It’s estimated that there are over 31 million small businesses in the United States alone. How do you gain recognition?
The right branding will help distinguish you in this massive crowd. And that’s what we’re going to discuss today — branding tips for small business that will help your brand stand out and get the attention it deserves.
But before we get into specific branding and positioning tips for small business, let’s look at a few factors that all small businesses should consider for their branding and positioning strategy.
What to Think About When Developing Your Brand
First of all, what is branding? Is it a catchy slogan? A cool logo? Perhaps a witty name?
For some, this might be as far as branding goes. But effective branding and positioning for small business — the kind that propels your business forward — includes much more.
Good branding creates a sense of familiarity, affection, and loyalty for your brand. It builds trust in you as an industry leader.
So what factors should you consider as you brand your small business?
- Your Brand Positioning: Your brand positioning is what sets your brand apart from others in your industry and motivates your audience to select your product or service over others. As we’ve discussed in the past, brand positioning is about more than listing your features. It’s about highlighting your value and benefits — all the ways you help your audience.
- Your Brand Personality: Your personality is how you personify your brand through your audience interactions, your brand voice and tone, and your responses to people in email and social media. These actions help your audience to visualize your brand. Your brand personality might be funny, sincere, serious, quirky, or any number of other qualities. It’s completely up to you.
- Your Brand Promise: Every brand makes promises or claims about their product or service. You need to nail down your promise, ensuring you offer value and promises you can keep. Otherwise, you open yourself up to distrust and even a negative image of your brand that will be hard to shake.
As we go deeper into branding and positioning for small business, we’re going to hit on more of these points. But these are the building blocks of building a solid branding strategy.
With that in mind, let’s now look at specific branding tips for small business that can help you to stand out.
10 Branding Tips for Small Business That Will Put You on the Map
1. Do Your Research
Learn all you can about your industry, your target audience, even your competitors. This might seem like an insignificant step, but trust me — learning as much as you can helps lay a solid foundation on which to build your brand.
Learning about your competitors gives you a window int their target audience is, positioning, and even mistakes that they’ve made.
With this research under your belt, you can more confidently create a branding and positioning strategy, decide on elements you want to include in your brand and avoid pitfalls others have made before you.
2. Continue to Make Your Product or Service Great
The process of innovating and making your product great doesn’t end after you launch. Continue to do so by listening to your audience’s concerns and paying attention to new trends. Adjust your product or service as needed and become even more valuable to your audience.
There are many brands that exemplify this. Think of Apple — if the company stopped innovating after its first iPhone, it may have quickly become obsolete. But even now, it continues to innovate to keep up with the most current needs and trends. Sadly there are plenty of other brands who didn’t innovate or update their products — think for example of Blackberry or PalmPilot.
Whether you have a product or service, keep abreast of industry trends and seek new ways to help.
3. Grow a Solid Community
A community adds incredible value to your brand. The community can support you, act as brand ambassadors, provide valuable feedback, and attract others to your brand.
There are many places, both online and offline, where you can build a strong community. It could be social media networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. Or through your company’s blog or email newsletter. Offline, think annual conferences or trade publications to build your community.
Whatever channels you choose, avoid the mistake of being too many places at once. Otherwise you risk not being able to devote enough time to any of them. Pick one or two networks and build a truly strong and connected community.
4. Keep Your Promises
Keeping your brand promises is extremely important. If you don’t, you risk creating a loss of trust and a negative image that can be hard to recover from.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many brands burn bridges simply by failing to keep one of their initial promises.
From the beginning, focus on making promises that you can keep. And don’t stop there. Go above and beyond. Do you promise to get back to your customer queries within 12 hours? Make a real effort to get back to them earlier. Do you promise to send your product within 5 business days? Try to speed that up whenever possible and pleasantly surprise your customer.
When you keep and exceed promises like this, you create a brand that inspires loyalty.
5. Develop Your Voice
A brand voice is your brand’s tone, personality, and language. So no matter who writes your content or speaks for your brand — from your founder to your office intern — every message should reflect your brand’s voice and sound similar note,
Here are a few examples of brand voices…
- Serious, professional, polite, and competent.
- Quirky, with a sense of humor, and lighthearted.
- Warm, sincere, thoughtful, and compassionate.
Whatever you want your brand voice to be, take time to develop it. Write it down and make sure everyone on your team understands it and uses it.
6. Be Consistent
Don’t confuse your audience with mixed messages. For example, some brands use a business-like, serious tone on their website, a playful tone on social media, and a quirky tone in their emails. This can make each network feel like a completely different company.
Instead, establish one brand voice and be consistent with it throughout all your channels. And if you have different people taking care of several channels, make sure that they all understand that one voice and can personify it well.
When you establish a consistent brand presence across all of your channels, it leads to familiarity and trust in your brand.
7. Tell a Gripping Story
Brand storytelling is absolutely critical today.
Instead of reciting dry facts about your company, turn those facts into an irresistible story that captivates your audience and draws them closer to your company.
Your brand’s story could include…
- What motivated you to start your brand.
- The ups and downs you experienced as you started and grew the brand.
- Philosophies and values that guided you along the way
- How you feel your products and services reflect your key values.
Developing your storytelling abilities is an important skill. First, storytellling captures the attention of your audience from the get go. Second, it helps your audience connect with you. This creates a sense of loyalty and comradery between your brand and your audience.
8. Deliver Real Value
Value doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. Some people view value as finding the lowest price. Others define value as top-of-the-line products and services. Still others find value in great customer service.
Find out what value means to your audience. It will most likely be a combination of things. But once you know what’s important to them, build in features and procedures that deliver the best value.
9. Take a Stand
Some of the best brands in the world take sides on and stand up for important issues. This draws them closer to their audience, who are happy to support brands that have the same values and ideals as they do.
A current example of this is the brands helping Ukrainian refugees. For example, Kellogg’s donated $1 million dollars and Hilton up to 1 million rooms for Ukrainian refugees and these are just a few examples of brands taking action.
And brands have been doing this in many ways for years. Some brands use their time and resources to help a needy population. Others develop products, such as software, to help and support a cause they value.
Think about what you and your team are passionate about and brainstorm ways that your company can stand up for and support that cause.
10. Nurture Relationships with Your Audience
Your audience can be your most powerful ally. When they love your brand, the whole world knows it. They talk about it with their friends and family and even speak up and defend it on social media.
But to get this kind of powerful ally, you need to invest the time to nurture a relationship with your audience.
Start by learning about your audience. How can you go above and beyond the expected to make a great impression with them? Have you considered offering an incentive for people to share your brand with their network. Over time, this can create an incredibly powerful partnership.
Concluding Thoughts on Small Business Branding
Branding is an ongoing process. Return to these branding tips for small business from time to time to see how your branding is measuring up. Circumstances change and branding goals can shift.
If branding seems a little overwhelming right now, you might even consider small business branding services. Professional services like this have the power to bring new, experienced eyes to your brand and help it stand out in new ways.
I hope these branding tips for small business help your own brand to flourish!
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