When starting a business, establishing your business identity is one of the most important things you can do. It’s the image you’ll promote to every future customer, the direction you want to take your business in and the beginning of your brand, so it’s something that requires a lot of thought and attention.
Once you’ve got your business idea, you need to be clear on what you want to achieve, how you’re going to do it and who you’re going to target. Having a well-thought out business plan is crucial at this stage as this will act as the foundation from which your business identity will grow.
You need to be clear on the message you want to convey to your customers and ensure that this is shown through everything, from your business name to your customer service. Deciding on the design of your logo, your business name and other such creative aspects, while it may be fun, you need to ensure you keep in mind the image you want to create and ensuring consistency throughout your brand.
The next step is to create your website, which you should think of as your shop window. This again should keep in line with your business identity and display clearly the aim of your business and be easy to use – i.e. if you’re selling a set of products, advertise this clearly and make your products easy to purchase or if you’re advertising a service, show this clearly and make it easy to access. This may seem obvious, but there are many sites out there don’t and lose business because of it!
One crucial thing to remember with your online business is that any website visitors and potential customers need to be assured that your site is trustworthy and legitimate. It is easy for website visitors to be deterred from purchasing because they can’t navigate the website well or they don’t believe the website to be trustworthy. One of the best ways to assure people of this is to provide contact details so that they can have a direct line to you if needs be. Remember, people buy from people, so the more personable and accessible your website and business is, the more likely it is that customers will trust in and give you their business.
Business Phone Number
If you want to keep your business local, ensure you provide a local telephone number for your customers to use. This could be your current landline number or you could connect a virtual geographic number for your chosen area which allows you to operate both numbers at once, whilst keeping your personal number just that. If you’re looking to operate nationally, connecting a non-geographic number will allow you to show your customers you can serve them regardless of where they are in the UK. There’s more information about the numbers available here.
As well as providing the traditional contact methods, you should also look in to setting up social media so that customers can contact you this way and so that you can interact with your target audience. Instead of spreading yourself too thinly across all the available social networks, do a little research as to the ones that your target customer base use most often and focus on these. Social networking is a great free marketing tool to raise awareness of a brand, so remember to keep the way you interact in line with your chosen identity.
Illustration: Mitch Blunt