You’ve got a small business and you may be wondering, “should small businesses worry about branding?” In today’s competitive marketplace, every business, no matter how small, should worry about branding. Your brand is what sets you apart from your competitors. You may all be selling the same product or service, but successful branding will give you brand recognition, and consistently delivering on your brand’s promise will help you build brand loyalty.
Steps to Branding Your Business
If you’re just starting your company, now is the best time to focus on branding your business. Get it right from the beginning. Even if you’ve been in business for years, now may be the time to reevaluate your brand and how it’s helping—or hurting—your business. Branding is a process, and requires a number of steps to get where you want your business to go (and grow.)
Some of the steps include:
- Choose a name. You want to choose a name for your business that’s relevant to what you do, and easy to remember. Don’t get too focused on being clever. You want potential customers to easily recall your name, and know exactly what you do. You may want to read a recent blog, What’s In a Name? for some helpful tips.
- Develop your voice. What we mean by this is let your personality and your core values shine through in all you do. Are you creative? Are you dedicated to providing the best customer service? Be sure that the face you’re putting forward is consistent with your values and goals. This includes communications through your website, your social media, your print communications, the way your employees answer the phone, the way you interact with customers in the field – every interaction needs to have that consistent voice. Customers often choose a service provider based on the personality they project.
- Consider your brand promise. Your brand promise can set you apart from your competitors. Do you promise the highest quality products? The most affordable pricing? Same day installation? Proven results? Tell prospective customers how you are different from your competitors, and why that’s important.
- Know your target audience. You will never be all things to all people. Think about who your ideal customer is, and tailor your brand promise accordingly. Your tagline can include your brand promise. Think Walmart – Save Money. Live Better.
- Choose a logo design and use it everywhere. Work with a professional to develop a memorable logo design, and use it on your website, social media, your advertising, your business cards, contracts, vehicle fleet, employee uniforms and hats – you get the picture. Your logo is key to brand recognition, and may be the first thing a customer notices.
- Get a website. Again, use a professional web design company, and don’t depend on your cousin’s daughter to deliver a website that you can be proud of. A business website shows your customers you’re a serious company they can trust. Not having a website can cost you customers, because the majority of Americans today do internet research before deciding what products or services to buy.
- Invest in marketing your brand. Marketing tools such as a website, SEO, social media channels, print marketing and email marketing should all use your logo, and be consistent in your message.
- Work with professionals. We know money is tight for a business just starting out. But investing in quality logo design, website design and branding services will pay dividends for years to come.
- Be consistent. You need to deliver on your brand promise consistently. Everyone in your business should be on the same page, following the same core values. Your message should be consistent as well, on your website, on social media and in person. Use the same logo consistently. You don’t want to confuse people. And consistency pays off, as customers know what to expect from you.
- Stay true to your values. Your core values are who you are, and that extends to your company. Don’t cut corners to save a buck, don’t mislead customers, and don’t disparage others.
Branding helps your business stand out in the crowd. Your brand should highlight the qualities that make you their top choice among similar service providers. Delivering on your brand promise once a client chooses you will build your credibility as a business. When customers connect with your products or services emotionally because of superior service or results, they are more likely to recommend you to others.
Do You Need a Brand Refresh?
So, let’s say you’ve already been in business a while, but your company or organization is not doing as well as you would like. Or maybe your company’s products and services have changed. It may be time for a brand refresh. This is not reinventing the wheel, but is more like cleaning house. Clear out the clutter, but keep what is still working and valuable. Update the things that are outdated, and tweak other parts of the branding. Your core values remain the same, but how you present your brand to prospective clients needs to change as the marketplace and your clients change.