Mastering Branding for Small Business: From Basics to Authenticity
Branding is an important aspect of your business, be it big or small. But what is branding? Why should you care about branding? And does it affect small businesses? Are you a small business owner looking to make a big impact?
Look no further than branding! Study after study has shown that a strong brand can increase customer loyalty and trust, ultimately leading to higher sales and profits. And yes, branding is just as crucial for small businesses as it is for larger ones.
Don’t believe us? Just think about the brands that you love and trust. They all started small too. So don’t let your size hold you back. Invest in branding and watch your business blossom into something truly remarkable. Trust us, your customers will thank you. Start building your brand today.
What is branding?
Simply put, branding is your business’ image or rather the process of creating your business’ image. While also important, your brand is more than just your logo and reflects certain aspects of your business, from the quality of customer service, and the quality of your services or products to your business’s mission and ideals. Your brand also shows your customers what to expect from your products or services. It is who you are, and how you are perceived by current and prospective clients.
Why should you care?
So why is it important and why should you create and maintain your business’ brand? Whether you notice it or not, you already have a brand. People will make certain connotations based on your customer service, the quality of your products or services and how you deliver it to them, what your business’ ideals and morals are and the general vibe they get from you and your employees. Focusing on your branding gives you more control over how you are perceived, helps to get your business recognized by having a good and positive brand and gives you multiple opportunities to grow your business.
A good brand sets your business apart from competitors, and maintains customer loyalty.
We all know that companies such as Nike, Adidas, Apple, and Microsoft have strong brands. A lot of their prospective customers are generated by the brand image itself. If they did not put so much effort into creating and maintaining their brand, they might not have been where they are today.
The examples of brands I used are huge companies, so you might be thinking that it does not have much relevance to you and your company. Why should small businesses care about branding? Well, it is a rarity that you are the only business that sells a particular product or service.
Today consumers have so many options and you need to show what sets you apart from your competitors. Are your products or services high cost for great quality? Or are you affordable and trustworthy? Unfortunately, you cannot be everything to everyone and the sooner you create a good brand identity, the better. All companies started as small businesses, and neglecting your brand won’t help your business grow.
We are seeing a big increase in conscious consumers today. While that mostly pertains to environmentally conscious and sustainable products and services, I personally see it as much more. Prospective clients want to know more about you, about your business and they want to know that they are supporting a business that stands for something. Whether it is impeccable customer service, catering to a variety of subcultures or supporting ethical causes, this all ties into strong & authentic branding.
Tips on how to create a strong and authentic brand:
The first thing you can do, that might have the most immediate effect, is to get your physical branding sorted. How does your logo look? Does it look like a design that almost anyone could make on Microsoft Word? When your targeted audience pictures your business, the first thing they will see is your logo. It is the graphical representation of your business. Does it complement the colour scheme and font you are using? Is is too simple, or might it be too bold and busy?
Customers want to know that you have made an effort to make your logo, products, website and marketing material visually pleasing. A well-designed logo creates a good physical representation. Your logo doesn’t have to be 4 different colours with different graphic elements to it. Clean and simple elements are more likely to be enjoyed and remembered by current and prospective clients.
Keep your target audience in mind, are you targeting children & their parents or young females that might require a more colourful or striking logo? Or is your target audience directed towards adults and requires a more modern and sleek look? Whatever it is, remember not to make your branding materials and logo too complicated.
Figuring and sorting out your physical branding as soon as possible will avoid certain difficulties down the road. By choosing your business’ “theme” early, the logo, colour scheme, fonts and overall look of all your branded elements, you won’t be stuck with ads, marketing materials and packaging that is outdated. If you do not make sure that everything is unified you are diminishing the strength of the association they have with your brand. Remember to keep them organised and make back-ups of all your graphic designs and materials.
Great Customer Service
Reliable customer service is also another aspect that we have some control over. The ability to rate and review your products and services has increased dramatically with social media and web presence. By giving customers the platform to rate you, like on your website or Facebook page, you are making them feel like their opinions and experiences are being validated. Unfortunately, it is also very easy for a customer who felt offended by you or found your customer service inferior and unacceptable to do damage to your business’ reputation. But no one expects a business to receive 5 stars all the time, and it adds a lot of authenticity to your brand.
If you decide to give your customers this, please be sure to actually respond! A heartfelt thank you shows that you appreciate their business and testimony, and clearing up any misunderstandings and apologizing can also turn a negative review into a positive one. This will show that your business is eager to accommodate everyone and that you and your staff are mature.
A lot of people, myself included, would rather pay patronage to a business that has great customer service than a business that neglects it’s customers but offers cheaper products or services. We stereotype businesses just like we do with people, cold and inattentive customer service can do a lot of harm to your brand and reduce prospective customers.
While you might be hesitant towards agreeing, today’s consumers and customers are becoming increasingly conscious, whether it is environmentally, ethically or socially.
The Goodpurpose 2012 study showed that when quality and price are equal the leading purchase driver for 53 percent of consumers was social purpose. Some statistics show that 47 percent of global consumers buy brands that support a good cause at least monthly. 72 percent of consumers would recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that does not and 73% of consumers would switch brands if a different brand of similar quality supported a good cause. These numbers are only increasing.
People want to know that the businesses they support are trying to make a difference, so that indirectly, they are making a difference. Do you put emphasis on the fact that you are a local business? Do you reach out to your community? Does your company give a percentage of it’s profits to charity? Do you strive towards environmentally sustainable products? There are so many different ways you can go about making your business stand out by standing for something.
A great example of excellent branding is Creative Sense Graphic Design, a female empowered business. Not only do they place emphasis on being creative and authentic, but they also stand proud of their business’ values – hard work and honesty. Creative Sense offers complete branding services, including logo design, business card design, and company signage.
By choosing to create a brand that is authentic and strong, you are giving your customers the platform to relate to and engage with your business. You are creating loyal customers who will happily advocate for your business, helping you to acquire prospective customers.
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!