For all businesses, big or small, one of the most important parts of marketing, and a vital part of your company’s identity is branding. There is a need for strong brands more than ever before, with thousands of businesses constantly vying for attention through all possible channels, and the heavy emphasis placed on memorable and easily recognizable visual identity. Just as individuals foster a look and style through their appearance and their words, so do companies when they form a brand. Branding is about how we want the world to perceive our business, defining not only the logo and other aesthetics but also the tone and character of our communications with consumers. There are many ways to go about building a brand for your small business. Let’s take a look at a few.
Define your brand
Take a good, hard look at your business. What place in the market does it occupy? Who are your customers? A huge part of branding is finding a mutual emotive space with your target demographic. In other words, to push their buttons. Research what kind of triggers your customers respond to, what needs they have that your brand will fulfill, and what rationale they will be using when they choose you. Once you’ve identified these factors, it’s important to make your brand unique – it’ll need to really stand out in the crowd.
What’s in a name?
Naming your brand is of huge importance. Remember, once you decide upon a name and go public, it is almost impossible to go back and change it. A catchy name that rolls off the tongue is good. Easy to spell for when people are searching for it – phonetic spelling is usually a good idea. And remember – it is going to have to look great as a logo too. Make sure you’re more than happy with the name and the logo – you’ll be seeing a lot of both of them for years to come!
Print print print
Whilst we do rely heavily on digital channels for marketing and promotion, the old school should not be forgotten. Branded literature and promotional goodies are an excellent way to raise brand awareness – who doesn’t love free USB sticks or magnets? If your budget stretches to it why not use a branded vehicle to take your company’s message and logo all over town? Printing material isn’t generally expensive though and has always proved a canny way to get your brand out there.
By far and away the most effective way to brand in the modern world – social media has taken the way we run marketing campaigns by storm. It is incredibly useful for branding – especially for brands that are clearly defined and have a strong message to communicate. Social media is all about sharing as well, so a video or other strong content can easily spread like wildfire. Many successful brands rely heavily on user-generated content, which is a brilliant way to spread your message and also develop a strong interactive rapport with your target demographic. Branding is all about fostering loyalty, and there is no better way to go about it than on social media.
Take a stand
People expect more from their brands today than just great products and exemplary service. The public wants to know how a brand feels about the world around them – what they stand for. This could manifest itself as a commitment to the environment through sustainable packaging, or promoting equal rights and opportunities. These kinds of connections make people empathize and identify with your company. Don’t be afraid to take a position – part of branding is understanding that you can’t please all the people all the time. But those you do please will stick with you.
Whatever you do, don’t try to mimic big brands, or copy gimmicks, promotional ideas or content from others. Brand originality is something no one can put a price on, and something that will make your business memorable. It’s worth noting that, in fact, established brands are trying to promote themselves as independent in the search for authenticity.
A brand is like a person – defined by numerous attributes, with those attributes, in turn, determine the style and tone of its communications. Striking the right chord with your branding is a vital and integral part of any business’s marketing.