Creative Branding for Small Businesses, Startups & Beginners
Your brand may not have the budget larger corporations have, but you have what it takes to create a successful brand.
By The Holiday Firm Manisha Holiday | Published July 11, 2022 10:00AM | Business | The Holiday Firm Atlanta
If you run a small business, then chances are you are looking for ways to attract more business. Running a small business places huge demands on your time and brand strategies can seem unimportant when there are other pressing issues. Branding your small business is one such means. Branding is defined as a marketing practice through which a brand creates an identity for their business by using a name, symbol or a logo. It is one of the most important aspects of marketing as it helps in distinguishing a business in front of their audience. Branding for small businesses makes you stand out from the competition and communicates with your audience about the unique things that you have to offer.
What Is Branding for Business?
Branding is a marketing practice in which a company creates a comprehensive message name, logo, and other collateral that is easily identifiable as belonging to the company.
It's all about creating a perception of your brand in the mind of those who come in contact with your company, product, and service. If you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything, and the low cost producer is the only winner. You don’t have to hire an expensive designer or brand strategist. It does mean that you will need to go beyond creating a logo and picking your brand color pallet.
Your brand is made up of several elements, including the following:
Before you tailor these elements, you need to know what brand identity you’re trying to express. Here are a few questions to consider to help you better understand your brand’s
What makes your brand unique?
How is your business different from all your competitors?
What do you do better than everyone else?
What does your brand stand for?
How does your brand make the world better?
What 3 words best describe your brand?
A brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” This is how Jeff Bezos, father of Amazon, defines the idea of a brand. As the founder of one of the most successful brands in the world, this guy knows what he’s talking about.
I came across a one-page handout that I created a few years ago for a business workshop with these 10 tips for small businesses on branding. I started to read through it thinking that with the pace things move in marketing, it would not be relevant anymore and was ready to hit the delete key. I was surprised when I got all the way through to #13 and realized that they are all still relevant for small businesses today.
Here are 14 tips small businesses and start up can use to grow their brand with customers.
1. Evaluate Your Target Audience.
Your target audience plays a key role in your branding strategy as they are the receivers of your communicated message. For an effective branding for small businesses, you should have a good idea about your target audience. If your target audience is male from ages 14-35, your branding strategy should be about attracting them to your brand. When you have a good idea about your target audience, it can be used to create an effective branding strategy for your startup business.
2. Have a Professional Logo.
Your logo need to reflect the image you want to make, especially if you are competing with larger businesses. It’s more important to include your logo on every piece of communication. A logo communicates your brand’s vision to your customers through various design elements such as icons, fonts and symbols. It is the foundation of your brand strategy as it helps in attracting your customers, creating a strong first impression, making your brand memorable and fostering brand loyalty in your customers.
3. Have a Professional Website.
It has to be a place where potential clients or customers can get a “feel” for you and your legitimacy and if the want to do business with you. If you are reaching out to a high level professional audience, your website need to reflect that. If someone recommends your business, they will go online to look at your website. Your website design should be refreshed every year, don't go crazy, you don’t have add every new interactive widget created. It is more important that you are regularly updating with content that is relevant and useful.
4. Staying True and Creating Authenticity.
Your brand messaging is what makes you unique. The best thing you can do while working a branding strategy is staying true to your brand. Never put any false information in terms of offering more to your targeted customers. Also, another thing is that your messaging should be unique and authentic to your customers while developing your brand identity.
5. Blogs and Newsletters are Great.
First, they can provide valuable content to your audience on a consistent basis, making you an “expert”. Second, they help with search rankings especially if you are writing relevant content to your specific identified keywords and finally they enable conversation. Two-way dialog is much more valuable in helping understand what your customers need, than using only outbound marketing.
6. Hire a Branding Designer.
If you are struggling with the design aspect of your brand strategy, it will be a great idea to hire a branding designer for your business. Branding designer can be an agency, a designer or an online platform like Fiverr to help you get creative designs for your branding strategy. A good designer always presents you multiple designs for a single task, you can get multiple professional designs in no time!
7. Create a Multi-Touch Marketing Plan.
In order to get your value proposition in front of your target audience you may need to use direct mail, email marketing, host a webinar, sponsor a local event, attend trade shows, attend networking events, develop a good social media program. You have to find the best combination of methods for your goals. Data shows that people need to be exposed to a brand at least seven times before they buy but that does not mean it has to be with the channel.
8. Making a Brand Style Guide.
After taking care of planning and design, the next step towards creating an exceptional brand identity is by creating a style guide for your brand. A brand style guide is a rulebook containing all your messaging requirements in order to create a more consistent message for your brand. A good style book saves a lot of time in explaining your messaging requirement to your stakeholders, your new employees and your branding designers.
Use the style guide on each aspect of your messaging such as social media posts, website content design and blogs to give your brand a consistent look. Also, keep on updating your style guide regularly to stay updated with the latest trends for your business.
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9. Become A Storyteller.
Research shows that when stories are told the audience engages with the content.
Google don’t really need to market yet they find ways to share their story through the lives of people.
10. Prepare a One Page Corporate Overview.
This is a vital as a leave behind when you meet a prospect. Use short sentences in short paragraphs people like to read quickly. Also make it very conversational; it’s not a white paper. Your one page overview should include your value proposition, target audience benefits, previous audience experience and a mini-case study and don’t forget your contact information.
11. Making a Press Kit
A press kit is defined as a page on your website that contains resources and information for reporters, publishers and influencers. Having a press kit makes sure that your brand is represented accurately and it is a highly recommended branding tip for small businesses.
Some of the things that a press kit can include are:
· PNG Logos
· Your Company Bio
· Press Contact
· Pictures of your staff, products and services
· Press Releases
· Company Facts
12. Realize That You’re Not in Control of Your Brand.
That’s right, you only set the direction for your brand. Your actual brand image is determined by your audience your customers, employees and vendors.
13. Branding is as much about your people as anything else.
Never forget that the best interactions come from one-on-one conversations between executives, employees, suppliers, and customers. Employees that want to help and do the best job possible go a long way. Branding isn’t a one shot deal, it’s an on-going multitask act of marketing, research and conversation. If you’re not tapping into those conversations with your audience, how do you know what their real impression of you is? How will you know how to address it? Brand growth comes from alignment. You have to ensure that your actions, content, website and marketing efforts put out the right image to your audience.
14. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do.
One of the primary drivers of brand loyalty is a consistent experience. Positive experiences lead to good feelings, which lead to sharing with friends. Don’t forget that bad experiences spread much faster and are harder to overcome if you get a chance at all.
The Bottom Line.
When your Branding and Marketing efforts are aligned around a strong brand strategy, you have a greater ability to influence the things people think and say about you.Without a clear brand in place, marketing can feel like a shot in the dark. But get it right, and your path to profitability and maintaining a loyal customer base becomes a whole lot easier and more predictable.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. - Manisha L. Holiday
The Holiday Firm LLC. is a full-service Business Development, Branding and Public Relations Firm that combines fearless creativity with data-driven insights to drive bottom-line growth for established brands and disruptive early-stage companies.
To learn more about how The Holiday Firm LLC. can help you build and launch a brand that creates lasting, emotional connections with your customers, please get in touch with:
Manisha L. Holiday