Successful brands leave a strong impression that sticks with the target audience. They stand out as an authority in their field, run consistent marketing campaigns and excel in areas their competitors do not. 

According to the Small Business Administration, around 32.5 million small businesses currently 
exist in the U.S. Each year, new businesses start, while others fail. What is the secret ingredient that makes some brands excel and others flounder?

When you look at the top brands that remain profitable year after year, you find some common characteristics they share. Here are the main things successful brands do that you can repeat.

1. Find Unique Qualities

The unique value proposition (UVP) of your business is the thing you do better than anyone else in your industry. However, the UVP must be something that matters to your customers. You might have the most paid time off for your employees, but your customers may not care about that aspect.

Instead, your clients will care that you have the best customer service because your employees have great work/life balance. Think about your UVP through the eyes of your audience. How does your brand solve a problem for the buyer or make their lives better?

2. Brand Everything

Put your name and logo on everything you can. The more people see your image, the more likely they are to remember it. Brands such as Nike and McDonald’s use pretty simple logos, such as a swoosh and golden arches. However, everyone recognizes them, because the logos appear so frequently.

You can even grab attention via the packages you use to send out orders. For example, companies that use bright colors, stand out from the competition and leave an impression on anyone who comes in contact with the box.

3. Find Your Passion

People start businesses for many different reasons. Sometimes you just need a way to make money and go with the idea no one else is doing but where there is a need. However, if you don’t find a reason for doing what you do, your business may eventually fall flat.

If you want to truly succeed, you must feel passionate about your brand. Develop a sense of pride in your employees so they are happy to tell others where they work and why they should buy from you, too.

Look for causes you can get behind to make you feel even stronger about your reasons for being in business in the first place.

Successful Brand

4. Develop Strong Leadership

Have you ever seen a business thrive without a strong leader? Leadership is about more than just being organized or having vision, though. Excellent leaders know how to motivate their employees. They try new things, drive forward-thinking in the company and lead by example.

The best bosses jump in and work any task that needs done, but they also know how to delegate the little things so they can focus on the big picture. Take classes, go to seminars and read books on leadership until you inspire everyone who comes in contact with you.

5. Keep Cash Flowing

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports about 20% of small businesses fail the first year and 50% fail by their fifth year. Why do so many small businesses fail? While there are many reasons, cash flow is a recurring one.

A company grows too fast to keep up with the costs of inventory, or they miss out on working with a big box retailer because they don’t have the cash to front the initial shipment on net-30 or net-60 payment terms.

Set aside a percentage of profits for a “rainy day” fund. Make sure you plan for the unexpected. Whenever possible, cut costs. Turning off the lights when you aren’t in your building may seem like a minor effort, but combined with other money-saving measures can cut costs and give you more accessible cash.

6. Gain Exposure

You might have the most amazing brand in the history of companies, but if no one hears about it, you won’t get very far. You must figure out your marketing strategy and attack from multiple platforms to get in front of your target audience.

First, make sure you fully understand your customers. Who buys your products and where do they hang out? Do they have similar friends? How can you reach them?

Don’t rely only on paid advertising. You should also start referral programs, run contests to spread the news about your company and think outside the box for promotions. Any exposure builds your recognition factor.

7. Develop Loyal Fans

Top brands have a loyal following. Figuring out how to retain customers and turn them into a street team isn’t easy, though. It requires years of consistent marketing and creative promotions to let your customers know how much you appreciate them.

For example, if you run an online children’s clothing boutique, you might offer member-only discounts, give them early access to new products and encourage them to share information about your website with others in exchange for additional savings.

Find Success One Step at a Time

Success doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll make mistakes along the way and learn from them. As your brand recognition grows, you’ll learn what works for your audience and what doesn’t.

Pay attention to your competitors. What do they do that works and how can you repeat it or take it a step further? With determination and by implementing the steps above, you’ll find more success than you ever imagined.

Eleanor Hecks is the editor-in-chief of Designerly Magazine.