July 23, 2015 By Suzanne Robertson

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” -- Jeff Bezos

Apple, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Google. These “megabrands” brands have collectively spent billions making sure they are globally recognized. As a small business owner, you might think that branding is just for the big guys. However, paying attention to your brand can pay off – no matter how small you are.

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What exactly is a “brand”?

A brand encompasses all of the interactions and experiences your customers and potential customers have with your small business. A strong brand establishes credibility and trust. Having on-point branding also communicates very clearly what your company does and how it does it. Your brand flows through everything you do – from your logo to your website to your employees. “Branding” can sound overwhelming but there are some easy and inexpensive ways to build your small business brand.

Start with a stellar name and logo.

Who doesn’t recognize the golden arches? When consumers hear your name or see your logo, they should be able to immediately identify your company, products and services.

Keep in mind how many places your name and logo appear – from your website to promotional materials to packaging. Make sure it works everywhere.

If you’re still in the start-up phase and haven’t decided on a name, check out our guest blog post from Nerd Wallet, How to Name a Small Business: Keep It Short and Sweet.

Empower your customers

You can craft your brand and set direction. But your current customers and your potential customers determine how your brand is perceived in the marketplace.

Turn your customers into brand ambassadors for your small business. Some easy steps you can take include encouraging positive reviews on sites like Yelp and Google+, offering a discount for a social media check in and sending birthday postcards. This will keep your brand top-of-mind and spread your message across your customer’s network too.

Customer empowerment starts with customer loyalty. You can learn more about building loyal customers in our recent blog post: Three Quick and Easy Ways to Build Customer Loyalty For Your Small Business

Avoid duplicating the look of big brands.

Craft your own distinctive identity. “Shop small” and “shop local” are growing consumer trends. Accentuate why you are different from an impersonal global company and make sure your customers know it.

Work hard to carve out your own distinctive identity. This will help attract customers who are looking for something different, want to support small business owners and appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit.

Have a consistent tone of voice.

Having a strong and steady voice lets your customers know that your quality and performance will be consistent too. Customers will be aware of exactly what to expect from the product or service. Make sure this message is coherent and duplicated across your entire business from employees to signage.

Don't Be Afraid to Get Expert Advice

When you’re an entrepreneur, it can often feel like you’re alone on an island. A very busy island with many tasks to accomplish! You don’t have to go it alone. You can spend some of your marketing dollars to hire an outside firm to help with naming and branding. You can also tap into your own network. Order pizza and invite friends and family over for a good old fashioned brainstorming session. A wide variety of ideas can help nail down your message and how best to broadcast that to consumers.

Want more information? Check out the Top 10 Books on Branding.

Do you need extra funds for your small business? An SBA loan is the best bet for small businesses with low rates, long terms and low monthly payments. Visit SmartBiz today and discover in about five minutes if you’re qualified for an SBA loan.

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