Building a Brand for your Small Business
So you’ve started a business – you’ve decided on your business name, the products or services you will offer and maybe even had a think about your logo. But have you thought about how you will communicate your business identity to your potential customers?
Branding encompasses everything from your logo, website, tagline and packaging, to your core values and interaction with customers and suppliers. Your brand is the first thing someone thinks of when they hear your name, so it is important to get it right from the start.
Think of big companies like Coca Cola, McDonalds, Apple and Nike. They have all achieved successful branding strategies through not only strong associations to colours, symbols and sounds but also through using a consistent tone and staying true to their brand values.
Establishing a branding strategy is extremely important as it communicates and delivers your message, and helps to differentiate your business from your competitors’. Not only this, but a strong brand helps customers in knowing what to expect and therefore, will generate referrals and increase brand loyalty.
So how do you go about building your brand and establishing your branding strategy? Here are some tips and tricks:
Identify and clarify
Start off by reviewing your products and services and identifying what you are good at and what you want your business to be known for. Think about what makes your business unique and what your story or mission is. Have a look back to your business values, created in your business plan, and determine the emotive and rational needs of your customers in order to create that connection with the brand.
Defining your brand is often the most difficult part but once completed you can begin to piece together your branding strategy.
Now that you’ve defined your brand you should have an idea of what you want your logo and tagline or slogan to be. There are hundreds of graphic designers that can draw up a logo based on your brand identity and your vision. Outsourcing a designer or company is as easy as a quick google search but make sure to have a look through their portfolio beforehand to avoid disappointment.
A slogan or tagline is a memorable phase that is often used in marketing/advertising alongside your logo. Your tagline or slogan should be short, succinct and memorable. It should explain what your brand is about in just a few words and should not be common or generic.
Here are some great examples:
- Energizer: Keeps going and going and going
- Jaguar: Don’t dream it. Drive it
- Nikon: At the heart of the image
- Lay’s Potato Chips: Betcha can’t eat just one
Once you’ve established your logo and tagline/slogan, you can begin to brand your various corporate and marketing materials, including your website, social media pages, business cards, letterheads, packaging, uniforms, signage, brochures/flyers, and even your company car.
If you’ve hired a designer to create your logo they may be able to create these designs, otherwise don’t forget to keep it consistent by using the same colour scheme, font and logo placement throughout.
Your company “voice” is the language and personality with which your brand “speaks.” This voice should be applied to all written and spoken communication, including your website, social media posts and even the way in which your employees answer the phone.
Having a consistent voice will help to reinforce your business identity and inform your customers of what to expect from your brand.
One of the most important tips in building a strong brand is to stay true and keep your promises. The purpose of establishing a strong brand is to build long term relationships with your customers by being honest and creating trust. Never overpromise as high expectations are harder to meet and exceed.
In order to have an effective branding strategy it is important to have consistent branding across various online platforms, such as your website and social media networks. Try not to confuse your customers – use the same logo and slogan across all channels, as well as a similar “voice” or tone. The branding should be the same, however you may need to tailor your content and message to suit the individual audiences/users of your various platforms. For example, your customers may be checking Facebook for daily specials and upcoming promotions, whereas they may prefer to receive information about new products or upcoming events via email.
Taking the time to build a brand, as opposed to simply creating a business and selling a product/service will set you apart from your competitors and safeguard your long-term business success.