By Nina Rydalch
For Eastern Idaho Business Report
Whether starting a business, changing the branding of a company or simply strengthening a corporate message, it is important to know how to build a brand and attract consumers.
A good idea and in-demand product are a start, but without proper marketing, it’s not enough, said Brett Parson, owner of Direction Marketing and Design. Parson said the first step for a business owner should be to figure out who they are and hone in on what they want to offer and who they want to offer it to.
“I see a lot of companies today, they try to offer everything to everyone,” he said. “And generally, that doesn’t go off as well as really focusing in and figuring out, ‘Well, this is who I am as a company, and this is what we offer to these people.’”
Parson said that “who you are” concept should drive all marketing decisions, including logo and website creation.
Jennifer Jones, co-owner of Idaho Escape Rooms and Pop’s Ice Cream, said the logo and name of a business can have a significant impact on how well it performs.
Jones said she and her husband originally opened Exodus Escape Rooms in 2016, but four months after opening found a name conflict and changed the name to Idaho Escape Rooms. She said that one-word shift led to an increase in business.
“Just because of the search results and because it associates us more closely with the city that we’re in, I think that helped us the most,” Jones said.
She said that kind of searchability is an important part of being visible and becoming recognizable. Additionally, having an online presence is an integral part of marketing in the 21st century, Parson said.
“If you don’t have a website, potential customers wonder what’s wrong,” he said. “They just assume you will have a website.”
He said even then, the website alone is often not enough. Because of search algorithms, the website may not come up without online marketing.
“It’s the combo, you have to have a website, but if you have a website, you have to drive people to it through online marketing,” Parson said. “Otherwise it’s ineffective.”
Jones said for Idaho Escape Rooms, another important part of building a consumer base was education about what escape rooms are. Other businesses providing new, unique products to the area could benefit from explaining what it is they are offering, she said. For more well-known products, it might not be as important, she said.
“As far as building a brand and recognition, with escape rooms it was a little more difficult, because we had to educate people on what that business was and what we did,” Jones said. “Ice cream, obviously, people already know what that is.”
Once a business is established, various forms of advertising, word of mouth and a social media presence can all impact the visibility of a brand, Parson said.
For Melaleuca, word of mouth has played the biggest part in building brand awareness, said Frank Vandersloot, the company’s CEO. Vandersloot’s company operates by having marketing executives refer potential customers to the company’s products.
Vandersloot said rather than buy public advertising for the company, that money goes to people who become knowledgeable about a product and can then tell others about it.
“Happy customers have made our brand,” Vandersloot said.
Vandersloot and Parson agree that before starting a business or selling a product, it is good to already have a name and logo in place.
“I think that every business first has to have a logo and a brand,” Parson said. “And I am going to quote a famous quote I’ve heard so many times in life, but it says, ‘A business without a sign is a sign of no business.’ So they have to have that logo and brand in place — the visual part.”
Ultimately, Jones said business owners should evaluate what they have the ability to do, and look at hiring others to help with what they cannot do.
“I think it’s important for a business to recognize that not one person can do everything.” Jones said. “And to recognize where their weaknesses are and to get consultation or help where those weaknesses are.”