Find organisations who share a similar audience and connect to them at events, workshops and conferences. Organically build upon your brand and translate its message in person. It will help you to better understand what to work on to stand out. You will also find out the current problems SMEs in the same sector face and hopefully help you to adapt your approach if needed.
Tzvete Doncheva is the Head of Business Development at Spacemize, which she co-founded with University of Leicester School of Business alumni and SBC Management Board-member Saleem Arif.
Spacemize is presently offering 20% discounts on its daily and monthly services for alumni of SBC Award-holding schools; more information on monthly services can be found here and on daily services can be found here.