Small Business Branding: A No-Nonsense Guide

Branding for small businesses is vital and leads to success if done correctly. It gives your company the chance to succeed and reach audiences. You don’t need an entire marketing team to achieve good branding. However, you need to do your research and be prepared!

In this no-nonsense guide, you’re going to learn why branding for small businesses is essential. We will also discuss some of the most critical steps for branding and we’ll introduce how branding matters for search engine optimization (SEO). By following these tips, you will ready to compete in your industry and gain more traction as a company.

Why Is Branding Important For Small Businesses?

Definining what a small business brand is.

Branding itself is one of the essential parts of any business marketing plan. For example, people know what Netflix is not because of education. They remember the company because of how succinct, simple, and memorable their branding is. Netflix stands out amongst other digital video companies because of the kind of programming it offers, which is ever evolving yet always staying true to their core market. Most of us know what’s coming when we sign on to Netflix.

This is the value of branding: your business is recognizable based on look, feel, emotion, values, colors, logos and more.

Does that mean you have to spend millions to create a smart brand of your own?

No. The truth is most of us are not marketing to industries as large as Netflix. Gaining traction for your smaller brand is completely possible, but with far fewer marketing expenses.

No matter the size of your business, branding shares essential information with your customers in the blink of an eye. It communicates closely with them. It sets expectations for your products, delivery, and offers a consistent voice to who you are as a company.

Without branding, it’s nearly impossible to really tap into an audience or even reach your specific target market. Why? Because without branding, it’s unclear what sets you apart from other competitors. Branding is the visual, tangible, consumable and identifiable. Branding sets you apart from others. It shows customers what makes you different and important to your clients. It also gives your company a voice to connect with customers. Which leads to increases in your sales and success.

Think about your first assumptions about Netflix, Coca-Cola, Pandora, Chase Bank, or Adidas.  Each one brings images, awareness, expectations, and perhaps past experiences to your mind. That is the psychological impact of branding. When it’s done right, it expedites a consumer’s actions and impacts behaviors that lead to sales.

To achieve proper branding, even without a marketing team, there are a few steps that you need to understand and complete.

Here are the 6 most critical steps you need to do today to succeed at branding for small businesses.

#1 Identify Your Brand’s Purpose

Your brand needs a purpose. Otherwise, your customers will not understand how your company can improve their lives with your services or products.

Ask yourself: what does your brand seek to provide for your customers? Is there a particular purpose your brand serves in the lives of your clients? Perhaps you sell shoes, and your purpose is to keep feet warm, keep people mobile, keep people safe? Perhaps your shoe brand has a vision for sustainability and as such your shoes are made of recycled material? Or you have hard soles for hard working feet. Whatever your specific brand purpose, it needs to be easy for your customers to understand.

#2 Study the Competition

Much like professional athletes do before a big game, it’s important to study who you’re up against. The competitors in your industry can be some of the most outstanding teachers for how to market yourself and create a unique brand.

Study the competitors, but don’t copy them. Instead, identify where you can differentiate. Once you do this, you will already be on the right path for branding your small business. And study the great brands out there. What do they do in their messaging? How consistent are they? How frequently do they publish or promote themselves wherever you see their products? Consider social media, advertising, other marketing like blogs or newsletters. The more you understand your competitors, the stronger your marketing will become.

#3 Find Your Target Audience

Even with a brand purpose, it is nearly impossible to find success unless you know your target audience. To do this, you need to study market trends and see who is buying your product or services.

Learn the demographic traits and understand how best to reach these individuals. By doing so, you gain powerful clues about the personality your brand should have. Studying your audience will also give insights into how they purchase products, consume social media, rate products and how they want to be communicated with.  All of this goes a long way to increasing sales and brand loyalty.

#4 Let Your Brand Tell a Story

One of the most important parts of brand messaging is sharing a story with your customers. People love to hear specific stories, influences, or even inspirations behind what a brand is and how it came to be. Your story doesn’t have to be unique, but it should be believable. Branding for small businesses is not about having a one-of-a-kind story but having a believable purpose and message.

It needs to come from the heart. And it should share what values your company has, why you created the company, and what your brand’s goals are. Once you identify and pair this with your purpose, your messaging will be impressive and hard to ignore.

#5 Be Visually Enticing for Your Audience

Images sell. Most big companies have marketing teams/graphics departments to handle visuals for branding. Branding for small businesses still requires the same visual assets to appear professional and stand with the “big guns”. There are many ways around the big budget images. Sites like Canva offer templates to create logos, social media memes, pitch decks, eBooks, or business cards to amplify the professionalism of your company.

And if you don’t want to do it yourself, companies like 99 Designs, Upwork, or Fiverr offer individual consultants that can create everything from a full-fledged brand identity, logo packages, social media assets, and more at very economical prices.

#6 Partnerships with Associated Brands and Trustworthy Companies

If you find yourself struggling to gain traction with your ideal audience, one activity you can try is to create partnerships with brands your target audience already trusts. Ideally, this kind of partnership is with a company with a collaborative, yet distinctively different, product line.

It’s challenging to partner with a company “just like you”. But a company that helps a “piece” of the client’s need where you fulfill on something different yet important can be the most fruitful grounds for a partnership.

Partnering in this way can significantly change the amount of trust your audience has in your business and lead do deeper customer loyalty faster than if you relied solely on your own marketing to achieve the same results.

And The Bonus: Branding Can Improve Your SEO Ranking Which Is Critical For Small Businesses

Not surprisingly, improving your branding also has an impact on your SEO. Because branding increases insight and expectations about your business, great SEO can work with your business reputation to improve your lead funnel. When a prospective client has a positive sense of what your business is about, SEO on the “right” keywords can amplify the sales journey.

Brand Extract put this the best when describing the symbiotic relationship between branding, SEO and sales, “Brand affects awareness. Awareness drives search. Search impacts website traffic. Traffic influences revenue.”

It’s that simple and that challenging.  SEO is complicated in many respects, but a brand that is clear and accessible to the clients its trying to serve always has an easier time when a smart SEO strategy is implemented.

Conclusion: It’s Time to Find Your Brand

As a small business owner, if your brand is still confusing or not yet mapped out, it’s time to take this work more seriously. That doesn’t mean you invest obnoxiously in branding assets, long before you take that on, you want to get clear about who you are to your customers. Why does the work you do matter? Why does someone need you? Then, the rest makes sense.

Branding for small businesses matters. It helps you drive the right traffic to your site and improves your SEO ranking if you are consistent and know precisely what your customers are looking for.

By addressing all the areas discussed in this guide, you can create a consistent, visually appealing, and stunning brand that customers will notice, purchase from and eventually become loyal to over time.

Related reading:

How To Rebrand Yourself If Your Small Business Is Going In A New Direction

How To Create Content For Local Landing Pages

How To Ask Customers To Review Your Business

SEO For Startups: A Comprehensive Plan For Your Business

If you have any questions about branding for small businesses, let us know in the comments how we can help you get on the right track to promoting your business successfully. Or reach out to speak with our team about your branding needs.

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