Small Business Branding: Why is Branding Important & How to Get Started
How does branding affect small businesses? What are the benefits of consistent branding? How to choose branding elements? Continue reading to learn all about branding.
Customers today have a multitude of options when it comes to choosing who they do business with. In a sea of competitors, it can be quite challenging for small business owners to make a difference online, even with a great product or service. Without a doubt, to stack the odds in your favor, you need a good small business branding strategy.
With effective branding, you can create a unique, memorable identity that differentiates your business from the competition and leaves a lasting impression on your audience. But how do you build a compelling brand that resonates with your target audience? Let’s explore the importance of small business branding and the practical tips that will help you get started.
- A strong brand identity helps small businesses differentiate themselves from competitors and build trust, loyalty and emotional connection with customers.
- Branding and marketing are distinct concepts, and while the former shapes a business’s identity and perception, the latter helps introduce the identity.
- Consistently infusing brand elements across marketing materials and channels can help establish a cohesive and memorable brand presence.
What is brand identity and how does it affect small businesses?
Brand identity refers to the visual, verbal and experiential elements that define a brand and shape how the target audience perceives it. It encompasses tangible aspects like the logo, colors and messaging, and intangible elements like the brand vision and values.
Think of brand identity as the appearance and personality of a business. Just like how you can recognize someone by their unique features or way of dressing, a brand’s identity helps people identify and remember that business among many others in the market.
When a brand has a strong identity, it becomes easier for people to recognize and connect with it. And how is this achievable? Using strategic branding guidelines.
Branding encompasses the strategic activities that help create and manage a recognizable brand identity. It’s like creating a roadmap to ensure your small business is well-known, has a compelling brand story and has a good reputation among customers.
One popular brand that exemplifies the concept of branding is Apple. Apple’s strong reputation and loyal customer base are a testament to the power of effective branding in establishing an original and trusted presence in the market.
Through consistent messaging, iconic product designs and a commitment to user experience, Apple has successfully built a reputation for delivering innovative and intuitive gadgets. Unsurprisingly, today, Apple is one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
That said, great branding is not exclusive to larger companies like Apple, Amazon or Nike. Small business owners can also benefit from an effective brand strategy. Whether you host a podcast, sell socks or offer business consultancy services, strong branding can help you scale.
Benefits of branding for small businesses
Like larger businesses, small businesses can benefit from implementing branding strategies in the following ways.
- Establish credibility: Branding creates consistency across the entire customer experience. When people see the same logo, colors and messaging everywhere they interact with your business, they’re more likely to trust you.
- Gain a competitive edge: By establishing a unique and recognizable identity that differentiates them from the competition, small businesses can stand out and attract more customers.
- Enhance customer loyalty: When the audience feels connected to a brand’s origin story and identity, it inspires an emotional bond that drives repeat purchases and long-term advocacy.
- Command premium pricing: Branding creates differentiation, which increases perceived value. As a result, small businesses can justify higher prices as customers are more willing to pay for the assurance of a reputable brand.
Branding vs. marketing
So what role does marketing play in all this, and how is it different from branding? It’s easy to confuse marketing with branding due to their interconnected nature and overlapping activities. However, they are quite distinct concepts.
Think of branding as the foundation for all marketing efforts, defining the business’s core identity and forming the basis of its reputation. Marketing is the pathway that introduces people to this identity.
So, while branding shapes a brand’s identity and perception, marketing utilizes those brand elements to drive customer awareness, generate leads and ultimately drive sales through tactics like advertising.
How to build a successful marketing strategy
Having a digital marketing strategy for your business is like embarking on a journey with a roadmap. Just as a roadmap guides travelers to their destination, a well-crafted business or ecommerce marketing strategy can keep your small business on track, help you make informed decisions and ultimately lead you to your destination – intended business objectives.
Let’s discuss some steps you should take to improve your chances of success.
Step 1: Define your brand
Having a well-defined brand sets the foundation for all your marketing efforts. With a strong and consistent brand image, it’s easier to market your small business, as potential customers will be more likely to notice and remember you.
Start by answering a few questions to establish your brand perception and positioning:
- What is the purpose of your business?
- What do you do differently?
- What emotions or associations do you want your brand to evoke?
Your answers should articulate the essence of your business and serve as a framework for positioning your business in the way you want to be perceived by your target market.
Step 2: Identify your target audience
Once you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to determine your target market. This is the group of individuals most likely interested in and responsive to your products or services.
If you already have existing customers, examine your customer base to uncover insights into their demographics, behaviors and preferences.
Alternatively, look into your closest competitors and profile their customers. Analyzing online reviews, feedback and comments can offer valuable insights into your competitor’s customer base.
By understanding your intended target audience, you’ll be well-equipped to create targeted ad campaigns that resonate with it.
Step 3: Pinpoint your values
Your brand values are the core principles and beliefs that drive your business. They can encompass various aspects, such as integrity, sustainability, inclusivity, social responsibility or any other principles integral to your brand’s mission and purpose.
Having values you stand for is particularly important because they provide a sense of purpose and direction that influences your actions in the market. Many big businesses know this and represent their values strategically in their marketing efforts.
For example, Patagonia, an ecommerce brand that sells outdoor apparel and gear, is a popular brand with a core value of environmental sustainability evident through its eco-friendly practices and support for environmental causes.
Today, Patagonia is recognized as the most respected brand due to its commitment to a clean environment. Using this example, small brands can also align their actions, messaging and business practices with their core values to build trust and foster strong customer connections.
Step 4: Clarify your brand voice
A brand voice refers to the tone and style of communication a business uses to convey its message in the market. By creating a distinct brand voice, you can connect with the audience on a deeper level and make your brand more easily identifiable and memorable.
Let’s illustrate this better with an example. Airbnb is an online accommodation rental platform that has built a voice of inclusivity, personalization and a sense of belonging.
They emphasize the idea that anyone can belong anywhere and use it across their marketing communications alongside warm and inviting tones to convey a sense of comfort and community. Through this, Airbnb differentiates itself from traditional accommodation companies and resonates with its target audience of travelers seeking authentic and personalized experiences.
So, to clarify your brand voice, you need to first define your brand personality and values. As well as the value your business brings to customers. Then consider the tone, language and communication style that best reflects your brand identity.
Step 5: Develop brand elements and create assets
Brand elements, such as logos, color schemes, typography and imagery, are the key elements that give brands a unique visual identity. They’re an important aspect of making a brand easier to differentiate from the competition.
For instance, once you see a curved checkmark-like logo on a sportswear product, you can immediately tell it belongs to Nike. Not Adidas, Puma or its other competitors.
Consider the following brand elements as you establish a unique and memorable brand presence.
- Logo: A logo that embodies your brand identity is essential for customers to easily identify you. So, make sure to create a distinct and memorable logo design that you can easily adapt in different sizes and formats to promote your brand across multiple marketing channels. If you do not yet have a recognizable identifier, this might be the time to create a new logo that better fits your marketing strategies.
- Color palette: Colors are an aspect of a brand’s visual identity that makes it recognizable, especially when used consistently across various brand touchpoints. Select brand colors that best evoke the emotions you want to be associated with.
- Typography: Another important component of a brand’s visual identity is typography. The fonts you choose should reflect your brand personality, whether it’s professional, playful, elegant or modern.
- Visuals: Photographs, illustrations and graphic elements help communicate your brand story. Focus on using relevant images that convey the essence of your brand.
Step 6: Build a website
Once you’ve established a unique brand identity following the steps above, all that’s left to do is launch your brand online to drive sales for your products or services. Continue reading here to learn why exactly your business needs a website.
A website serves as the digital storefront of your business, where your target customers can learn more about your brand and engage with it. Here, an opportunity arises to create differentiation and communicate what makes you unique – starting with your web design.
Your website should feature your brand’s visual elements, such as your logo, colors and typography. You also want your web copy to reflect your brand personality and values. Altogether, this creates consistency and reinforces your overall brand identity, giving a lasting positive impression to web visitors.
Tip: Do not forget to update branding as your business or ecommerce website scales.
Step 7: Set up social media profiles
Nearly 5 billion people across the world use social media. Needless to say, by creating accounts on popular social media platforms, you can reach a wider audience and build awareness for your brand.
However, as you create social media posts to attract new customers and engage existing ones, it’s important to align your social media content with your brand personality and values to establish strong brand recognition.
Step 8: Include branding in advertising
One way to improve the effectiveness of your advertising efforts is to incorporate branding in your ad content. This works for two reasons.
First, branding highlights what makes your business unique, which helps cut through the noise and capture the audience’s attention.
Secondly, branding builds trust and credibility. When you consistently integrate branding elements such as your logo, colors and messaging into your advertising campaigns, you’re creating the perception that you’re professional and reliable, increasing the likelihood of people taking the desired action.
Build your business brand with WAcademy’s FREE web design services
Driving long-term success online requires reinforcing a strong brand image that customers can easily recognize and remember.
At WAcademy, we understand the importance of branding. We know that branding can make or break a business identity, and so our interns work hard to make sure our clients’ branding stands out. Take a look at some of the branding projects led by our amazing interns.
Branding is also a crucial aspect in web design. This is why we make sure to infuse branding elements like style direction, a color palette, fonts and, of course, a logo – the face of your brand that instantly captures recognition – in the site design process.
The best part is our web design services are 100% free. To facilitate high-quality training for our web design interns, we partner with SMEs (small and medium enterprises) who wish to build websites.
In return for real-life projects that we can supply to our interns, we do not charge for design services. In this mutually beneficial relationship, a small business owner gets a custom-made professional website, and our intern gains practical experience and builds a professional portfolio.
To ensure our clients with small businesses can further cut costs, we have partnered with Getspace, a company that provides a comprehensive hosting package with a domain name, Elementor Pro license, professional email inboxes and more.
Ready to create your brand strategy and deliver it via your new website? Contact us, and our team will help you establish your brand and build the site of your dreams!
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