Will You Develop a Local, Regional, or National Brand?
When we think of recognizable brands, our first instinct is to consider billion-dollar companies like Apple, Amazon, and Coca-Cola. In other words, global brands that are household names. In reality, most business owners and marketing leaders aren't angling for an international brand... at least not right away! Instead, we look to the areas in which our target buyers gather, which tends to be closer to home. The potential for national recognition is attractive, but most brands are built step-by-step, expanding into new regions as and when they're ready.
This is especially true in parts of the country where competing markets can be defined by geographical factors like state lines and city limits. For SMB owners, the question becomes whether to stick to hyperlocal recognition or develop a regional brand that stretches further still.
How Far Should Your Brand Stretch?
Our VP of Business Development Paul Faust recently wrote a piece for business leaders in Birmingham, Alabama, explaining various aspects of a standout brand. For this area, the challenge comes from neighboring cities that seem to be recovering more quickly than Birmingham, at least in terms of the local economy. In this scenario, limiting your business to a local brand fails to address two important considerations:
- It overlooks potential customers in markets with more buying power.
- It limits benchmarking to other local companies, rather than more successful brands in more lucrative markets.
This isn't to say that you can't build a local brand that stands out. Achieving this provides a foundation for expansion. That being said, the drive should always be there to develop a regional brand that's recognizable and competitive in markets beyond your immediate area. If you're a major name in Birmingham, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to translate the unique qualities that got you there to nearby markets like Charlotte and Nashville. The key is to compare and confirm the regional markets you choose to enter next. Look at the target audience in your next regional location: how much do the buyers there differ from those in your local market? If they're close enough in the key attributes that define your existing customers, it's likely that your brand will be a natural fit. Another important aspect of developing a regional brand reputation is to benchmark yourself against the new competition. These are likely to be established brands that you can learn from, adding things that you don't currently offer and learning from mistakes these competitors have made along the way.
In short, if your business has already managed to build a renowned name in your local area, this is a good time to create a strategy that develops your regional brand. Even if you still have some work to do on your local reputation, it's worth keeping one eye on how that will translate to the next marketplace. Get the strategy and brand assets in place ahead of time so that you can focus entirely on execution when the time is right!
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