5 Cheap Branding Strategies for Small Businesses
As a small business owner, you might think branding is something best left to the Apple, Google, and McDonalds of the world. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter how big (or small!) Your company is; if you are in the business world, you need to think about the branding of your business.
You don’t need an Apple-sized bank account to build an effective branding strategy from scratch. There are many things you can do to help your business stand out, grab your customers’ attention, and make your business memorable without breaking the bank.
Let’s take a look at five branding strategies that will help take your small business to the next level. Here’s how to transform your business:
Define your brand identity
Branding is more than just a logo hitting your website. So, before you can move forward with the more tactical steps in your branding strategy (e.g. designing your logo), you need to take the time to be truly clear about who you are as a company or, in other words, your identity and brand name.
There are a few steps for the process:
- Find out who you are
- Find out who your target customers are
- Take some time to define your ideal customer
- Establish your POD
- Take stock of your competitors and what they are doing. Do you notice any trends?
Switch to the Visual Part of Your Brand
Once you’ve defined who you are, who your customers are, what makes you special and what works in your industry, it’s time to actually start designing your brand. This step is just as crucial for branding your small business as it is for larger companies.
Here Are Some Things You Will Need to Create the Look of Your Brand:
- A style guide of the brand. Before you start designing, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of your design strategy, such as your brand color palette, fonts, and dos and don’ts. A style guide is a great way to organize the details of your design and make sure that you, your designer and anyone else working on your brand are on the same page with your brand direction.
- A logo. Your logo should be the first thing you design, as it will act as a starting point for all of your other images (like your website and business cards).
- Business cards. You need a business card, and the design needs to match your logo and your other design assets.
- A website. Your website is like the digital real estate element of your business, and when people visit your website, the look and feel should be consistent with the rest of your brand.
Depending on your business, you may need additional branding resources (like product packaging or company letterhead), but the most important thing to keep in mind? Regardless of where a customer encounters your brand, whether they see your logo, visit your website, or see one of your products in store, the look, feel and design must be consistent. If you are inconsistent in branding your business, you risk confusing your customers, and if they are confused, you could lose them to the competition.
Establish Yourself as a Subject Matter Expert With the Right Content
As a small business, you may not have a huge advertising budget. There is a better, easier and more convenient way to get your name out there and that’s content marketing.
Content marketing works on many levels. First, it gives you the opportunity to showcase your industry experience; By establishing yourself as a go-to resource and subject matter expert in your field, your audience will trust you and, when the time comes to choose a company to do business with, you will be the first to come to mind.
Content marketing is also a great strategy because it gives you the opportunity to strengthen your brand. By developing a strong brand voice (and then broadcasting that voice in all of your content) you strengthen who you are and what you stand for to your customers, which strengthens the relationship and helps drive your business.
What if you need another reason why content marketing is so effective for small businesses? It’s affordable, so even if you’re working on a tight budget, you can make the content work for you.
The key to success with using content as a marketing strategy is creating the right content. Do your research to understand what kinds of questions your customers are asking and then create content that answers those questions.
Look for Collaboration Opportunities
People like to partner with brands they trust. But if you’re a new brand, establishing that trust can take a long time. Look for opportunities to partner with other brands your customers already work with.
Think of it as a confidence building by proxy; if your customers are introduced to your brand by a brand they already know and trust, they are much more likely to extend that trust and become your customers as a result.
Be a Superhero to your Customers
If you really want to stand out in today’s hyper-competitive market, it’s not enough to just speak for it, facts must also follow.
Your brand goes beyond your logo, your marketing strategies, or how you grab the attention of customers – it’s about what you do once you connect with those customers. The reputation you earn and what customers are saying behind your back is the most important part of your brand.
That’s why, if you want to be successful in the long run, you need to be a superhero to your customers and make customer service your top priority.
Think about it. What’s better to be known than to provide the highest level of service to your customers? If your customers have a positive experience every time they interact with your brand, they’ll keep coming back and tell their friends too.
Now, one thing to keep in mind is that customer service is greater than any single interaction or department. If you want to truly excel in your customer service, you need to provide a consistently positive experience to your customers, regardless of how, when and why they interact with your brand.
Look for opportunities to improve the customer experience within your company. Is it confusing to place an order on your website? Renew the design to make it more intuitive for your customers. Is it a hassle to return? The point is, the better your customer experience, the more you’ll be known as a company that cares about its customers and the more customers you’ll get as a result.
Start your Branding Strategy
You don’t need to spend a fortune to give your business an effective brand. All you need is a little creativity and work.
And now that you know how to effectively (and economically!) Brand your small business, what is left for you to do? Go out there and start branding.