Branding is essential to the success of a small business. With the right kind, you can more easily build strong relationships, show customers what you believe in and stand out from the crowd.
A good branding plan can be tough to pull off — but the right approach can make a significant difference.
Here are 14 tips that can help any small business improve its branding efforts.
1. Know Your Audience
Most branding strategies begin with market research. Know your customers — who they are, what they need and what they’re not getting from businesses right now. This can help you tailor-fit your branding to the audience you have and the one you want to build.
2. Understand What Makes Your Business Unique
Of all the brands in your niche, why should customers shop with yours? Identifying a USP, or unique selling point, can help you sharpen your business’s identity. If you can make a clear argument for why customers should shop with your brand, it can be easier to develop other elements — like packaging, graphic design, tagline and logo.
3. Create a Unique Visual Identity
The look of your brand can affect how customers think about it. A strong visual style can also help your products stand out from the competition online or on store shelves.
Your use of color, shapes and typography all add up to your brand’s visual identity. Unique choices that reinforce company values will help communicate what your business stands for while making your products easier to spot.
4. Develop a Brand Voice
Your writing style is just as important for branding as your logo, name, or use of color and shapes. The words you choose and how you structure your sentences can have a big impact on how customers perceive your business.
A unique voice can help you stand out. Spending time to cultivate a distinct brand feeling can make content marketing more effective and improve your overall advertising efforts.
5. Take a Stand
Taking a stand for your values can show that your business is willing to make a difference. For example, many brands have made sustainability a key goal in packaging and business operations. Investing in sustainable materials, even when there isn’t a clear avenue for return on investment, could convince customers that you’re really committed to what you say you stand for.
6. Provide Value
Customers notice when you go out of your way to provide extra value. For example, freely available content that offers valuable information can be a major traffic draw for your website and a useful brand-building tool.
7. Foster a Sense of Community
Responding to customers on social media, hosting a comments section on your website or getting involved in your local community can all have a big impact on how people feel about your business.
8. Create Content
Content marketing can be a powerful brand-building tool. For example, a consistently updated blog can continuously provide customers with value while strengthening your brand voice.
Content will also help drive traffic to your business’s site — potentially encouraging new sales.
9. Try Physical Advertising
While many businesses put the bulk of their marketing effort into online ads, physical marketing shouldn’t be overlooked. Print signs, while simple, are often effective at highlighting deals or showing off new promotional campaigns. Digital versions allow you to dynamically update displayed graphics throughout the day, and interactive signage is rapidly becoming a popular strategy for offline brand-building efforts.
10. Use Social Media
Most modern small businesses depend on social media in one way or another. Having an account on one or more of the major platforms is a great way to drive leads and get the word out about new marketing campaigns.
Your choice of avatar, banner and page graphics can also help strengthen your brand’s visual identity.
11. Keep Tabs on the Competition
When building your brand, you must also follow the branding efforts of your competitors.
Researching the competition will show you how others are branding themselves. This will make it easier for you to stand out while also providing hints on how you can appeal to customers in your niche.
12. Gather Data
Data can be one of your most valuable assets — especially if you rely heavily on digital marketing.
Using data-collecting tools, like Google Trends or an e-commerce platform’s analytics, is a great way to get hard feedback on your marketing and branding’s success.
Tracking the best brand awareness metrics can help you see what changes and branding decisions are really driving awareness of your business.
Branding is an ongoing effort. Often, before you get your branding, content and assets where you want them, you’ll have to experiment first.
Continuously researching your audience, soliciting feedback and reviewing your branding attempts will help you build better content and visuals in the future.
14. Keep It Consistent
Typically, branding is a long-term project. Consistency in advertising over the course of months and years will help you establish your brand and make customers more likely to believe you really stand for your company’s values.
If you’re struggling with brand consistency, you should create formal brand guides or strategy documents. Even if you’re a solopreneur, this information can provide a valuable touchstone for when you’re trying to remember how you accomplished a certain look or managed a specific tone in the past.
How to Improve Your Small Business’s Branding
Branding is critical for small businesses that want to build strong customer relationships and stand out from the crowd.
These tips are some of the best ways to improve your branding strategy. A distinct visual style, unique voice and clear values can all go a long way in helping you build an identity that works for your business.