The origins of branding go back thousands of years and in the world of modern business and retail, branding helps differentiate your products and services. When branded properly, your small business can make a lasting impression on the hearts, minds, and wallets of your customers.
Your brand is a unique statement and identity that revolves around your small business and helps differentiate it from the rest. The right branding strategy will help you create, communicate and maintain this invaluable asset in your marketing and sales funnel.
What’s in your brand?
Branding is more than just creating compelling new logos and visuals on social media. While these elements are important, they are the result of a journey that begins by asking yourself and your key stakeholders some important questions. Each question leads to a clear set of answers that can form the basis of your branding strategy. From the smallest boutique tailor to the biggest billion-dollar soft drink brands, any business looking for an authentic brand begins their brand strategic process by asking and answering similar questions.
- What is your company culture and what are your core values?
- Are your products and services unique and innovative? Or are they commodities?
- How do you differentiate your small business from competitors?
- Who are your customers? What do they expect from your small business brand?
- What properties or qualities should customers associate with your company and the products and services you offer?
- How do customers feel about your business? Are you premium and high quality or more affordable for the general market?
- What does your pricing strategy communicate to the people who see your brand?
Create your brand value
Your logo can be the trickiest part of your branding strategy and a great place to start. There are other branding elements to consider: color, typeface, photography or illustration, and the voice and tone you use when writing your copy. When used properly, all of these elements together form the set of assets that will make up your branding kit. Work with a designer or consultant who can help you create a variety of branding elements that you can scale and adapt to all your needs, from the smallest social media profiles to giant printed banners. The designer’s job is to help you create a brand look and feel that defines your place in the market, creates the right customer expectations, and, ideally, is unique and authentic for your small business.
Think carefully about all the elements your brand could potentially see.
- Website, blog, and social media assets
- Keep labels and items in store
- Advertising – digital, print, television, etc.
- Direct mail
- Bulletin and electronic bulletin
- Forms, invoices, and other printed materials
- Digital signature for email
- Name card
Deploying your brand assets
Back to the billion marks. Let’s get some rocking: Swoosh, Golden Arches, the two dramatic tones you hear before watching your favorite show. You don’t even have to see or hear a certain brand value before you can remember it. You are very iconic. No matter how small your company is, you have the opportunity to create something meaningful with a strong brand response. There are several keys to success in introducing your new brand value. A solid branding strategy can and should change the game for you and your small business if you get it right.
- It’s all about consistency. Ensure that each point of contact is marked at each step. Your small business is in a symphony of communication channels and you don’t want musical scores from an orchestra.
- Report incoming changes. Whenever you start a new brand or “rename” an existing small business, be sure to communicate these changes to your customers and key stakeholders, especially if you need to train them to look for things like new logos or packaging.
- Evolution versus revolution. Brands are living and developing things that have to go through a combination of subtle and dramatic permutation throughout their life. Avoid knee changes or reactions. Instead, visit the important topics discussed above from time to time. When you come across an interesting new answer, it might be time to make some changes to your small business branding strategy.
This is an extraordinary time to be a small business owner. Digital tools have equalized and given younger players access to a larger audience looking for a unique experience. With this tool, a small business like you has the opportunity to tap into that potential and become the next big brand people are talking about. Good luck and have fun with branding!