When running a small business with low overhead and few resources, branding can be one of the most cost-effective methods in drumming up interest. And in case you were wondering, yes: every business, product and, organization is also its own brand!
So what is a brand, anyway? Although there is no clear-cut definition, there are a few characteristics that help define the term. A brand is a name, design, symbol, voice and messaging, or signature feature that individualizes an organization or product from its competitors in the eyes of the customer. Think: McDonald’s golden arches, TOMS Shoes’ ‘One for One’ business model, Apple’s iPhone.
According to LucidPress, consistent presentation of a brand increases revenue by 23% on average. That’s because branding doesn’t just help to set your business apart from the crowd. It also establishes authority, leads to greater transparency, communicates company values, and builds trust among your clientele. Branding is vital for your small business because it helps form lasting relationships with customers who share your ideals and want to associate themselves with your efforts.
If you can successfully develop a brand strategy, you will be able to grow your business and stand out from the crowd. Start by identifying your target audience. What type of individuals are you trying to reach? Defining your target audience will help you achieve your brand goals. Also ask yourself, “What need does my product solve? What are my audience’s buying habits, and how much would they be willing to pay?”
When you can answer those questions, it helps to shape a more effective brand strategy. Continue strengthening your brand by adhering to the following tips and experimenting with new ideas, including those below:
Invest in the Basics
● Naming Your Business – The name of your business is everything, as branding relies heavily on online referrals and word of mouth. Your name should be meaningful and easy to remember. Every word should be intentional – for example, you and your customers should know whether “The” is included in your official title, which characters are upper vs. lowercase, and whether it’s “and” or “&”.
● Designing a Logo – A large portion of your customers might assume your “brand” is one and the same as your logo, but this is not the case. Your “brand” is a combination of image, company behavior and market positioning. All of this determines how the general public perceives you — and your logo is a major part of this.
If redesigning or designing for the first time, choose your color scheme wisely, as color psychology plays an important role in peoples’ buying decisions. It will also dictate much of your marketing collateral and may even influence design choices in your offices or physical location.
● Building a Website – Your website is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. In this day and age, you have to have one to be taken seriously. A good website is informative, easy to navigate, and represents who you are as a brand.
Stay Consistent and Persistent with Your Brand Messaging
When it comes to relationship-building, 64% of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason for maintaining relationships with and loyalty to businesses. So how to communicate those values?
Your marketing strategy must include ways that your customers can get to know you. Not just your company name, but your staff, your story; why you got into business in the first place, and what you do differently than “those other guys”.
Beyond your name and logo, what does your brand voice sound like? Is it fun and playful, or professional and straight-forward? Scientific, engaging, inspirational or down-to-earth? Masculine or feminine; young or old – you decide!
Whichever you choose, be sure the tone is consistent through all channels of communication. That means both in-person and online, if applicable. It means that whoever writes your Website copy should mimic the voice of whoever writes your email copy; and your email copy should sound an awful lot like what’s written on your blog, printed marketing materials, and in-store signage.
The goal is a consistent experience that helps to clarify your brand persona. Work your branding (name, logo/imagery, and brand voice) through all touch-points. In marketing and promotions, all throughout the sales funnel, and even following a purchase. Slip a business card or thank you note in with online orders, and send in-store customers home with their purchase in gift bags custom printed with your logo.
Forge Real Connections with Your Customers
Identify channels that work with your strategic plan so that you can engage with current and potential customers on a more personal level. This may include a code of conduct for greeting and assisting visitors in-store, or setting expectations with customer service when chatting online, via email or phone.
Though social media can be a great asset to establishing and growing your community, know that relationships with customers are built on interaction and activity – not daily posts. Responding to your customers in a professional and friendly manner will make them feel better about your brand. Conversely, it’s important to know how much communication is too much: more than 50% of consumers expect brands to know when the right moments are to reach out with an email, push notification or social media message.
Identify and Appoint Brand Influencers
Do you have a few loyal customers who would be interested in receiving free merchandise in exchange for increasing awareness of your brand in their social circles? People trust peer reviews and view influencer marketing to be more authentic than traditional marketing tactics. There are many benefits to building a community of brand enthusiasts:
1. Appointing brand influencers will help you engage with your customers. Their entire persona revolves around their audience, meaning you’ll gain precious intel into how people think and talk about your business, products/services, and the problems your business helps to solve.
2. Influencers will talk about the brand, interact with their audience, and spread the word about your business offerings.
3. Another reason to appoint brand influencers is their transparency. Finding an influencer who believes in your brand will drive traffic to your site and provide meaningful insights about your product or service.
Track, Measure, and Test Branding Efforts
Measuring your branding efforts is no easy task. However, it’s important to figure out if the tactics involved in your branding strategies are actually working or need tweaking.
Some of the best tools to use for tracking include Google Analytics, customer surveys, and social media metrics. There are a vast variety of different tools you can use to track your business depending on your product or service. Monitoring your branding campaign will help your small business develop future branding strategies.
Give Them Something Pleasantly Unexpected
People (61% of them, in fact) love to be pleasantly surprised by experiences offered by businesses. ‘Surprise-and-Delight’ efforts can be as simple as honoring outdated coupons, like Bed, Bath & Beyond. It could be as novel as anticipating and delivering on a need that the customer didn’t even realize you could service.
Here are a few successful ideas: NYC nail studio Paintbox has a photobooth for taking professional nail pics after getting a manicure. The YMCA provides free childcare services for busy parents. Ulta is known for giving their members incredibly generous birthday gifts each year. Surprises don’t have to be costly, though – a free drink or dessert when out to eat can go a long way towards earning a loyal new patron.
You can easily find a way for your small business to do something pleasantly unexpected, either in-store or online. Start by giving away something small for free at checkout, without promoting it ahead of time… and see where that takes you!
Learn from Your Branding Failures
Whatever you do in your branding campaign, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Developing a strong brand doesn’t happen overnight. Learn from your mistakes, the mistakes of others, and know when to pivot. Always be testing, tracking, and pushing the envelope, taking calculated risks as needed. Amidst the various tactics and strategies, remember that the key to building a strong brand for your small business is to listen to and serve the customer first.
Call us, the Promo Know-How people and let us guide you in the right direction when marketing your small business.