Brand building may seem like something just for big names like Pepsi or Walmart, but the process is just as important for small businesses as it is for large companies. In fact, developing a brand for your business is virtually inevitable, even before you obtain your first customer. After you read the below guide to branding, you’ll see why.
Why Branding Matters
According to Entrepreneur, business branding is the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. With just a few elements, your brand communicates who you are, where you’re heading, and how you hope to be perceived.
No matter what kind of business you run, building a brand is a highly effective way to stand out from the crowd and develop a unique presence both on and offline. A strong, unique identity will give you the opportunity to make an impression on potential customers even before they commit to your company.
12 Tips for Building a Strong Brand
Ready to get started? Here are our tips to engage your audience through your brand’s image.
1. Create a Great Product and Service Experience
All the marketing and outreach you do will always lead back to what you sell, whether that’s a product or a service. The customer’s experience should always be at the core of your brand. People like to share outstanding service. Put in the work from the outset and your reputation can grow just through word of mouth.
To see how you’re doing, make sure to check in and follow up with customers . Consider creating a profile on a platform like TrustPilot where customers can leave their reviews. Then, set clear success metrics that will help you measure exactly what needs to be improved if necessary.
2. Build Community Relationships
When it comes to customer loyalty, personal connections help to develop a strong customer base.
Remember to stay focused. Especially online, zero in on the social media platforms where you can add something unique and valuable to the conversation.. There are endless ways to get your name out there, from blogging to social media to email marketing. Check out our advice on free online advertising for more details about each major social media platform so you can decide where to focus on building your presence.
Once you’ve narrowed your options down, aim to be as consistent as possible. Post trustworthy content regularly, stay on topic, and interact with the users who respond to your content. Once you start recognizing their names, chances are they’ve already remembered yours.
3. Design a Creative Name and Logo
To be easily recognizable and memorable, it’s worth spending time creating an original name and logo for your business. A design and just a word or two can speak volumes for your entire business. Don’t hesitate to take some creative risks, especially as you’re starting out. You never know–they may lead you to unexpected success!
4. Find Your Tone
Once you’ve gotten to know your customers, think about the elements you want to incorporate in your company’s tone. Will you lean toward a more professional, informative sound or a casual, playful one? Will you incorporate trending topics or offer timeless advice? Experiment and refine your strategy based on your followers’ feedback. Above all though, make sure to remain authentic. Would you follow a company who continuously self-promotes instead of sharing valuable information?
5. Defend Your Mission
Your values should shape and define your brand. Standing for core principles and establishing a mission will help you communicate clearly and consistently with your audience. You’ll have the chance to show your potential customers what you believe in and how you’re taking the initiative to get there.
For example, instead of discounting your products or services across the board, it might be more rewarding to create loyalty programs and offer promotional products to the customers who relate to your mission and keep coming back.
6. Define Your Brand Identity
Your brand identity includes your company’s reputation and unique values, as well as visuals like a logo. It also includes your behaviors -- how do your employees interact with the public, and what does that say about your business? You can define your brand identity by asking yourself the following questions:
- What three words best describe my company? If you’re customer-oriented, innovative, and eco-friendly, your branding should reflect these values. You can achieve this goal through content that explains your latest news while showing your nature-evoking logo. You should pair this content with a company culture that prioritizes swift and thorough customer service.
- What should come to mind when people think of my company? If you’re going for a brand image that evokes a helpful, knowledgeable team, use photos of smiling, relaxed employees in your ads. If you want to evoke regality, logos with sleek lines and luxurious black hues can achieve this effect with your target audience.
- What is the company’s mission statement? You don’t need to explicitly state your mission in your content marketing, but you should make sure that your materials and customer experience reflect your goals. For example, if you’re making certain products or services newly accessible to a certain demographic, set your prices accordingly and make it clear how you’re achieving these lower prices.
- How do I want to change my industry? If you’re bringing transparency to a notoriously closed-off industry, effective branding could include a clear logo or one with a glassy look. It could also include making your customer service so robust that you earn yourself a reputation as a company as customer-centric as Amazon.
7. Know Your Audience
Your branding should appeal primarily to your target audience, as you have a higher chance of converting likely audience members to customers than you would appealing to everyone out there. For example, if you’re starting a B2B digital marketing firm, your branding should appeal to small business owners, not everyday shoppers. Small business owners value professionalism, confidence, and expertise, so you should design your logo, website, social media presence, and other content to reflect these values.
8. Consider Thought Leadership Marketing
Branding isn’t entirely about how your company looks. It’s also about the value you offer that your competitors can’t provide. That’s why thought leadership marketing can be a powerful part of your brand strategy. Blogs, social media posts, white papers, and other content that positions you or your key employees as one-of-a-kind experts in their field brands your company as knowledgeable and trustworthy. These attributes are valuable for businesses in all fields.
9. Be Unique and Consistent
Successful brands stand out from the crowd – and they do so around the clock. Marketing strategies that differ from your competitors are one piece of this pie. The other is ensuring that all your marketing campaigns are predicated on the same visuals, values, and tone. A standout branding approach that rarely shifts in shape is key to properly branding your small business.
10. Stay True To Your Word
Deviating from the values your branding connects to your company is a surefire way to lessen consumer trust in your business. If you value giving your customers transformative experiences, never include anything that evokes ordinary feelings in your branding. More importantly, make sure your products are as awe-inducing as your branding makes them seem.
11. Use Social Media
In the above tips, you’ve probably noticed social media coming up time and again. That’s because social media gives you an easy way to establish your brand identity. You can use it to share content, establish your brand voice, get your logo out there, and do so much more. And most importantly, you can do it all for free.
12. Consult With an Expert
It’s one thing to understand the above tips. It’s another to be experienced and confident in implementing them. If you can’t quite feel this way about your branding efforts, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a brand consultant. These consultants can help you design your logo, determine your values, and handle all the other aspects of establishing your brand identity. They can be expensive, but the increased revenue that can accompany a strong brand may ultimately cover your consulting costs.
Although the above branding tips for small businesses are comprehensive and commonly heard, some entrepreneurs struggle to shake certain false notions about branding. Here are some of these notions and why they’re untrue:
- Branding is only for large or growing businesses . No business can succeed without knowing what sets it apart. Put another way, imagine launching a business without any sense of what you want to achieve and how you’re different from your competitors? That’s a fast track to failure – and branding your company helps you avoid this outcome.
- Branding is expensive . Yes, brand consulting can be expensive, but it costs no money to take as much time as you need to reflect on your values, goals, and other key parts of your brand. If you’re skilled at graphic design, you can also create your logo all by yourself. And if not, low-cost logo-making tools can give you an assist.
- Branding is difficult . Given all that you’ve learned from reading this article, chances are that you now see how simple branding can be. Branding is really just another way to frame why you’re starting your business and how you think people will benefit from it. Plus, you can access this thorough branding guide at any time if you get stuck!
For more business marketing advice and tips from our experts, head over to the SmartBiz Small Business Blog!