What Does Branding Mean to a Small Business?

What Is a Brand?

Your brand is designed to be a representation of who you are as a business and how you wish to be perceived. Branding is a central component of your business or organization because it creates a first impression for consumers. It is a sign of an effective brand when elements appear in front of your customer and they instantly think of you. Your branding also provides an impression of what you have to offer. Finally, and most importantly, it is a way to set yourself apart from competitors.

There are many different definitions of branding out there; however, in our opinion, branding is so much more than just picking coordinating colours and throwing together a logo. We view branding as an extension of your business and marketing strategies. Therefore, before you develop the branding for your business or organization, you should start with a strategy.

There should be thought and research behind the elements of your brand. And speaking of elements of your brand, here are what we think should go into your brand:

  • Name
  • Logo
  • Colours
  • Fonts
  • Imagery
  • Messaging
  • Brand Voice
  • Vocabulary

Now that we know the ‘what,’ let’s get into the ‘how’ of branding.

How to Create a Brand

If you are creating a brand for a new business or you are revamping your small business’s brand, you might be wondering how you can create an effective brand that will help you stand out from your competitors, clearly visualize what you have to offer and attract more customers. As we had mentioned, your brand should be based on strategy and not just what looks good.

Here are some steps to develop a new brand based on strategy.

1. Define your objectives

The first thing you must do when developing a brand is defining your objectives. This step provides you with the direction you need to create an effective brand. Your brand objectives should be specific and measurable goals. These objectives could include:

  • Boosting brand awareness
  • Expanding your customer base
  • Increasing customer retention
  • Building your brand’s authority in your industry
  • Promoting your products
  • Growing your business

2. Determine your target audience

While it is your brand, it should be designed to appeal to your target audience. If your ideal customer is a plant operator, you wouldn’t create a brand that would appeal to college students. If you can define your target audience and determine their interests, your brand will be more likely to effectively appeal to them. Developing customer personas are a great way to determine your target audience.

3. Review your competitors

Your brand is all about helping you stand out in your industry. You don’t want to develop a brand that looks exactly like your competitors. That is why it is important to research your competitors and their brands. By identifying their weaknesses and strengths, you can fill in the gaps with your own branding.

4. Outline your benefits and what makes you unique

As much as you hate to admit it, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of businesses just like your own. That means your potential customers need to be convinced that you are unique and the best choice. Lay out what benefits you offer and what solutions you offer on top of your products or services. You will then be able to feature those qualities in your brand.

5. Establish your core messaging

Your core message is a key element of your brand and your marketing. It clearly describes what you do, along with the problems you solve. When it comes to your business, your customer has three questions:

  • Do you understand the problem (need) that I have?
  • Do you have a solution to solve my problem?
  • What will my life look like after I use your product or service?

Your core marketing message should address those questions to create a quick connection and an easy solution. And by first establishing a core message, the problem you solve and what makes you unique, you can better create the visual aspects of your brand.

6. Find your brand voice

Content is an important part of your business and your brand. You are providing valuable information to your prospective clients. That is why you must establish and maintain a consistent brand voice. Does your content sound professional, or do you use a more casual tone? Do you use technical language, or do you include slang words? Whatever you do, make sure that your brand voice is consistent and genuine.

7. Create your visual assets

Then comes the elements most commonly associated with the term ‘branding.’ You have put in the work and developed the strategy, now it is time to create your visuals; This includes your logo, colours, fonts, graphics and more.

Branding Tips for Small Businesses

Now that you have the ‘what’ and ‘how’ to create an effective brand, here are some tips on maintaining a brand that will properly represent your small business.

Brand Management & Brand Guides

Maintaining a consistent brand is so important for brand recognition. Your customers should be instantly able to associate any aspect of your brand with your business. Keep your brand consistent across all your marketing, whether it is online or in print. Your whole team should also be committed to implementing a consistent brand.

This is why brand guidelines are so beneficial for managing your brand. Every team member should be able to refer to the brand guidelines and properly apply your brand aspects. Your brand guide should include aspects like your logo, fonts, colours, messaging and other elements of your brand, with clear rules on how they should be implemented.

Grow Your Community & Recognition

By growing your community, or your audience, you will be able to grow your brand recognition. They can also work on your behalf to share your brand elements. If people trust a company’s community, they will extend trust to the brand.

You can build online communities and followers on social media, your blog, or other platforms. Pick a few platforms to focus on building your community and invest your resources there.

Have Your Customers Represent Your Brand

You can set your brand’s direction, but how your brand is perceived is determined by your audience. But to help control your brand and to promote it, you can turn your audience into your brand’s ambassadors, where they share your brand with their own networks. Spend time nurturing relationships with your best customers. If you help your customers succeed, your customers will help your brand succeed.

While a brand may be compiled of more aspects than you originally thought, creating and maintaining an effective brand for your small business isn’t that complicated - it is all about strategy. In the end, creating and maintaining a strong brand for your business can help you stand out from the crowd, attract the right customers, and make all your marketing efforts more effective.

Posted: October 26, 2022