Branding for a Small Business: Do’s and Don’ts
Branding for a small business can create more growth by taking a wholistic approach to communication with their customer base.
Image by pikisuperstar on Freepik
Contrary to popular belief, branding isn’t reserved only for large organizations. Small businesses can also embrace branding to create an identity that resonates with existing and potential customers.
Branding is more about a business approach designed for a specific audience than it is about designing individual elements. For example, it’s imperative to understand your target audience and what you want people to remember when they think about your organization. This can cover everything from colors and images you use in marketing materials and physical locations to personalized messages you send customers in emails.
This article will look at how you should approach branding for a small business as well as what you should avoid.
Define Your Brand Identity
Your brand identity encompasses many things, including your target audience, products and services, logos, social media presence, and so on. It would help if you considered beginning by understanding where you are currently and what you intend to achieve and moving on from there.
It’s also crucial to understand your customers in detail, including their demographics. This way, you’ll be better positioned to create a brand that resonates with them.
1. Create a Brand Guide and Standards
A brand guideline specifies things, such as the colors you want your audience to identify with, logos, etc. It’s also crucial to define your voice and tone and keep it consistent at all times. Branding standards help you maintain the same level of quality with all your branding channels and messages. This helps employees and customers know for sure that the message originates from your organization.
2. Focus on Core Values
The core values should be the building block of your organization. They by far surpass the logo and colors synonymous with your organization. A change in the visual elements, such as colors, shouldn’t change customers’ perception of your brand. A good example is Google which regularly changes its logos but remains an authority in the technology industry.
3. Create a Visual Identity for Your Brand
You must create an image that will help customers identify your organization whenever they think of particular colors or come across your logo. You should consider working with an experienced graphic designer if you don’t have the skills required to create a logo. It starts with the branding design, which guides the logo colors.
Business cards should also reflect your chosen color combinations to complement the company’s logo.
Create an Online Presence
Businesses that want to keep up with or outdo the competition should consider establishing an online presence. There are many ways to achieve this. For starters, you can establish a blog. Consider churning content that’s relevant to your target audience.
You can also use different social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok, to attract existing and potential customers. Nowadays, most people turn to the internet whenever they are looking to purchase goods and or services. You cannot downplay the importance of a strong online presence in today’s world. You should consider hiring a writer if you’re unsure how to do it yourself.
Make Your Customers Feel Special
There’s stiff competition everywhere, regardless of the goods or services you offer your customers. You will only win them over by making them feel they matter whenever you interact with them. Answer any questions they may have to the best of your abilities. Also, remember to answer and react to any comments or queries they leave on your website and various social media platforms.
And it’s not just about the human experience. Your customers should feel special whenever they interact with your website. This can only happen when you hire experienced UX designers. It can feel like you’re breaking your budget, but it can potentially increase your revenue when done properly.
Research Your Competition
You heard that right. You will only compete with or outdo your competition by understanding what you’re up against.
For example, it may help to understand what type of colors are synonymous with the industry you primarily serve. However, you should only borrow a leaf and aim to create a brand that stands out from the crowd to give customers to choose you, not the competition. You should create a strong brand differentiation to help your customers identify you regardless of whether they are shopping online or in a physical store.
Find a Brand Voice
It’s not enough to create strong brand awareness. It’s also equally important to develop a brand voice depending on your target audience. With that being said, you should remember to keep it formal and friendly. Your brand voice can either make or break your brand positioning.
Create a Brand Story
The brand story shouldn’t come about from the blues. It can help to be deliberate and start by brainstorming some ideas and narrowing them down. The story should be relatable to your target audience. When done properly, it will attract the right kind of customers.
The bottom line should be why you started your organization. It can help to have a social element. For example, did you start your company to help the less fortunate, and what are some of the values you abide by?
Branding is a Continuous Undertaking
If you want customers to identify with your brand, developing strategies to keep improving your brand awareness is imperative. Keep an eye out for customers’ recommendations and criticism to help you improve on certain aspects of your branding.
Change is inevitable, but it’s not always easy. You may have established a logo that customers identify with, and it’s easy to feel safe then, but you should consider borrowing a leaf from some of the world’s biggest brands. For example, Coca-Cola keeps changing its logo to appeal to its loyal customers.
Create a Community of Followers
Thanks hugely to social media, you can create a community of followers, and you don’t have to spend much money while doing it. You can then request them politely to leave positive reviews, which helps attract more customers.
Creating a community of followers can also help inspire confidence in your brand among your customers. Moreover, it also avails an opportunity to demonstrate how a product works by publishing content, uploading tutorials, and having a one-on-one question-and-answer session.
Customers Should be Your Top Priority
It’s easy to lose focus on keeping up with the competition and forget the most important aspect of any business; the customers. Your primary focus should be offering the highest quality of goods and or services. Once this is achieved, you’re halfway to building a successful brand because satisfied customers will act as your ambassadors and give you referrals.
What are the Branding Don’ts You Need to be Aware of?
1. Underestimating the Power of Branding
It’s always easy to downplay the role of branding for your organization. However, if you want to keep up with the competition or outdo them, it’s imperative to have branded as one of the strategies to build customer awareness. It has been shown that branding can increase revenue by up to 33%.
2. Don’t Have Only One Logo
Consider having different logos for your different branding purposes. For example, it can help to consider using a different logo for your website than what you use on different products. This comes in handy in creating brand versatility.
3. Don’t Design a Brand for Yourself
Instead, you should have customers at the back of your mind. First things first, you should invest in knowing your customers by conducting customer research. Knowing your ideal customer helps you set the tone when choosing the colors and channels to use for branding.
4. Don’t Follow Trends
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different branding methods as long as you increase brand awareness. It’s not just about hopping from one branding method to another. The key is being consistent, and you’ll surely see tangible results.
5. Focus on the Result Rather than the Solution
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself how you’ll feel if you’re using the particular goods or services you’re offering. It can help to identify the problem your customers are looking to solve and offer goods or services to solve the problem.
6. Avoid Taking Shortcuts
It’s understandable for businesses to try to minimize expenditure to increase revenue. However, this shouldn’t be at the expense of offering high-quality goods or services. This also applies to the strategies you put in place to improve your brand awareness. Aim to be an innovator instead of blindly following what your competitors are doing.
An effective branding strategy shouldn’t be easy. Instead, it should push you to get out of your comfort zone and work twice as hard.
7. Less is More
Make it simple enough for your customers to differentiate your brand from your competitors. This should be cut across all branding mediums, including business cards and logos.
Moreover, the message you’re trying to communicate through your branding should be general. Far from it, speaking directly to your target audience would be best. Aim to be an authority in your industry rather than a generalist.
8. Don’t Plan for Tomorrow- Think Long-term
Avoid branding for the here and now unless you want to spend extra cash doing another rebrand down the road. It can help to have both short-term and long-term goals, but the primary focus should be building the brand to withstand the test of time.
However, you should leave some space for the brand image to evolve because we all know change is inevitable.
9. Don’t Rush the Process
Take it in stride and learn from your mistakes and those of others. Branding is a long-term strategy and requires you to exercise a lot of patience. Building your brand is a learning curve to learn about your customers and how much pressure you can handle.
Rushing the process achieves the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve; it will be difficult for your audience to identify with your brand because it results in a brand that doesn’t meet the desired goals and outcomes.
Why is Branding Important?
Now that we’ve understood the do’s and don’ts of branding let’s look at why it’s important. For starters, it helps customers know what to expect for buying your goods or services. It’s crucial for your branding to remind customers of uplifting experiences. Otherwise, they may end up looking elsewhere the next time they are looking for goods or services. It’s especially important to understand this process for branded apparel and swag. Research has shown that most customers prefer buying goods or services from reputable brands. This means that you’re losing out on crucial business if customers don’t know about your brand.