“When I’m up and running, I’ll put my efforts into developing a brand.”
Does this sound familiar? This is a frequent frame of thinking among small business owners who are preoccupied with marketing and sales, and who lose sight of the fact that their firm is both a business and a brand.
While it may seem like you’re saving time in the short term, neglecting your brand identity can only result in additional hassles in the long run, according to research.
Foregoing branding may result in your words being heard loud and clear, but it may also result in unintended consequences and long-term concerns. While the consequences of this approach are not immediately apparent, they will manifest themselves all too quickly and painfully in a variety of ways: you will receive more questions than sales, audiences will be unclear about what you are all about, and potential customers will purchase from your competitors.
Small companies must build and nurture emotional connections with their consumers via their message, marketing, and engagement if they are to succeed in today’s market. Your brand is the most precious asset in your company, and when it is done well, the advantages and return on investment are quantifiable and immediately noticeable.
In this article, we’ll take you step by step through the process of developing a brand identity for your small company. You’ll discover how to brand your firm, how to employ a small business branding expert, how to utilize brand listening tools, and other useful information.
How to Create a Brand Identity
Your brand identity consists of much more than simply a logo. A style guide, marketing materials, or color palette are just a part of what we do. Brand identity is the result of how your company appears, feels, and communicates with its target audience. As a result, it has an impact on the overall customer experience, and ultimately on how others perceive your reputation and company.
With so much on the line, it is unlikely that your small business’s brand identity will manifest itself in an instant. It will take time, study, and careful consideration, but the results will be well worth it.
So, where do you even begin?
1. Research, research, research
If you don’t know your target audience, it’s impossible to build a successful brand identity. First and foremost, spend some time getting to know your target audience. Define your beliefs, interests, and hobbies by creating personas that represent you.
Move on to competitor research after you have a firm grasp of your consumers. What visual features, personalities, and themes are other businesses in your sector using to promote themselves?
Finally, don’t forget to speak with those who are most familiar with your present brand: the individuals who work there. Additionally, they may provide insight into what has worked in the past when it comes to marketing the organization.
2. Create assets
The fun part will begin after the research is completed. It’s time to put all of your new knowledge into visual form. Common brand assets include the following:
- Color palettes
- Photography and graphics for marketing campaigns
Logo use and tone of speech are among other topics addressed in this style guide
Think about the three Cs of branding as you construct your brand assets:
- Clarity: It’s your responsibility, not the customer’s, to make your message clear. Your brand isn’t obvious enough if people have to fight to understand what you’ve done.
- Consistency: Your website, Twitter account, and billboard should all speak with the same tone and inflection. Why? Confidence and discipline are instilled when your brand is consistent.
- Commitment: In the event that our advertising do not go viral, we get disheartened and change our course of action. Keep in mind that branding is a lengthy process.
- In addition to the 3 Cs of marketing (creation, capture, and conversion), asset development expressly for marketing campaigns may benefit from these principles as well.
3. Define your brand story
A brand narrative is a great way to solidify your brand identity. This isn’t your genesis narrative, but it will include some of the reasons why you began your firm.
Your brand narrative should address these questions.
- What does your brand believe in?
- What pain points does your product or service alleviate?
- How does your business solve those problems?
- Why did you decide that your business should alleviate those pains?
- Where do you see your business going?
You need to remember that your brand narrative isn’t simply the elevator speech you use to describe your company to strangers. It’s all about how and why your company’s brand connects with customers.
4. Iterate and refine
It’s alright if your brand identity changes over time. Your original brand identity should be analyzed and refined in light of feedback from customers. Take a variety of approaches and find which one works best for you. There are a number of ways that you may do A/B testing on your site, for example.
3 of the Most Common Branding Myths
Branding myths abound in the early phases of developing your company’s identity. Too many business owners believe these fallacies, which has the unfortunate result of damaging their firm in the long term.
Here are three of the most common branding fallacies busted:
Branding myth #1: “Branding is important only when I’m growing”
In no way should you undervalue your company’s most valuable asset. As much as 30% to 50% of a company’s worth might be attributed to its brand. As a result, your product or service becomes something unique and unreplicated: the value you provide to your target audience. This is why branding is so important.
To put it another way, branding is essential at every level of your company’s development. Your brand has to be relatable in order to get anyone’s attention. This does not necessarily guarantee that your target demographic will flock to you, just because you’ve developed a brand. It must convey your value and the solution you are offering.. Consumers will form their own opinions about your company if you merely go out into the world with a passionate concept but fail to invest in your brand.
Branding myth #2: “I can’t afford that expense!”
You don’t have to spend money on branding. It’s a long-term investment in something tangible. Even if no one agrees on precisely how much it’s worth, it might still be your most valuable asset. Components of brand equity include brand awareness, brand attributes, and brand loyalty. The intangible characteristics of this asset are difficult to evaluate, but this does not imply that you cannot or should not invest in this critical asset. Your narrative is the greatest method to deal with this asset’s intangible character.
So how much money do I need to put aside for this investment? Our general rule of thumb is to allocate between 12 and 15 percent of a company’s first expenditure on branding. It may be used to hire a branding strategist, graphic and web designers, copywriter, marketing expert, social media expert, and other relevant professionals.
Branding myth #3: “Branding is too complicated for my business”
It’s surprising that some individuals think branding makes things more difficult when, in actuality, not investing in branding makes things more difficult.
Regardless of how “basic” you think your company is, you need invest in your brand strategy. Organize. Defining your narrative Make it simple to understand, consistent, and reusable. A set of branding rules makes it easier to make judgments in the future rather than having to relive your narrative each time you launch an ad campaign or email funnel.
The Top Brand Listening Tools
It’s one thing to invest the time, energy, and money necessary to establish a brand, but it’s quite another to learn what your consumers really think about it and your firm as a whole.
It’s possible that you may have fifteen one-star reviews on Yelp, three critical blog pieces being shared on Facebook, and seven negative tweets about a horrible customer experience before you realize it, and this could erase all of your hard work building your brand.
Thanks to social media, it’s now possible to hear directly from your present and future clients. You have the potential to help define, promote, and if required, protect your brand with a single post on social media, where millions of interactions take place every day.
Here are five essential social media listening tools and tactics to help you locate and listen in on those discussions, watch the internet and social media for mentions of your business, and participate when the chance comes.
1. Identify relevant keywords and phrases to look for conversations happening in your space or directly tied to your business
In order to find your company or the services you provide, what terms and phrases would consumers and potential customers use in their searches?
In order to find out which phrases people are searching for the most, Google Trends is a wonderful tool to employ. It may also help you discover similar search terms and general regional interest.
Using this information, we can zero down on the most popular terms. For example, type in terms relating to your sector or brand name to discover what people are searching for the most. Your content strategy, sales campaigns, and email blasts may be tailored to concentrate more on keywords that consumers are genuinely looking for.
You may use Buzzsumo to find influencers to promote your content, or to discover what your rivals are presently ranking for in the search results.
2. Listen to key conversations that matter most to your business
There must be a way to tell what people are saying. Which speaker are you listening to? Using these tools, you’ll know.
If you are a busy entrepreneur who doesn’t have the time to watch your business on social media, Google Alerts is an excellent tool for you. Google Alerts will inform you through email whenever one of your search phrases is referenced. It’s up to you how often you want to get these updates, so you can keep a close eye on the situation.
You may use socialmention to search for terms and examine the general frequency, sentiment, influencers, sources, and reach of the keywords you’re looking for. There are a lot of interesting insights to be gained from this snapshot, which may be exported for your own records or analyzed in Excel. Using the sentiment rating, you may get a sense of how your consumers feel about your brand, and pay attention to any bad references.
3. Monitor channels and keep an eye on where the conversation is happening
Similar to Google Alerts, Mention compiles all of your mentions into a single feed and assigns a sentiment score to each one, letting you know which ones are most significant and in need of your attention. You can monitor your complete online presence using Mention, which draws data from millions of sources.
If you’re looking to monitor all of your social media accounts from a single location with ease, Hootsuite is the tool for you. Hootsuite’s main strength lies in its listening and search skills. In Hootsuite, you can quickly view all tweets with a certain hashtag or term, as well as who is sharing them.
In the age of social media, your customers are speaking for themselves. Don’t lose out on the everyday possibilities to aid your consumers and your business since it is generally unedited, unfettered, and unrestrained (for better or worse).
6 Branding Tips for Small Businesses to Stand Out
Think about the folks who stand out in a crowd and seem to have the most friends. They are endearing and empathetic, with a charismatic demeanor that elicits strong feelings in those around them. As more and more individuals come into touch with them, their fame expands exponentially.
A brand is no different. For example, you want customers who remember your product or service because it solves their issue or helps them to feel better about themselves.
Here are some of the best small company branding concepts we’ve come up with:
Be memorable, not modern
Almost everyone is a creature of habit, preferring to work with stuff they’ve used before. What if I’m wrong? It’s time to revisit Gap’s disastrous 2010 brand relaunch. In order to attract new consumers, the firm revamped its 20-year-old emblem with a new design. Existing consumers, on the other hand, were less than delighted. They were desperate to have their iconic symbol back!
It’s a good thing Gap ditched the new logo after getting negative feedback on social media. However, there is a valuable lesson here: Make a lasting impression, but don’t go over the top. Why meddle with a good thing if people are already familiar with the brand and the product?
Update and monitor your social presence
To build a strong brand identity, you need to connect with your customers on social media. If you’re solely on Twitter, this could be a good moment to expand your social media presence. Your audience is more likely to be on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat; thus, you should join them there.
Be consistent with your brand’s appearance, feel, and message across various social media platforms. Your brand’s identity will be diluted if you don’t communicate clearly
Get customers and influencers to work on your brand’s behalf
A well-recognized brand is one that is often brought up in casual conversation. Faster and greater outcomes may be achieved by enlisting the aid of your followers in your brand-building activities Encourage your consumers to provide online evaluations as a method to improve your business.
There are several ways that your influencers may help spread the word about your company. Your target audience, a group that pays close attention to what their peers are saying, will be more likely to trust you if you have a large following of your own.
Deliver content your audience can use
Consumers and companies typically use the internet to get information about goods and services that can address particular concerns.
As a result of this process, you have the chance to present your customers with the knowledge they need to make an informed decision about which brand to choose. They will begin to identify your brand with knowledge once the information can be applied to their lives and gives the value they had hoped for.
Create an experience but don’t forget about everyday interactions
Keep in mind that your brand is the sum of all of the interactions your customers have had with you. Paying attention to the small things that make a big difference to your consumers, such as response speed, ability to search and receive answers fast, and a comfortable checkout, easy e-commerce system, and a simple payment system are all part of this process.
Take a stand and define your values
A well-known brand has a distinct identity. Refreshing for consumers to see brands that concentrate on principles that mirror what they believe in, or even what they oppose.
Standing out for social justice, the environment, or a corporate practice might be an example of this kind of behavior. Make it apparent that what you believe in is a component of your brand.
When it comes to today’s digital economy, your competition isn’t simply a business down the street. Businesses like yours compete with each other for attention on the internet.
Having a distinct brand identity has never been more critical for small companies looking to stand out in the crowd. Because small companies lack the resources to mount large-scale marketing initiatives, knowing your brand, what you have to offer, and who you’re targeting is even more important if you want to be successful.
Branding for small businesses is not a luxury, but rather a need. In order to build a professional company brand, you need to put in the time and effort required. Every part of your company is affected by your brand, which is the driving force behind all communication.
Your brand is a part of your clients’ minds and souls. The goal is to create awe-inspiring experiences. You’ll win their heart if you impress them and show that you care about them.