By Henry Brown
As the world of business becomes more and more ubiquitous with change, the more we all need to make sure that we are up to speed on the latest of trends, fashions, and tastes. And while each business seeks the trend it believes will give it an edge – whether that is digital software, finding the right server, or just streamlining processes – it is marketing that is the beast small business owners have to slay to get anywhere in the world. Marketing a business (especially a small one) makes you reach into the recesses of your resources.
The first thing to discuss when it comes to marketing is semiotics, which is the study of signs and symbols and is something you will learn about in any basic Media Studies course. It is an integral part of developing your brand and is part of the trifecta of your brand, your image (a notable difference), and your voice.
The signs and symbols your business communicates through its advertising and marketing campaigns will communicate certain messages, so you need to be sure you are communicating the right ones. The breakdown of semiotics is in two parts, the signifier, which is the words on a piece of text, the object, the picture, anything that is being communicated. Then the signified is the receiver of the image, which in business is the customer or consumer. Having a basic grasp of semiotics will give you an understanding of what you will need to give your business representation or image a kick.
Semiotics falls firmly under the category of image. The second part of the trifecta is the brand. The brand of a business is what sets you apart from your contemporaries. This is arguably the longest road to total business realization because you need to understand what it is your business wants to communicate and what the business’ voice and personality are.
If you are looking at what it is about big businesses that makes them so successful, you only need to look at their brand. What is it about Apple? Is it the shiny I-pads and apps? No. It’s the fact that the name Apple is synonymous with progression and quality tech.
Identifying what your brand is means looking inward and pulling out the very thing that is at the core of your business, what products you sell and why you sell them. It is the nugget that everything will spring forth from, like your SEO marketing techniques, because it is easier to market yourself once you have a grasp on who your business is, not what! It requires a lot of soul-searching at the very start, and although it is easier for businesses that have not really begun, there have been big businesses that have made a big image shake-up too.
The voice is something that is quite possibly the most important part of identifying the best marketing tactics. The voice is the thing that you will carry through, from the inception to the very end. You have a passion for doing something, why do you want to sell these products? What is the story behind it all? Do you want to make people feel good about themselves? Do you feel that a certain product should be in every home? What is the crux of your whole existence as a company? And in doing this, you can find the story that you want to tell.
Much like a stand-up comedian or a writer spends years before it “clicks” and they found their true voice, the same applies in business. And it is all linked by one thing, passion. The ideas behind every single marketing campaign are boiled down to the heart behind it. This is what will make customers/clients/employees/anyone you’d care to mention feel something towards your business.
Find your image, brand, and voice and you will make a success of your business because your company’s name will be synonymous with products and/or services that people want as part of their lives.
Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.