Branding is Key to Small Business Success

Your Brand Is…

Public perception of your business from advertising and logo to reputation and customer service;

The foundation for giving your organization a voice and identity among consumers;

How customers feel when they think of you;

A recognition factor;

A way to grow your company.

Visible and recognizable brand identity is important. Your brand helps to establish credibility for your services or products and builds name awareness. This, in turn, increases your “findability”. Branding gives employees direction and motivation. It creates trust by providing social proof of the quality of the services or products your business offers. A well-constructed brand elicits emotion which is key as so many purchases are emotionally based. All businesses, regardless of size, should focus on branding strategies.

Your brand identity is more than a logo. It is everything you stand for, the story of your business, and includes visual and verbal communications. It improves recognition which helps generate word-of-mouth and revenue because consumers prefer to buy from brands they recognize and trust. What do you want associated with your organization? While consistency is a must, there are some other things to consider when crafting your brand.

What is your mission? Develop a concise statement of what you do and why you do it. Explain the value provided by your products or services. Share what your organization is passionate about. Your mission statement can serve as your elevator pitch, a set of two to three sentences embraced and shared by everyone in your organization. Stand for something and communicate what that is but be purposeful in communicating your message. Consider what image you want to put out to the public.

Understand what makes you different so you can separate yourself from your competition. Outline the qualities and benefits your business offers and incorporate those into your branding. Share what makes you unique by defining the purpose of your business and your core values. Tell what you stand for and what you are trying to accomplish. If you don’t know why people should choose you over another brand, the consumers will have difficulty figuring it out.

Clarify your target audience. Develop buyer personas and tailor your branding strategy to meet their needs. Who are your customers? How old are they? What is their income range? Gender? Who are the people most likely to do business with you? By fully defining what your customers need or want and how your products or services meet those needs, you can create an emotional connection with your audience. When you key into consumer psychology and connect emotionally you can create a loyal customer base. Remember that a smaller, more specific audience allows you to better target them.

Your business name is consumers’ first impression of your business. Is it unique and catchy? Is it relevant to what you do? Does it help customers easily remember what kind of products or services you offer? Avoid acronyms, initials, puns, and dull descriptions. Also, consider what the potential URL will look like and capture the domain name once you’ve made a decision.

Along with a name, adopt a catchy tagline. In two to three words, describe what you do, your values, or what you provide. Establish a logo. It is highly recommended to retain a professional graphic designer. Your logo is the visual representation of what your brand stands for and is essential for gaining brand recognition. Do remember that your logo isn’t your brand, it’s a symbol that identifies your brand.

Clean, simple elements create a memorable and recognizable brand. Change is difficult for many people so, above all, consistency is a must. Define brand guidelines for your logo, color palette, taglines, fonts, typography, imagery, mascots, spokespeople, and tone of voice. Guidelines should be followed everywhere you do business. Always. The consistency should not just be in regards to visual aspects, but also in terms of purpose. Voice, messaging and personality of your social media platforms and the business website should also be consistent with your brand guidelines.

Your business use of social media channels is not just about building profiles. It is about building trust and relationships. Be consistent not only in your posting schedule, but in the quality of the content being posted as well. Stay authentic to the personality of your business and allow your employees to help build the brand with social media posts – once they have been fully trained to authentically represent the organization.

The tone of voice, or personality, of your business should be representative of the industry you represent and the services or products you provide. A quirky, humorous tone might be a turn off to someone choosing which funeral home to do business with. Somber sophistication, on the other hand, might work well for a funeral home but make no sense for an organization that sells naughty t-shirts. Whichever tone you establish, it should be authentic and utilized consistently throughout your face-to-face business, marketing, website, social media, etc.

Branding should be visible in every aspect of your business. Integrate your brand into how phones are answered, what employees wear, email signatures, website, social media, blogs, etc. And get your brand out into the public. Establish your organization as an authority through blogs, posts, and comments and create opportunities for promotional giveaways.

Be aware that, despite your best efforts, you will never be in complete control of your brand. In today’s electronic world, current and past customers can often eclipse formal marketing efforts. Monitor reviews and comments regarding your products or services. Respond in a positive and helpful manner to negative critiques and express gratitude for complementary posts. How you interact with consumers, your customer service practices, impacts your reputation and related brand perception.

Branding helps your organization solidly commit to established core values and also to consistently express them. Your brand is your promise to consumers – what they can expect from your products or services. Track the progress of your branding efforts and keep in mind that the smallest details can influence consumer perceptions about your brand. Contact us to learn more about our small business brand development and design services, and how our team can help you develop a professional brand identity.