You might assume that branding is something best left to the Apples, Googles, and McDonalds of the world as a small business owner. But the reality is that regardless of how large (or tiny!) our firm is, if you're in business, you need to think about branding.
Larger businesses have more money to spend on branding. However, you don't need an Apple-sized money account to start from scratch with a successful branding plan. There are many things you can do to help your business stand out, attract clients' attention, and leave a lasting impression on them without breaking the bank.
Let's look at five branding methods that will help you grow your small business. Here's how you can brand your company:
1. Establish your brand's identity.
Branding is more than slapping a logo on your website. Your branding is who you are as a company; it's your values and goal, how you treat your customers, and how your visual assets appear and feel. So, before you can go on to the more practical aspects of your branding strategy (like developing your logo), you must first figure out who you are as a business—or, in other words, your brand identity.
The procedure is divided into many steps:
Discover who you are.
It's fantastic if you already know who you are as a brand, but it's also OK if you don't. It's just time for some corporate soul-searching.
Deeper inquiries might help you understand out who you are as a brand, as well as who you aspire to be. When creating your brand identity, consider the following questions:
· What three words would I use to describe my company if I had to?
· In the marketplace, what do I want to be known for?
· What are the primary missions and values of my company?
· What type of impact do I want to have in my field?
The more you know about who you are and what you stand for, the easier it will be to incorporate that identity into your branding—and the more your brand will stand out and attract consumers as a consequence.
Determine who your target market is.
It may seem simple, but many small companies are so focused on figuring out who they are and what sorts of products or services they want to provide that they entirely overlook figuring out who they're trying to sell those products or services to—and as a result, their branding suffers.
Spend some time defining your ideal client. What are their names? What are their ages? What is their level of income and education? Is there a predominance of one gender? What qualities do they want in the firms with whom they do business? What is important to them? When do they intend to utilize your product or service, and why do they require it?
When you know who your target market is, you can use that information to influence your branding approach, resulting in a brand that actually resonates with the people you want to engage with.
Create your POD (or "special sauce" brand)...
Chances are, whatever your company does, there are already other businesses doing the same thing. So, if you want your company to stand out, you must first determine what makes it unique.
Your point of difference is the feature that distinguishes your company from the competition (or POD). Your POD is what makes you unique; it's what makes a consumer pick your company over your rivals to do business with—and it should be included into every aspect of your branding approach.
It's not necessary for your POD to be revolutionary. Consider it this way: if your company is a Big Mac, your POD is the "special sauce" that distinguishes you from the competition. Do you solely utilize ingredients that are ethically produced in your products? Are you known for having the greatest customer service in the industry? Has your family owned and operated a business that has been serving the community for several generations? Whatever it is, discover out what makes your company unique—and include that POD into your brand identity.
But also figure out what's working in your field.
You want your logo to stand out and be unique. However, if you want to have the most successful branding approach, you'll need to keep an eye on what's working (and what isn't) in your business.
Take a look at what your competitors are up to. Do you see any patterns? Let's imagine you're starting a new financial consulting firm, and you see that all of your rivals' logos have neutral color palettes, or that all of their marketing efforts are focused on Facebook rather than Instagram. While you (obviously) don't want to copy or rip off your rivals' branding, keeping track of industry trends might help you figure out what's appealing to your target market.
2. Make your branding more graphic.
It's time to start developing your brand after you've identified who you are, who your consumers are, what makes you unique, and what's working in your sector. This phase is just as important for small firms as it is for larger corporations.
Here are a few items you'll need to build your brand's look and feel:
· A style guide for your brand. It's crucial to work out the finer points of your design strategy, such as your brand's color palette, typefaces, and design do's and don'ts, before you start developing. A brand style guide is a wonderful method to keep track of design elements and ensure that you, your designer, and anybody else working on your brand are all on the same page.
· It's a logo. Your logo is the face of your business; it's the first thing most people see when they come across your brand, and it's the visual asset that will be most strongly associated with your firm. Your logo should be the first thing you design since it will serve as the starting point for everything else.
· Business cards are a type of business card. You'll need a business card if you're in business, and the design should match your logo and other design elements.
· A web page. Your website is like a piece of digital real estate for your firm, and the look and feel should be consistent with the rest of your branding when people visit it.
Additional branding elements (such as product packaging or corporate letterhead) may be required depending on your business, but the most essential thing to remember? The appearance, feel, and style of your brand should be consistent no matter where a customer sees it—whether it's via seeing your logo, visiting your website, or trying out one of your items in person. When it comes to branding, if you're not consistent, you risk confusing your customers—and if they're confused, you risk losing them to the competition.
3. Use the correct material to establish oneself as a subject matter expert.
You may not have a large advertising budget as a small firm. However, you don't have to spend millions of dollars on advertising to get in front of the correct individuals. Content marketing is a better, easier, and more cost-effective approach to get your name out there.
Content marketing is effective on a variety of ways. First, it allows you to demonstrate your industry experience; by establishing yourself as a go-to resource and subject matter expert in your sector, your audience will learn to trust you—and you'll be the first firm they think of doing business with when the time comes.
Content marketing is also a good tactic since it allows you to improve your brand image. You emphasize who you are and what you're about to your consumers by building a strong brand voice (and then carrying that brand voice across your content), which improves the relationship and helps to drive business.
And if you still need a reason why content marketing is so successful for small businesses, consider this: It's cost-effective, so even if you're on a tight budget, you can make content work for you.
The correct content is the key to success when employing content as a marketing tactic. Conduct research to determine the types of queries your consumers are posing, and then develop content to address their concerns.
Let's imagine you run a small bakery and, after doing some research, you discover that your clients are looking for bread-making recipes and tips. You might make a branded blog post or video that explains the fundamentals of bread baking, including the science behind it, the ingredients you'll need, and how to get the right rise and crust. That type of material is really valuable to your audience, so when the time comes for them to go out and purchase bread (because, let's face it, no one wants to make their own bread all of the time), you'll be the first place they go.
The idea is that your consumers want and need to know a lot of information about your sector. And if you can provide value and address their questions through your content, you'll earn their trust, which will lead to more business.
4. Seek out chances for collaboration.
People like to conduct business with well-known brands. However, if you're a new company, developing trust might take some time. But what if there was a way to speed things up? Look for ways to collaborate with other companies that your customers currently use.
Consider it trust building by proxy: if your consumers are exposed to your brand through a brand they already know and trust, they'll be far more inclined to extend that trust to you—and give you their business as a consequence.
What is the secret to this strategy's success? Finding clients with similar—but non-competitive—audiences is a good way to start. As an example, suppose you're releasing a new energy bar aimed towards endurance athletes. Consider partnering with local events to put your bars in their prize bags, leaving samples at local running stores, or writing guest articles on famous endurance blogs. All of those businesses cater to the same demographic as you—endurance athletes—but none of them are direct rivals, making them considerably more eager to collaborate with you.
5. Act like a hero to your consumers.
It's not enough to speak the talk in today's hyper-competitive market; you must also live the walk.
It's not only about your logo, marketing methods, or how you catch customers' attention; it's also about what you do once you've made a connection with them. The most crucial aspect of your branding is your reputation, as well as what consumers say behind your back.
As a result, if you want to thrive in the long run, you must become a superhero for your clients and make customer service your top priority.
Consider that for a moment. What better way to make a name for yourself than by offering the best possible service to your customers? If your consumers have a pleasant experience with your brand every time they connect with it, they'll keep coming back—and telling their friends about it.
One thing to remember is that customer service encompasses more than just one encounter or department. If you genuinely want to live and breathe customer service, you must continually provide your consumers a pleasant experience no matter how, when, or why they connect with your company.
Look for ways to improve the customer experience in your company. Is it difficult to make a purchase on your website? Redesign the layout to make it more user-friendly for your consumers. Is it difficult to return something? To make the procedure easier and more easy, provide them with a pre-paid return label and explicit instructions. The key is that the better your client experience is, the more you'll be regarded as a leader.
Begin implementing your branding approach.
You don't have to spend a fortune to properly brand your company. All you'll need is a little imagination and some good, old-fashioned grit.
What's left to do now that you've learned how to properly (and affordably!) brand your small business? Get out there and start branding yourself!
Salty Red Dog Marketing, LLC is a marketing agency in Red Bank, NJ, Westport, CT, and everywhere in between. We service businesses with marketing strategies, digital marketing, social media, and consultations.
Phone: NJ: (732) 802-6205 // CT: (203) 429-9671