We’re all familiar with the biggest brands in the world and we all see how the brand adds value to these companies. If you are a small business owner, you might think that branding only works for these large companies, but that is not true. Every business has a brand. The only question is whether you are going to take control of yours.
In simple terms, a brand is like a company’s reputation. It is the sum of public perception concerning your business, your products and the services you provide. If you are a small business owner, you should make an effort to build your brand. If you don’t, an image will still form around your company, but it may not be the one you want.
Fortunately, there are steps a small business owner can take to build a brand that don’t have to break the marketing budget.
Find Your Identity
Branding is about more than your company’s name or a slogan – it’s about having an identity that people recognize. If you are going to develop a brand, you need to figure out the type of image you want to project as a business.
Start by looking at the products and services your business provides. How do they help your customers? What types of problems do your products and services solve? What type of experience do you want customers to have when they use your products or services?
You should also think about what sets your business apart from the competition. Is there something that makes your product noticeably different from those of your competitors? Also, think about your company’s mission and core values. Is there a reason why customers should care about your brand when compared to others in your industry?
Know Your Customers
Finding your identity is an important part of branding, but you can’t lose sight of your customers. Along with knowing yourself, you also need to know the people you plan to sell to. Developing a detailed buyer persona for your ideal customer can help you to deliver the right message and form a brand that will connect to those customers.
If you want to find the right target audience, you should go into more detail than just age or gender. Try to figure out who these people are by considering things like their interests, behaviors, income, education, pain points and more. Once you have a detailed buyer persona, you can look to other companies they like to find some insights into the types of branding and marketing that will resonate with that group.
Research Your Competitors
You want to build a brand that stands out and is unique, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in looking at what your competitors do. If they are doing something well, then you might want to consider using some of their strategies to form your own. If they are doing something poorly, then you might be able to find an opportunity to be better.
When you are evaluating your competition, there are several points you may want to look at. Consider the quality of their products or services, their messaging and visuals and their marketing efforts. Look at the ways customers are receiving and responding to the branding of your competitor to get a feel for how well different elements of their strategy perform.
While there may be value to be found in the efforts of your competitors, you want to find ways to make your brand special or unique. Chances are that there are other companies offering similar products or services to the same group. If you don’t do something to set your brand apart, your company will get lost in the noise.
Your unique offering does not have to be something that blows customers away; it just needs to establish your brand as different from the competition. Outline all of the things your company offers to customers and look for the things that are unique to your business. Once you have an idea of what makes your company unique, try to find ways to incorporate the things that stand out into all of your messaging.
Your Brand Story
A good story is the perfect way to compel people to action. People identify with stories and they get them to invest emotionally in the journey. As a small business owner, developing a brand story can be one of the best ways to connect with customers.
There are several points you could cover when telling your brand story. Obviously, you want to tell customers who you are, but you should also give them an idea of why you do what you do and provide them with reasons why they should care about your brand.
Voice & Personality
Modern consumers don’t want to shop from a business that is flat and without personality. In many ways, they want their interactions to seem like they are dealing with another person. To have success with branding, you want to develop a voice and personality for your company.
Depending on the type of business you run and your target audience, there are different points to consider when building a personality and a voice for your brand. Do you want to be serious or have a little more fun? Should your brand be friendly or professional? Is your brand for other professionals and experts or is it for the average person?
Good visuals should be a part of your brand strategy. This is more than just having a good logo. You should identify colors and symbols that represent your brand throughout every experience your customer may have. This includes your website, the packaging of products, print materials, your social media activity and more.
Coming up with good visuals and a color scheme can be difficult. Since this is an important part of building your brand, you might want to hire professionals to help you design your logo or to come up with a color scheme. It will cost more than doing it yourself, but the extra expense will pay off if you get it right.
With these tips, small businesses can be successful with brand building. With that being said, you need to remember that brand building never really ends. Once you establish your brand, you need to continue your efforts to maintain it.