Branding Your Equestrian Business
You don’t have to be the Coca Cola’s of this world to reap the benefits of having a recognisable brand in your particular market. We all know who won the branding war between Coca Cola and Pepsi and who took the larger percentage of the market – so why not consider how you can do the same with your competitors – regardless of how small a chunk of the available market you are targeting - make sure you get the lions share.
If you’re a livery yard, how can you make your business stand out among all the other livery yards in your area? If you’re a service provider, what is your unique selling proposition (USP) or if you have a product, why should people want it? Regardless of your area of business, let your brand be the one that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue when people think about your market.
So what is your Brand? Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos once said, "Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room". Of course, you'll never be able to control what people say about you behind your back, but there are steps you can take to enhance their perception of your business.
Unlike large enterprises, most of us lack a marketing budget to persuade clients and customers to see us as we want to be seen. Most of us are "on the quiet side" when it comes to trumpeting our successes and talents, a too-humble trait that makes branding a bit of a challenge.
Below is a list of things you must consider when trying to develop your Brand, and adhering to these basic principles will eventually build the reputation you want.
First impressions last
Without trying to bore you, scientific evidence can even back this statement up. For example, in a particular experiment people were shown a number of websites for just a split second. Based on what they saw in those split seconds they were asked to note down which sites they would like to explore further. The number of 'good-looking' sites that came out on top was overwhelming.
Next they were given the opportunity to spend a whole 10 minutes looking at each website again and were asked to make a choice as to which company they would most likely end up working with. Interestingly, most of them went with their initial split second choice, even when the information, services or products being offered were not as good as the other ‘less-good-looking’ websites. This is called the Halo effect. Simply speaking, human nature dictates that people don’t like being wrong and will often substantiate their first decision or impression by focusing on the positives and even overriding or blocking out any negative points.
But that’s not enough!
It is very important to differentiate between a brand that just looks very good and a brand that looks like it can deliver what it promises. And it’s the latter that you should really focus on.
In short, your brand image should be based on what your customer expects or wants to see and not necessarily what you would like to see. Your brand should not convey your own personal feelings or likes but should speak to your market in a way that they like to be spoken to.
It’s also very important that you think beyond the actual services / products you’re offering and think about the emotion your clients are buying into. For example, if you’re in the livery business your customers aren’t just renting a stable from you, they’re renting trust, reliability, knowledge above all else. This may sound pretty obvious but it’s surprising how many businesses have not applied this kind of thinking to their company’s image.
What are your Brand values
Creating a predefined set of values is extremely important in getting your brand to work. It informs your clients of the way things are done in your business and creates a uniform platform from which everyone in the business can do their job. Decide which values apply first and foremost to your business. i.e. integrity, easy going, friendly, high standards, pride, etc. and then work them into three or four separate sentences. These should instantly be able to convey to your clients how you operate and what they can expect from a working relationship.
Encapsulating your entire business offering into a single, short line can be quite a difficult process and may take some time but once you’ve cracked it it’ll do absolute wonders for the brand. Cheesy as some of them may be, I could rattle off 10 different strap lines of big brands and guaranteed you’ll know who they are instantly. So not only is it one of the quickest ways to inform customers about what you do or what you stand for but more importantly it will make them remember the brand. For Dark Horse my strapline hopefully conveys my desire to give your equestrian business ‘The Power To Make Your Equestrian Businesses The Best It Can Be'
Always aim to highlight the benefits that your products/services can offer clients and put them on the forefront of any marketing activity - whether that's on your website, your social media, advertising campaigns etc.. If you get it right it will show potential customers why they should use YOU above all others.
And most importantly is Consistency
It’s vital that customers have the same experience every single time they interact with your business. This ensures a consistent and reliable business experience meaning customers will always know what to expect from you. You are creating an important trust between you and your clients and will ultimately make them feel comfortable enough to recommend you to others. Lose this trust and you have a problem that will take a long time to recover from.
For more advice on branding or rebranding your business get in touch with Dark Horse Equine Business & Marketing and start the process of making your business the Coca Cola of the equestrian world!