Once upon a time, small business owners didn’t worry about branding. After all, it was reserved for major industries with a large reach – small businesses didn’t see why they needed it. Times have changed. With the advent of the internet, small businesses can have just as much reach as multinational corporations.
However, this means that a gap has been created in the quality of branding. Because so few small businesses are skilled at branding, many approach it from the wrong angle. Here are a few essential tips for branding that small businesses must keep in mind.
1. Your brand is the sum total of your company, not just a logo
The ideals of your company, your mission statement, your customer service, all the way down to the colors of your storefront – all of these things make up your branding. A brand is both tangible and intangible, but one thing it must be is consistent. If you find your brand suffers because of one area, pinpoint what that problem may be and correct it.
2. Figure out your target market
Every business has an ‘ideal customer’ – the person you would love to see walk through your door. Take the time to figure out who this customer is. Are they male or female? How old are they? What kind of hobbies do they have, and what are they looking for in your store? Once you identify your target demographic, not only can you better build your brand, but all of your future marketing campaigns will be more successful.
3. Look at what the competition is doing
Unless you pick a truly obscure niche, you’ll have competitors. This isn’t a bad thing; pay attention to what your competitors are doing and figure out what you can do to imitate them. If they launch a particularly successful marketing campaign, research further into it and find out what worked for them, as well as why. This knowledge can then be taken and applied to your own future campaigns. Researching the competition is also helpful for identifying the standard elements for your brand. It can help you stand out from the crowd.
4. Create your message
After you’ve identified your target market and taken the time to research the competition, you need to create a core message that will be at the center of your brand from this point forward. As an example, think of Nike’s slogan: “Just do it.” They promote taking action and jumping in headfirst. Hesitancy has no place in their brand. What kind of message do you want your brand to send? It can be worthwhile to take some time and consider this before moving forward.
5. Promote your brand both online and off
It’s crucial that you draw attention to your brand in both online and offline arenas. Online marketing can be done through pay per click advertising, organic search engine optimization, and other traditional methods; however, offline marketing is arguably far more competitive. Take an advertisement out in the local newspaper, rent a billboard, pay for a radio or television spot or consider handing out promotional products (like these umbrellas), which could be perfect for promoting brand awareness. After researching your target demographic, you should know which of these methods will reach the most people in the least time.
Taking the time to research your market, your competition, and create your own message is the core of any branding campaign. However, branding doesn’t stop at its inception. You must continue to grow your brand, firmly establishing it in the minds of every customer who comes through your doors or employs your services. Build a brand of excellent customer service, quality products or services, and set yourself apart from the completion. Doing this will ensure that your brand will never fade away.