The Power of Small Business Branding

Many view success in small business as too steep a climb to try. Admittedly, there is a case to be made for nestling safely into a cubicle of the nearest vast corporate hive. So, why does the little guy go toe to toe with giants and fight for market share? Well, because people do actually succeed by doing that, and you get to be your own boss, and you get to work for your own dream. There are even some big advantages to being little when it’s time to start on branding. 

Small businesses have opportunities unique to their size to make their mark in even the most crowded markets. Their gargantuan corporate counterparts can no longer be as effective with certain branding approaches that can make a small business stand out with a prominent identity compared to the competition. 

Yes, developing a winning brand can be challenging — but that’s true for small and mega-companies alike. Yes, the big guys have big bank accounts. But, strategic investment in a local market can take your small business a very long way. Especially if you have a strong branding message and superior customer service. That combination is the key. Competitive branding is a contest of creativity in featuring comparative value and personal appeal.

What is Business Branding?

Branding is any process aimed at developing a unique, appealing, and memorable image for a business or other entity to distinguish it from others in its category. That’s not the same thing as marketing per se, though the two are often confused. The scope of branding is much broader.

Marketing is the work of promoting products and services for the purpose of short-term revenue generation, lead production, traffic building, or maybe just product awareness raising, etc. Branding is the work of promoting the company itself. It is focused on making the business maximally recognizable and trusted by projecting a compelling business persona and values in common with its customers. 

Branding assets may include logos, other graphic images, photos, colors, slogans, taglines, musical notes, jingles, narratives, a spokesperson, mascot, and other elements that can become so closely associated with your business that they are perceived as representational aspects of it. What does that all amount to? 

A strong brand reputation helps a business stand out from competitors. According to a LinkedIn study, 86% of consumers say that authenticity is a major consideration for them when choosing a brand. Research also indicates that nearly 60% say good customer service is essential to developing a sense of loyalty to a brand. Branding helps with recognizability and trust-building, and it also strengthens connections with clients. People can more easily trust a strong brand. 

Increasing a company’s exposure to its target market cultivates recognizability and attracts prospect traffic. So, a new small business can build a loyal customer base quicker and more easily by emphasis on branding.

10 Branding Steps to Build Your Small Business.

Here are the basic components of every good branding program. Following this series of steps will help you create a powerful brand for the great product(s) and customer service that will make your business a lasting success.

1. Educate Yourself About Branding Strategies. 

Your brand’s identity transcends its mission as the strongest driving force of its engagement with all its employees, customers, other stakeholders and the larger community around it. So, create your branding campaigns around that principle of personification of your organization based on its core values. 

That is the belief structure of a successful brand. It is the element of brand individuation that makes it possible for you to set your business apart from the rest of the field and make it distinctly memorable in the market. Branch from here into the particulars of specific branding actions listed below. 

2. Identify Your Target Audience.

It’s notable that to help the people you have identified as your target audience know who you are through your business requires understanding them first. You will need to comprehend the interests and pain points and motivations of the people you want to serve through your business. That is really the only reliable way to communicate with them successfully about how you can meet their needs better than anyone else in your industry locally. So do your research.

ASK QUESTIONS: What are your target customer demographics? What are their interests? What do they need that you can provide? What solution(s) can you offer for their current problem(s)? What unique value proposition does each of your competitors offer? What are their brand personalities like? Casual, formal, friendly? How do your target audience members feel about your company? What do they think you should add, replace, change, or improve? 

3. Create a Branding Budget.

Branding can be expensive but there are many ways you can be creative and effective without breaking the bank. Create a realistic budget and find ways to cut costs. For example, to produce a basic logo design, there are various alternatives. You could ask a talented student, relative, friend, etc. Familiarize yourself with some online tools for creating basic graphics and for specifically designing logos. 

Consider creating your own web content for a blog to drive traffic to your website. Use SEO tools to add keywords and make other adjustments to rank on Google. Invite guest bloggers you find on the web. Wear company branded jackets, hats, t-shirts, etc off-site. Make the most of social media branding opportunities. Designate an employee to update your social pages and provide appropriate answers to participants’ questions. 

4. Choose Your Brand Voice.

Your brand voice is the personality of your company. It tells the world how you want to be seen, heard, and understood as an expert in your industry, provider in your market, and contributor to your community. It’s the key feature of your branding for general public appeal and memorability. Whether you choose a parental or comical brand voice, you need it to be genuine and welcoming. 

Many brands highlight these traits to represent them because they naturally resonate with the broadest audience. Also, remember that your brand voice must be consistently projected, not vacillating between disparate personas. Consistency helps build trust with consumers. People feel more comfortable with dependable service experiences, so you are more likely to generate more leads and sales as a brand steadily conveying an image of reliability in your imaging, messaging, and voice. 

5. Develop Your Brand Message.

Now that you have found your brand’s voice, develop a core message from your elected company values that is sure to resonate with your audience. Research indicates that 74% of customers identify with a brand because of its values. Consistently apply this narrative across your website, social platform interactions, advertising, and internal communications. 

Whatever brand personality you’ve chosen to characterize your organization, whether it’s amusing or serious, carefree or formal, conservative or exciting, build your marketing plan with it. Above all, make sure the messaging is clear about what you offer and what people need to do to use your service or products.

6. Create Unique Visual Identifiers.

Your company’s logo and other visual images, and its human representatives are equal to its identity. So, these queues should reflect your brand’s message. Make the visual images that will represent your business recognizable, appealing, and memorable. Your logo should be versatile, for use in a wide range of applications, from digital to paper, to cloth, to plastic, etc. Use these throughout all your marketing, sales, and operations activities. 

Research trends in your and other industries for inspiration from images already in use. Evaluate them and consider what makes them successful, or not, as symbols of the brands they represent. These images help provide a sense of cohesiveness and consistency of messaging for your business. 

7. Build Your Web Presence. 

As you know, businesses looking for portable toilet rentals or septic services go directly to Google to search for companies of your type first. They’re not going to look in a paper phone book or drive around town hoping to see a shop that looks like what they need. So, if you’re new and haven’t had time to build a customer base on word of mouth, it’s time to focus on building the best website you can. 

You should put a substantial percentage of your branding budget into local SEO (search engine optimization) to help draw traffic to your site when people search for your business type locally. Get a professional branding agency to help you if you can.

8. Capitalize on Social Media.

Social media offers you the wide-open world of opportunities to engage with people on the global gamut of topics. The business relationships you need for success are there for you to create and develop. You don’t have to travel with promotional gear, orchestrate events to get the word out about your company, attend functions that are long distances away, etc. Instead, you can just relax and chat with people where they’re already spending some of their casual time. 

Answer customers’ questions about problems with products and services that are in your range of expertise. Let yourself be recognized as an industry expert who is generously giving your time to help people. That kind of personal engagement is one of today’s purest branding methods. 

People appreciate dealing with knowledgeable people who are willing to help, and they’re likely to be more amenable to favorably reviewing products and brands represented by such personable professionals.

9. Obsess About Quality.

To build a successful brand, maintain your commitment to delivering quality products and services. Of course, that’s the best branding any business can do. It’s priceless. The most expensive branding ads and other external activities cannot equal the value of branding through satisfied customers’ comments, reviews, and word of mouth to acquaintances. The great beauty of this step is that you’re already doing it automatically, every day.

10. Analyze Your Branding Results.

Ultimately, the proof of your results in branding is in your metrics. Therefore, you need to prioritize setting up your data tracking before you launch your branding program and assess your numbers as you go along.

Check for strengths and weaknesses in your website, social media pages, and other branding outlets. This final step will enable you to understand the outcome of your branding work and what you need to do to improve your results over time.

Continue Refining Your Brand Guidelines 

Create a digital space for building a set of brand guidelines with examples of graphics, color swaths, etc. In your guide, set forth brand rules, iterate the company values and explain how they should be reflected in all branding. As your brand evolves through the years, technologies and people will change, and your brand will need to adapt. So, expect and allow that, while preserving the core values around which the brand has been built and sustained.

The Big Picture of Small Business Branding

To create a brand for your business, educate yourself about your target audience, form a statement of your company’s values, and develop your brand voice and message. Design your visual and audio branding assets and apply them comprehensively. Create a budget for your branding initiative and track the program’s performance metrics to measure increases in brand awareness, revenues, and customer loyalty. Collect customer feedback. Ensure consistency of your branding by putting together a brand style guide that stipulates and clarifies each element of your branding package.

To rebrand your small business, you should start by conducting market research to identify areas for improvement. You should also define your new brand strategy, develop a new visual identity, and communicate your rebranding efforts to customers. 

Make sure there is sufficient differentiation between your chosen branding elements and others already in use in your market and other industries. Before you roll out your branding program, evaluate its creativity, appeal, and memorability. Check for domain availability and any potential issues of trademark infringements.

Prepare to be consistent in your commitment to the brand identity in everything the company publicizes that is appropriate for dual usage as a branding tool. Branding appeals to emotion. So, your branded communications will help motivate the way people feel about your company. Your credibility and the caliber of customer experience you deliver will together create a unique option for people in your competitive market. 

Even as a small business, your organization can develop a very powerful brand that stands out among competitors and gains trust and market share. You can achieve that by making the most of the basic 10-step process above and remaining consistent over time with your product and service quality and continued branding efforts.

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