Starting a horse business, as a hobby or full-time, can be as much fun as it is hard work.
Part of the appeal of starting a business is getting to build up a name and a brand. All of your efforts will be poured into your new brand, so you’ve got to make sure that it’s something you love and are proud of.
Branding is all about being recognisable and having a good reputation. So as you build your new brand, continually ask yourself these two questions:
– Will people remember my business?
– Will people feel positively about my business?
Recognition and positivity means returning customers and a thriving business.
Let’s look at the 5 steps it takes to build a great horse business brand.
1. Visual branding.
Often, when people think ‘branding’ they think of a company’s logo. It’s an important way to make your business recognisable.
A good brand does the following things:
– Means something to the customer.
A logo needs to ‘click’ with a customer – it needs to make sense. A customer should know what industry you’re in when they look at your logo.
– Means something to the business owner.
Sometimes a logo means something special to the business owner that isn’t obvious to consumers. The Apple logo, for example, represents the story of Isaac Newton discovering gravity. It has a connection for employees. Your own logo should have a special meaning to you that reminds you why you do what you do.
– Looks good.
This is an obvious one! You want people to feel positively when they see your logo. Make it look nice.
– Is easy to recognise.
Clients need to be able to distinguish between your logo and the logo of competitors. You can’t use a standard horse image. A good test is the ‘squint test’. If you can still recognise your logo when squinting, you’re doing it right!
Here are some really great examples of horse-related logos.
Websites are absolutely necessary. Even if you find a client face-to-face, they’ll use the internet as a reference for your business. Need to find a number? Check out your website. Need to know when you’re available? Check out your website.
A website needs to include these things (and they need to be clearly visible) :
When people look you up, they want to know how much you charge. Even if you can’t give an exact figure, you need to offer an estimate. When they call, you can clarify further.
– Your location.
It’s also worth registering your business with Google My Business.
– Your contact details.
3. Word of mouth.
Horse communities are usually very tight-knit. That means word-of-mouth is really important and will help you get loyal customers.
Generating good word of mouth comes down to going the extra mile. Make sure that everyone who engages with you (clients, suppliers, peers), feels great about having met you and interacted with you. Be generous and kind.
4. Build your reputation.
Your value as a business comes down to your reputation. A brand is a reminder of that reputation. If you have any awards or qualifications, if you’ve achieved any milestones, that can be a great start for building your brand. People want to know they’re getting quality.
This also means that everything you do affects your reputation. Make sure that you protect it well.
This is a really important part of branding that a lot of people overlook.
After an interaction with a client, it’s a good idea to leave them with something special and nice. If you’ve taken a student through a course, give them a framed certificate, for example. Anything you can leave behind that reminds people of your business will be worth the investment.
Imagine you’ve spent a year studying with a horse riding instructor and have decided to take a year off riding. When you get home, some hand-made muffins are left for you with a note thanking you for being such a great student. When you return to riding in a year, you’ll remember those muffins.
They’re some of the important basics to branding. Invest in your brand; it is the value of your entire business. Love it, and make it loved.