If you own a small business, you might be fooled into thinking that you don’t have to worry about branding. It’s only the big companies, you know, like McDonalds and M&S that need to worry about all of that. They’re the ones that have adverts on TV and use billboards. If you’re trading and getting business and you haven’t thought about your brand, then it’s not something you need to be concerned about. Right? Think again.
Branding is just another word for your reputation. Or think about it as the impression your business makes on others. We all want to make a good impression, right? Fair enough if marketing and branding isn’t your strong point. There are people out there who can point you in the right direction. But don’t keep putting off creating a brand just because other things get in the way or you think you don’t need to.
I like Shopify’s definition of branding:
“Branding is all of the ways you establish an image of your company in your customers’ eyes.”
This is also thought-provoking from entrepreneur.com:
“Your brand is your promise to your customer.”
So, creating a brand, no matter what the size your business, helps you to convey what is unique about your business, as well as showing you in a positive light to your potential customers. Think about the impression you want to make, and then take steps to manage that impression. Notice that both definitions talk about the customer. Even though branding might not be high on your list of priorities, it’s important to your potential customer. In this day and age we are bombarded with brands trying to stand out from the crowd. If you don’t pay attention to branding, you’ll be left eating your competitors’ dust.
Still need to be convinced? It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Here’s what you need to do:
- Think about your unique selling points (USPs). Make a list.
- Think about your ideal customer. Who are they? What do they like/dislike? What is their age/job/sex? What are their hobbies? What keeps them up at night?
- Where are you positioning yourself in the market? High-end? Mid-range? Low cost?
When you are clear on the above, make sure that all aspects of your business are singing from the same song sheet.
It’s crucial that you apply your values consistently across all of your marketing channels. This might take a bit of work, but it’s worth it to connect with your target audience. Being consistent will avoid confusing your ideal client and risking them taking their business elsewhere.
So which marketing channels do you need to consider when branding your new business or re-branding your current one?
- Your company name
- Your tagline
- Your website design
- Your website copy and tone of voice
- Your social media presence and content
- Your print marketing materials (brochures/leaflets)
- Your communications with clients (emails/proposals/briefs/letters/invoices/answerphone message)
- Your e-newsletters
- Your blog posts
- Your video marketing
- And, of course, your business cards!
All of the above should have a consistent message. So if you’re an adventure travel company, your brand name and marketing materials need to convey excitement, fun and adventure. If you’re an undertaker, you would normally come across as respectful, professional, experienced, sympathetic and organised.
And remember, branding is more than just getting a logo. It encompasses the entire customer experience – your website, the social media experience, the way you answer the phone, the way your customers experience your service, and the quality of your printed materials. If you’re using print, make sure you choose something you feel proud to give out.
That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive (far from it, actually), but don’t try to cut corners using template websites which create cookie-cutter designs the same as every other plumber/florist/caterer in the country. Is that all your business is worth? Spend your limited budget well – get a professional, unique design created especially for your business, and order decent quality print.
Nothing will make you feel better – or give your potential customer more confidence in you and your business – than the pride you feel handing them a beautifully-designed, well-printed business card. They’ll remember you for the right reasons.
Still think it’s not for you? Here are more reasons why you can’t ignore the power of branding:
- Good branding increases the value of a company
- Effective branding makes it easier to get customers
- Branding improves recognition – an effective logo is easy for customers to remember and creates familiarity
- Branding creates trust – people are more likely to buy from a company that appears polished and branded
- Branding inspires employees (if you have any)
- Branding sets you apart from the competition
- A strong brand generates referrals – this makes it easier to get your business out there if you don’t have a big marketing budget
- Branding helps customers know what to expect
- Your brand helps you to be strategic and guides your marketing efforts saving you time and money
- Your brand helps you connect emotionally with your customers – do people feel good when they buy from you? Buying is an emotional experience.
If your business doesn’t yet have a brand or you need your brand revamping, give Gaynor Carr a shout at The Smart Station.