Small Business Branding: Making Your Brand Stand Out

Do you know what the most valuable part of your business is? It’s your brand! Investing time and effort in small business branding makes your business stronger, which can mean more revenue for your business.

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, intellectual property represents 41% of the U.S. economy. That means nearly half the money made in the economy is due to brand value. Branding makes the difference between a t-shirt that costs $5 and one that sells for $50.

Here’s what you can do to build or improve your brand to make your business grow.

Small business branding starts with your brand architecture

Building out your brand architecture is a great first step in shaping your brand. It’ll help you identify the key elements of your brand to design your business’s voice and visual identity. Let’s try a brand architecture exercise to get you started.

What are the needs of your customers? Before you can market your business to your customers, you need to understand what drives them and how they think. You can do this by uncovering their needs in these three areas:

  • Truth: What is a universal truth in your customers’ lives? How does that relate to your business? For example, if you own a restaurant, you need to think about the daily lives of people in your area and their routines.
  • Need: What concrete needs do your customers have? Let’s consider the same restaurant example. Your customers might need convenience during their daily commute or a place to meet up with friends or people in their neighborhood.
  • Friction: What’s getting in the way of your customers fulfilling their needs? In the same example, this might be a lack of restaurant options in the area, or it might be that all the restaurant options don’t cater to the unique needs mentioned above.

The truth, need, and friction exercise above is simple, but it’s important in setting the foundation for clearly communicating what your business offers. You want to show that your business meets the needs of your customers and understands their lives.

Identify your brand’s benefits. Once you’ve learned more about your customers, write down how your brand provides value to your customer base in the following ways:

  • Functional benefits: What do your products or services do for your customers?
  • Emotional benefits: What emotional benefits does your business provide for your customers? Are you offering relief to your customers? Maybe they feel joyful whenever they interact with you?

The functional and emotional benefits your business provides are important pieces of your brand. They’ll communicate how you can solve a customer’s problem, or how you can improve their lives.

What’s your customer’s reason to believe? Why should your customers believe in what you’re offering? This is an important question to answer because it will strongly influence how your business communicates online, in person, and everywhere else. For this step, you can think about the reasons your customers should believe you in two ways:

  • Internal reasons to believe: What credibility do you communicate to your customers?
  • External reasons to believe: Who vouches for, provides testimonials, or certifies your business’s quality and ability to deliver on its promises?

Every brand wants to show that they’re trustworthy. Make sure your customers are receiving that message in your branding.

What’s your brand’s personality? If your business was a person, how would your customers describe them? What would their personality traits be? This part of the exercise is important because it determines what goes into your visual identity as well as your brand voice.

What’s your brand’s vision? How does your business see a better future? What problems can you solve to achieve that future?

What’s your brand essence? In a short three-to-five-word statement, sum up the meaning of your business. Think of this as the first step to developing your tagline.

Shape your brand design with a vision board

A vision board an extremely useful tool for small business branding. It’s especially helpful for creating your business’s visual identity. Visions boards are a collage of photos, graphics, and content that represent your brand’s identity. Pinterest can be a great way to collect images and organize them in a profile that can be used like a vision board.

When you’re putting your vision board together, you’ll find that each picture or piece of content will resonate with different parts of your brand architecture. That’s why your vision board and your brand architecture should be considered part of your creative brief. You’ll be able to give these pieces to a graphic designer to build out your brand’s visual identity kit.

Finalize your creative brief

Your creative brief is a document that outlines everything you want to include in your brand identity. It combines all the information from your brand architecture and your vision board into a presentable format.

You can give your creative brief to a graphic designer who can then build out the visual elements of your brand. Send it to your designer before your first meeting and use it as a tool to keep their work on track with your vision.

Creating a visual identity kit

Once you have a strong understanding of your brand, you can start building a solid visual identity for your business. Your brand’s visual identity includes:

  • the fonts that you’ll use through all your communications
  • the colors that your brand uses everywhere from your website to your logo
  • guidance on how and where your logo can be used
  • and any graphics that you use for your business.

When hiring a graphic designer to create a brand kit like this, it’s important to have answers to the following questions ready ahead of time:

How does your brand’s personality express itself visually?

To answer this question, look to your brand architecture! Having a deep understanding of your brand’s personality allows you to translate it into visuals. If your brand’s personality is strong or aggressive, would a cursive or a bold-type font be more suitable to convey this? The same can be said for colors. If your brand’s personality is calm and soothing, would a red or brown color palette have the same effect as a shade of green?

A good graphic designer will be able to take this information and make recommendations, but it’s important to understand how these brand aspects will interact. These visual elements are part of how you communicate with your customers to convince them why your products or services are the best fit for them. In other words, they’re a critical part of your marketing strategy.

Where will your business use its brand identity?

Depending on your business model, you’ll use your brand identity in different ways. If you’re a web focused brand, you’ll want to have colors, vectors, fonts, and typography that’s readable and clear on all kinds of devices. If your business has a brick-and-mortar presence, you’ll use your brand’s colors, designs, and shapes to communicate the experience you want to give customers that enter your store.

How will your business handle any future visual identity needs?

The designer’s job is to make designs that are versatile and can be used in multiple places (in person, online, and in print). But moving forward there will be times when you need new branded content. It’s important to come up with a plan to handle this. In some cases, reaching out to your graphic designer is the best bet. In other cases you might not have enough time or budget to work with them. Have a backup plan in place for these situations.

The key to small business branding is consistency

Building your small business branding only works if you use it everywhere and use it consistently. This means making sure that your employees have a copy of the brand guidelines, have your precise colors and fonts installed, and have high-quality versions of the logo to use.

It’s important that everyone on the team knows that everything they write or produce in the business’s name, even emails, are required to be branded. With a comprehensive approach to branding all the important points about your brand’s personality will shine through.

Whether you’re building your brand from the ground up or are looking to update your brand, Pursuit can give you the capital boost you need. Explore our 15+ business loans and reach out to our loan experts to see how we can help.

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