Creating a business involves many steps. One of the most important steps in creating your small business is branding.
Take a minute to think about big companies like Disney, Apple, and Amazon. These million and billion-dollar companies are champions of branding; when you think of them, their images are immediately conjured up in your brain. These images don’t appear in your head on accident - they've been ingrained into the branding of the companies. Every time someone sees these images they are able to recall the company associated with them.
Creating a successful brand takes a lot of time, creativity, and effort to separate yourself from the rest. Here are some tips to effectively help small businesses be able to brand themselves like bigger companies.
Why should you brand your business?
Owning a small business gives you the power of recognition and presents long-term value. It also helps you separate yourself from the competition.
Branding also makes your business appear legitimate and polished. When a brand is significant enough to be known simply by their logo, they have reached a whole new status with consumers.
Executing a good marketing strategy can help you get to that point. Without a brand, you are simply a product or service without an identity. By branding your business, you increase your chances for future partnerships, credibility among consumers, opportunities for expansion, and overall value.
What's the difference between branding and marketing?
Many people think that marketing and branding are synonymous, and while they may work together harmoniously, they are certainly not the same thing. Your brand is the identity you want to market to consumers. On the other hand, marketing is simply promoting a business's products, services, or even brand.
Establishing a clear identity
Every brand will differ depending on the business you are running, but there are some consistent questions every business owner should ask themselves when first cultivating their identity.
Who is my target? - Find your core demographics, age, gender, location
What is my purpose? - Help consumers understand why you created this business in the first place and why you feel passionate about it.
What is my message? - Cultivate a message to convey to your consumers about your business.
What value do I bring to the consumer? - Establish values that are going to shape the culture of your brand and brand vision.
What is my strategy? - Set milestones for your branding journey.
What is my brand story? - Create a story from the inception of your business to the point you are in right now.
What is my brand personality? - Cultivate a unique personality that people recognize you for.
Steps to cultivating a successful brand
Keep your customer in mind
Always keep your customer at the forefront of your mind. Your brand needs to sell itself because no one wants to be sold to. Customers want to feel they have a choice when they select your brand as the one they invite into their lives. Thus, you need to create a brand that resonates with your target audience.
Develop a personality
Successful brands usually have a unique voice. This brand personality is what you will become known for. There are many options for what personality you want to develop for your business. Do you want to use a lot of humor, or do you want to come off as posh? Regardless of what you choose, make sure it fits your business well and appeals to consumers.
Create a strong logo
Images will always capture a consumer’s attention first. Therefore, you want to have an eye-catching, unique logo. Take the time to understand how to integrate concepts like color psychology to create a good logo. Make it so users recognize you at a glance because if customers are highly aware of your brand, they're more likely to buy from your business.
A lot of big companies have changed the way they brand their products with logos, new campaigns, or slogans. The one thing that always remains the same is the essence of the brand. The core of your brand that people got to know should still remain unified across all your messaging. Take Apple for instance; they've changed the colors of their logo and the very nature of their products and their technology. But since their message of innovation and ingenuity in the industry has remained the same, consumers continue to recognize and trust the company.
Collaborate with larger brands
Another way to gain traction with your branding efforts is to align yourself with larger brands. This will not only gain your business attention but allow you to leverage their audience as well. This will not come in the blink of an eye; you'll have to network with industry professionals and create meaningful relationships with companies that you join forces with. Though it takes time, it will be well worth your efforts in the long run.
Respond to feedback
Keep in mind that what you think is great branding choices may not sit well with consumers. Make sure to ask for and listen to the feedback you get regarding your new campaigns, slogans, and logos. If it's not working for the customer, it will probably not result in sales.
Branding yourself online
The first thing you want to do when branding yourself is to create an online presence. There are many ways to execute this, with creating a website probably the most important. A website gives you your own space online to branch out with landing pages, company updates, connect your social media, feature videos, and gain media attention.
The more people can find you online, the more likely your brand will gain attention. Websites are a great way to feature your company journey and the reason you are a unique addition to the business world. Consumers crave authenticity, so making honesty and transparency a part of your brand will go a long way. Social media will also be very beneficial to your branding efforts, as each platform has a unique space for you to express a consistent message of your brand while having fun connecting with customers in comment threads or having giveaways.
Branding your business in person
If you are a brick-and-mortar store, you may be wondering how you can create a brand within a single location. The good news is, that is how most of the biggest brands in the world began. Take Starbucks for instance. Although a giant chain now, at their core they are presented as a high-end coffee shop where you can chat with friends or get some work done. Their locations are adorned with low lighting, leather seating, and your own barista. You even have your name written on your cup to feel like your experience is more personalized. While these may be things we are used to now, it was a revolutionary concept that skyrocketed them to success.
How can you execute this in your own business? Decide what you want to be known for and create this presence in your store. Maybe you use a signature scent that people recognize when they walk through your door, or you adopt a unique greeting that people know you for. If you can figure out how to deliver something to the consumer that is well known as being uniquely you, then you have begun to brand your location.
Affecting your bottom line
According to Deluxe, branding builds financial value for small businesses. “A strong brand usually guarantees future business. Whether a company is in the position to borrow funds for expansion or rolling out to an IPO, being perceived as more valuable will make the process advantageous for the owner of the payday loans online company."
Another benefit we haven't touched upon is the ability to inspire your employees, giving them a goal and purpose for their work. If your employees believe in what your company is doing, they're more inclined to work hard and stay loyal to your company.
Finally, generating new customers. Excellent branding will always attract the eye of potential customers. When people are looking for a new business to buy from, good branding will give you have the opportunity to establish yourself as a leader that consumers want to buy from.
Although branding seems like something more suited for big business, it is necessary for all businesses. As a small business, you have a unique opportunity to separate yourself from others and grow. Your goal for your business is from going from unrecognizable to unforgettable. It will also you a clear focus moving forward on what you want your company values to be, how you want to impact your customers and help you integrate yourself into your customer’s mind.