Nailing Your Small Business Branding

As a small business, you have the upper hand when it comes to your branding. You can start from scratch and create something off the bat that meets all of the needs of your business – and then some. 

Huge corporate brands are often looking at ways to look smaller and more authentic, like smaller brands. It is a coveted position to be in – but if you don’t make the most of it, it is a wasted opportunity. 

It is often the case that small businesses make the mistake of thinking branding is just about the logo or the colors used on the website – but it goes much deeper than that. 

There is a link between strong branding and successful businesses. In fact, you can probably name many of the most successful companies from their taglines, logo, or even a specific shade of red. 

Nailing your branding is something that can make a huge difference when it comes to your success. 

But where does great branding come from, and what should you be considering before you head to a design agency with your ideas? Keep in mind that you can bring many ideas to the table, but a design agency has in-house creatives to create incredible concepts. 

What is your brand identity?

Who are you, and what is it that you want to achieve? Your branding is how you are going to define yourself to the outside world. You can refer to it as your business identity – because really, it is. 

Your branding will incorporate your business ethos, values, and the core of your business purpose. Your strategy will define this as you move towards your final business branding. 

It covers. What your brand says, your values, how you explain your product, and how you want people to feel when they connect with it all make up your brand identity. In essence, your brand identity is your company’s personality and a commitment to your consumers.

Are there examples of solid branding?

An image here will be a good idea:

Photo by Alexey Mak on Unsplash

When branding is good – it is really good. Consider Nike, Apple, MacDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Google, and Supreme when you think about solid branding. 

Each of these brands has something that is unforgettable about their marketing materials, their ambassadors, or even the noise a tick would make. Swoosh. 

People identify with these companies, becoming part of a lifestyle, part of a generation. 

How can I build a strong brand?

There are many routes to create a strong brand that will move with the times – rather than stand the test of time. 

Definition

To zone in on your branding, you are going to need to answer a range of questions. What is it that your product or services offer the market? What makes your brand different? 

How can you use that to tap into the emotions that are related to brand loyalty? Keeping your customers at the forefront of your mind as you do this, how can you connect with them?

Define your offering, define your market

Nice to meet you

We are often building buyer personas – who buys from us, where they live, and how much they earn? But what about if we filled that around. 

If your business was a person – what would that look like? When it comes to the branding of your business, you are looking at how the brand will interact with others. 

The tone of voice, what is the brand personality? Think about as many of the facets of a personality as possible and add them to your research. 

Motivation 

There are several areas in the process that you will need to discover the motivation. Firstly you should look at your motivation as a business owner. 

Secondly, you can move on to the motivations of your business – what drives it? 

Thirdly, what is the motivation of your users to return or share your products and services? 

The motivation will typically stem from emotion, and that emotion can be leveraged within your branding. 

Tone of voice

The right tone of voice doesn’t just happen; it can take a while to find a tone of voice that really impacts your audience and feels authentic to the business too. 

What is a tone of voice?

It is important to note that in this case, the tone of voice doesn’t want you to say; it is what you write. It’s not what you say but how you say it that determines your tone of voice. This includes not just the words you select but also their placement, rhythm, and tempo. 

In the business world and marketing, the phrase ‘tone of voice’ refers to written – instead of spoken – words, which is misleading. Its tone of voice influences the tone of a company’s written material, including its website, social media posts, emails, and packaging.

The tone of voice will be unique to you. Think about how IKEA communicates in their marketing materials, and you are very close to unlocking why the tone of voice is essential when it comes to your branding. 

Loyalty

It is essential that within your branding, you are honest. The public appreciates authenticity, and they will understand the truth. When you are considering the future of your business, long-term customers are a must. 

It should be part of your mission that you are concerned with the long-term and building relationships with your audience. 

Everything you do within your branding should make you easy to love. You should feel accessible to your audience, quality, truthful and relatable. 

Remember that what you are selling is never your product. It is the lifestyle that the product offers.

Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash

Copycats are out

In the business world, no one likes a copycat. It isn’t a good look, and while you might initially get press and some customers of the other brands testing your product, they will most likely go back. 

It is often said that imitation is the best form of flattery, it could land you in hot water with the other company at a minimum, and it might see you and your business get canceled for failing to be authentic. 

One of the most important things about your branding is that you should be highlighting what makes you unique. You can’t highlight all that good stuff if you are too busy trying to copy someone else. 

Innovation

You don’t need to run in the same vein as others in your industry; in fact, most often is better if you don’t. As a small brand, you have something those big businesses don’t – complete flexibility. You can change and manipulate your branding to meet the needs of your customers as required. 

In a larger company, you will likely encounter many people that need to sign off on the decisions, and the longer that takes, the less agile you are. 

Don’t be afraid to be innovative with your branding and consider dynamic possibilities as a smaller company. 

Stay on brand

Once you start to have your branding ideas firmed up or have your branding created by a digital agency, you need to develop guidelines. These guidelines will offer you the support you need to ensure you and your team are always on-brand when communicating with your customers. 

If you are known for a specific language, colors, or availability – deviation from your branding can be catastrophic. 

Staying on-brand will mean that you will not dilute your brand, and your customers will know what to expect all the time. 

It’s more than a logo

While your logo will be on everything, it takes more than that to cement your branding truly. Although, you could always follow Reddit’s example and put your logo on stickers and start handing them out. This cheap marketing tactic paid off big-time. 

In general, though, your logo will be what encourages people to check out initially – and over time, it will be what you are known by. 

Branding isn’t a single thing – instead, it is everything about your company that makes it unique. It’s wrapped up in the most digestible and deliverable package and presented to consumers in the best way. 

Your branding will include: 

  • The logo
  • The color pallet you use
  • The fonts and typeface
  • All of the marketing materials
  • Your website design
  • The content you create and the message that you send
  • All of your packaging
  • The tone of voice

Your branding might be an organic endeavor, and it might be evident from the early stages what suits your company best. However, your branding might be a hard-fought project that has some hit-and-miss moments too. 

Building a strong brand isn’t something that happens quickly; it can often take place over the space of months. It has to feel right to the business owners and be tested with small groups. Small groups will be able to give you feedback that can change the trajectory of your business.

Are you in the early stages of creating your brand’s online presence? One of the most important places you can build is your website: Do It Yourself Website Design – Middletown Media.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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