5 Top Tips for Small Business Branding

If your business was a person, how would you describe them? What’s their personality? What are their values? How do they speak, act, and think? These are all fundamental questions for your small business branding and making your brand stand out among the crowd. Customers want to work with businesses they can relate to, so if you want to grow your business you need to consider your brand.

Getting started on your branding doesn’t have to be hard! Follow these five easy steps to set the foundation for your small business branding.

What is a brand?

In simple terms, a brand is the image that your business projects to the public. Your brand is so much more than a logo and a name. It’s your business’s personality, value proposition, tone, and the feeling it evokes when a lead or customer engages with it.

When you’re promoting your brand, it’s important to keep quality and consistency in mind. Every time you share your brand it should follow the rules and guidelines you set in your brand style guide, and the messaging should meet your standards for quality. The more consistent your imagery and messaging, the easier it is for potential customers to recognize your brand. And if any aspect of your brand is trademarked, consistency is key in keeping that trademark claim strong.

Why is small business branding important?

Effective branding is tough to measure. It’s not easy to tie specific results to specific branding initiatives but imagine if businesses didn’t invest in their brands. We’d see a landscape of haphazard messages and images that don’t hold any value and don’t carry meaning for the public.

According to a study from Global Banking and Finance, 71% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they recognize. That’s where consistency comes in – investing in a consistent representation of your brand can translate to increased sales.

Brand associations carry a lot of weight in customers’ purchase decisions. When done correctly, your brand builds positive emotions, memories and associations in your customers’ minds. The stronger your business’s brand identity is, the more likely you’ll build loyalty that fuels your business success.

5 steps to build your small business branding

Whether you’re just getting started or your brand has been in the marketplace for years, you’ll find helpful tips below to continue building and refining it. Here are five top tips for small business branding:

1. Define your brand and target market

Your business’s identity should reflect the product or service that you offer and the customers you want to attract. This starts with some customer research to define your target market and build your customer base.

Take time to understand their needs, wants, and values, as these will affect the way you communicate and how you build your overall marketing plan. A good practice is to create buyer personas for your target audience, focusing on three to five common challenges and needs. Buyer personas are fictionalized profiles of your customers based on your research and internal insights.

There are many free buyer persona templates available online, but you’ll need to do some legwork to complete them. Conduct interviews with current and potential customers to learn more about their needs, motivations, values, and pain points. Talk with your sales team and customer-facing employees to gain insight into the solutions that can solve your customers’ challenges and look at your competition to learn more about your customers’ alternative options.

With this information, you can start building your buyer personas. Keep these personas in mind with all your branding and marketing efforts. If an initiative isn’t serving any of your personas, ask yourself if it’s actually valuable for your overall small business branding and marketing strategy.

2. Evaluate your competition

Your business should have its own distinct identity. To achieve that, you need to know your competition’s branding strategy and business model. Customers are attracted to authentic brands especially for small businesses, so you need to define what sets you apart from the crowd of options.

Identify three to five competitors in your industry and your market. Analyze their branding, including their color choices, imagery, messaging, and personality. How is your brand different from what you see, or how do you want to differentiate yourself? What do customers value about their experience with you that they won’t get from other businesses in your market?

If there are needs that your business can serve that others can’t, this could be a focal point for your branding and product positioning. Bottom line: you can’t stand out from the crowd if you don’t know who’s there and what they’re doing first!

3. Create an eye-catching logo

A strong logo is a distinctive graphic that’s simple and conveys your business’s identity. Think of iconic logos for Apple® (an apple) and Nike® (the “swoosh”). You could identify them immediately without a single word of copy. While a logo is only one element of your brand, when it’s done well it will strengthen your identity and small business branding.

You want your logo to clearly communicate your brand’s values and personality, so choose colors, shapes, and imagery that represent those key elements. Color theory is a great place to start. This theory dives deep into the meaning and perception of different colors and how they work together to communicate your message.

Look at a brand like McDonald’s, for example. The red in its branding has proven to stimulate appetites, while the yellow evokes happiness. In just its logo and colors, McDonald’s is starting you down a path that’s likely to result in a Big Mac and fries.

While your logo must have a great concept, it also needs to be visible and clear in all forms. Hiring a professional graphic designer to create your logo and visual brand identity will ensure all your elements work together to communicate the message you intend. They can also create brand guidelines that will tell you what color schemes and fonts to use in your marketing materials.

Ask your designer to create full-color versions of your logo as well as grayscale, black-and-white, and all-white versions. This will make it easier for your logo to be featured on any background.

4. Create a messaging guide

Your messaging guide covers your brand’s tone and personality as well as essential copy that your staff should have ready to go. It’s a tool for small business branding consistency – it will be easier for your employees to share consistent, high-quality messages that are in line with your brand when they have a guide that’s easy to reference.

Your brand’s personality is a driving force for your messaging guide. Imagine that your brand is a person, or relate it to a recognizable figure. How is that person perceived by others? What words would they use to communicate your message? It can be helpful to put yourself in this person’s shoes as you create your guide and when you write for your brand in the future.

Use your messaging guide when you’re drafting copy for your website, press releases, advertisements, collateral, and more. An effective messaging guide must include:

  • A mission statement that communicates your business’s main goals
  • A 2-3 sentence boilerplate that describes who you are and what you do
  • An elevator pitch that concisely shares what your business does and the value you offer
  • Descriptions of the products or services your business provides and how they work
  • A memorable, meaningful and concise tagline that will be used in most of your advertising

Ask a trusted advisor who knows your brand to proof your messaging guide to ensure there are no grammatical errors or extra fluff in your writing. Consumers respond well to writing that’s informative, clear, and concise.

5. Protect your brand

You’ve likely registered your business with relevant state agencies, but without a trademark for your business name, logo, and tagline, anyone could use it without your permission.

Trademarks can protect your brand name, product names, logo, and tagline, among other elements. You can file a trademark application online in less than 90 minutes through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website. Filing fees vary based on the class of your offerings and your filing method.

If you’re working with an attorney on your trademark filing, you’ll also need to pay the fee for their services. A trademark attorney can run a search for you to see if your proposed trademark is available, determine the right filing method and class for your trademark, and prepare and file your trademark application.

Investing in your small business branding is just the first step

Now that you’ve got a plan for your small business branding, keep building awareness for your brand while building loyalty in your customer base. If you need capital to take the next step forward toward your business’s future, Pursuit can help! We offer more than 15 business loans and have a team of lending experts ready to assist you every step of the way. Get in touch with us today to learn more about what’s possible.

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