12 brilliant branding techniques for small businesses
When you’re launching and running a small business there’s a LOT you need to do. From business planning and marketing, to product development and pricing, you have many important tasks vying for your limited time and budget.
But one area no business can afford to overlook is branding. Because whether you consciously plan and control it or not, people will form an opinion about what you do. And it’s far better to be in the driving seat when shaping a brand.
And a brand is so much more than your logo. It encompasses everything from your business cards and social media presence, to how a customer feels when they interact with you.
To help you get your brand right, here are 12 brilliant branding techniques for small businesses.
1) Define your brand values
Before you can build your brand, you first need to be fully aware of what you want your business to be like and what you’d like it to represent.
Everything you do in business goes to creating your brand – from the way you welcome people to your business premises and the way they are served, to even how professional your staff are.
As the business owner, the first thing you want people to think about when they hear of or think about your establishment is the quality of service and how you treat your customers.
2) Make a good first impression
A first impression lasts for quite a while. When any new client visits your establishment, it’s vital that they feel welcomed and are handled professionally.
A first impression also takes into account how clean your premises are and how comfortable they make people feel. An excellent first impression will encourage a client to visit again, and create value for your customers.
3) Create an eye-catching logo
Every successful company has a great logo. A logo will, in most cases, represent your company in instances where words don’t. It’s also an excellent tool for triggering brand recognition.
Bearing in mind that you’ll use the same logo for a number of years, it’s important to create one that is simple, likeable and relatable – and unlikely to date quickly. It also needs to stand out from your competition.
The objective is to create something that people would be proud to identify with, and even something they might wear on a T-shirt if they liked it. You can also use the services of a screen printer to get your logo on apparel, T-shirts etc for your staff to wear at work or as giveaways for customers. Here is a perfect place for screen printing services.
4) Use social media to increase your visibility
Another important tool used by many businesses around the world to reinforce their brand is social media. According to statistics by Statista, the US has about 230 million smartphone users, most of whom access various social media platforms through their phones.
As nearly everyone has an online profile, you can use platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others to shape your brand. These platforms provide an option where you can filter people by age, demographics, and more, enabling you to target your market and create customized content.
So if, for example, your service caters to a young demographic, then your presence on social media should reflect a brand that a young person will be attracted to and willing to be associated with.
5) Do your homework
Before you start on any aspect of brand creation or promotion, you need to properly research your market. This will tell you what other brands are doing, what has worked and what as failed.
Large companies have the resources to hire consultants to perform this research for them. For a small business, however, your most significant investment here will be in terms of time.
You’ll need to use tools such as Facebook polls and diverse keyword searches to work out where your customers are, and what it is they are looking for when looking for products – and who is your competition.
6) Leverage word of mouth recommendations
One of the most powerful branding techniques is simply word of mouth. When you provide clients with top-notch products or services, you’re creating and reinforcing your brand.
You’re also increasing the chances of your happy clients and customers raving about what you do to their colleagues, family and friends. And when a client refers you to someone else, it means that you have won them over and earned their trust.
This trust is converted into hard currency when your customers spread the word about your products and services, and encourage more people to buy from or use you as a result.
In many cases, a customer gained via word of mouth referral will stay with you longer too, as long as you keep up the standards that attracted them in the first place.
7) Come up with a tagline or mantra
A tagline or mantra can be a great way of reinforcing your brand. By creating a memorable, appropriate line you not only communicate with your customers about who you are as a company, but it also help your employees remember your core values when serving the customer.
A catchy mantra, like ‘Have a break, have a KitKat’ or ‘a mars a day helps you work, rest and play’will help people identify your brand much faster and convey exactly what you do or stand for.
8) Create a proper website
Today, if we hear about a new brand, or want to find someone who sells what we need, our first port of call is usually to search for them online. And when we do, we expect to find a website.
Our opinion of that company is then based on what their website looks like, what it says and how well (or not!) it works.
So if you don’t have a website (and one you’re happy with) it’s important to rectify that. If you have the budget, you can hire a professional web designer to help you. If not, you can use simple DIY platforms like Weebly, Wix,and Simbla to build your own.
9) Use clever advertising to get your message across
Advertising isn’t just reserved for big companies with deep pockets and a marketing team. While you may not have the budget for TV ads or billboards, you can still leverage the advantage of advertising to promote your brand.
With clever thinking you can use the channels that are available to you to advertise what you do and what you stand for. As well making good use of your website and social media, you could produce promotional items with your branding and messaging on to give to customers.
Clothing items such as caps and T-shirts are especially helpful as people will see your customers wearing them – basically advertising your brand for you. You can also make good use of places where many people gather, and create signage and branded items such as cups to get your message out.
10) Use content to boost legitimacy
Want to bring your brand to life? You need unique, helpful content that can be posted on your website and shared across social media and in your newsletters.
Content can be blogs introducing your products or services, giving customers ideas of how they can use them, or sharing your motivations for doing what you do. Or you can share answers to commonly asked questions about your products or services, or announce your latest company news.
Not only does good content help to get you in front of new customers and remind existing and lapsed customers of what you do, but it’s an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your brand values again and again.
11) Always put the customer first
Having an approach that places the needs of the customer first will go a long way in making your brand stronger.
If a customer feels valued, appreciated and even loved they’re far more likely to recommend you and give you positive reviews – helping to win you new business.
On the other hand, if you neglect or mistreat your customers, they’ll feel just as motivated (if not more so) to tell others to avoid you and leave negative reviews to warn off other potential customers.
12) Always be consistent in your branding
Unconsciously, everyone is looking for stability. This is why consistency in your branding is crucial for success. And is why you shouldn’t divert from the way you look, sound and act once you’re brand has been established.
Consistency extends to your choice of fonts, typography, colors, and themes. By remaining consistent, you will increase your brand recognition and recall, and build that important know, like, trust factor.
Branding isn’t something you do once, and then leave it. It’s something a business need to work on and protect every day. By adequately branding your business, you’ll create a long term, positive connection with your target audience.
Photo by AJ Garcia