“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy”. You’ve probably heard that statement from several politicians before and it’s true. There are far more small businesses in Canada than they are giants. And one of the things that separate giants from smaller companies is how they brand. Too many small businesses pay little attention to branding. But branding is essential no matter the size of business. Employing good small business branding strategies is probably what you need to take your company to a new level.
Consider how you’re currently branding your small business. The typical reason smaller companies hold back on branding is because of budgeting issues. Gigantic organizations spend significant amounts of money on branding, which isn’t feasible for most small businesses. Thankfully, you don’t need a lot of funds to brand your small business like the big businesses today. There are several practical ways to make your company stand out and attract customers without depleting your budget. Here are some small business branding strategies to help you capture the attention of consumers.
1. Establish Your Identity
A brand identity is much more than having a logo. Your brand’s identity is an extension of your values. Typically, this is an extension of the entrepreneur that started the business (e.g. Richard Branson and Virgin Mobile). The identity of your brand includes how clients are treated, manner of communication, appearance, and much more. Essentially, your identity encompasses the brand’s overall feel and how it’s perceived by consumers.
Good brand identity makes your company easily recognizable by consumers. You have to get clear about the business’s identity and consistently deliver value using that image. This includes being consistent with your tone of voice, visual assets, personality, colors, and others.
The following tips can help any small business establish their identity.
- Do the research necessary to intricately understand the target audience. You can use fictional representations of the audience (personas) to accomplish this.
- Develop a content marketing mission statement. This is the value your organization plans on providing the target audience when it communicates via content (e.g. blog posts, videos, etc.).
- Establish what you want your brand to be known for such as high quality, informative, helpful, etc.
- Decide on a focus area that can differentiate your brand from most or all of the competition.
- Find out what’s working in the industry and add anything viable to your strategy.
2. Create an Advertising Slogan
The advertising slogan or motto is an old idea that has withstood the test of time. This is a phrase that unites a company’s marketing campaign. A slogan is like a mini-mission statement that summarizes your organization’s intent and values. Creating a slogan is affordable and any company can do it. Sadly, this small business branding strategy is often overlooked. But here’s the thing.
Consumers remember great brands by their slogans. Here are some good examples of slogans that trigger brand recognition.
- Nike – “Just do it”.
- Apple – “Think different”.
- Google – “Do the right thing”.
Think of a slogan that can accompany your marketing assets (e.g. logo, proposals, etc.). You can have multiple slogans for different campaigns or purposes. However, organizations like the aforementioned examples tend to stick with one slogan but make adjustments to it in the future as necessary.
3. Become a Subject Matter Expert
Content marketing makes it possible for small businesses to affordably reach more people. However, the cost can rise significantly when the strategy involves producing content about several subject matters. That’s why it’s better to become a subject matter expert. This approach is budget-friendly and introduces focus to your small business branding strategy. Also, becoming an expert in your field is a good brand awareness strategy.
You should always focus on the solution your product provides. For example, an insurance agency can publish articles about insurance. Things like “how to buy insurance for a used car” or “why life insurance is important” are both good topics.
The benefits of becoming a subject matter expert include the following. Though not a limited list.
- The company can showcase its industry experience and expertise.
- You’ll eventually become the go-to source for information in your industry.
- Today consumers are more likely to trust businesses that share information.
- Your brand will remain top of mind whenever people need the solutions you offer.
To begin, you’ll need to conduct keyword research, a process for uncovering terms or phrases used by consumers to search for information online. Refer to the following article for a how-to guide. Free Keyword Research With Google Keyword Tool
Also, you can meet your target audience at each stage of the buyer journey (awareness, interest, shop, buy). So consider grouping each uncovered keyword according to the stage it belongs.
4. Build a Community
Brands like Google, Facebook, Skype, Microsoft, and others invest a significant amount of resources to build communities around their products. These companies understand that building communities around products, as well as nurturing and growing them leads to more revenue. The good news is you don’t have to spend like those brands to build communities today.
Any small business can concentrate on building and growing a community around its offerings in the digital age. This is because consumers frequent the Internet for information and as previously noted, content marketing is very affordable. You can build online communities on social platforms (e.g. Instagram) and your small business website.
However, don’t be overly focussed on platforms you don’t control such as social media. That’s because these companies can change the rules whenever they feel like it. For instance, there was a time when Facebook had great organic reach. The reach was so good that many businesses forgot about their websites entirely. Unfortunately for those companies, Facebook started reducing organic reach in favor of ad revenue and even now, organic reach continues to decline.
Instead, use other platforms as a means of driving traffic to your website because it’s a platform you 100% control. Furthermore, you can’t be everywhere simultaneously because a lot of work goes into building communities. So pick a few platforms and spend resources there.
Small Business Branding Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
The small business branding tips laid out here can help you take your company to the next level. Effective branding doesn’t necessarily require massive adverting budgets but it does demand focus and creativity. A good exercise is to imagine yourself as a customer of the thing you want to sell. Then visualize the kind of company you would want to do business with. Consistency, great customer service, helpful, informative, expert, etc. are some of the things that may come to mind.
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