Danielle St. Cyr
Building Your Small Business Brand
Often people think that brand building is something that only huge corporations do, but it’s incredibly important even when you’re just starting your business or you’re still relatively small. A brand is the collection of all of the interactions a customer or potential customer has with your company, across all mediums (online, in store, email, print, etc.). Having a strong brand means that a consumer instantly associates your logo or company with a feeling and your product – and hopefully that feeling is positive. How can you make sure that feeling is positive? By crafting your brand carefully, using the following tips…
Know your why
What is your company’s mission? Your vision? Do you have them clearly defined and actually written down? Think about it – if you can’t clearly define these things, how can you communicate them to your audience? Knowing your why enables you to speak from a place of authenticity, to be true to your company and your values, in all that you do.
Understand your ideal customer
In order to reach them effectively with your brand, you have to know your target audience. You need to know who the people are that will buy your product or service and why they need it. This means thinking about things like age, parental status, occupation, location, hobbies, or anything you think might describe your customer. What problem are you solving in their life with your product? Why would they buy your product? You may find that you have several “ideal customers”, and that’s fine too.
If someone were to compare you and some of your competitors, why would they choose you? This is what makes your company unique – your brand differentiation. It’s important to be able to very clearly define this, as you’ll want to be able to communicate this to potential customers. Whatever this unique thing is, it’s what you’ll want to become known for. And it can be as niche or specific as you want; remember, you’re not competing against the whole world.
Design a good logo
The most recognizable part of any company is often its logo. It’s on everything, from the website to the packaging to the side of the building. You want to choose wisely. It’s a good idea to work with a designer on this, and if you don’t have one in-house, there are many companies and freelancers that are happy to help small businesses design a logo (like us!). Your logo should both reflect your company and communicate trust, so you want it to be both eye catching and have a strong presence.
Have a recognizable brand voice
Brand voice is the tone your copy takes to the public – on your website, on social, in print, and in emails you send to your lists. It’s important to figure out what make sense for your company. Are you a lighthearted, fun company that often peppers jokes in throughout your writing? Or are you a more studious research-oriented organization that sticks to facts and data? This is where knowing your audience is crucial – there’s no use writing with the voice the company thinks it should have if it’s not the voice your audience wants to read! Your brand voice is what helps people connect to your company on an emotional level.
Create brand guidelines
Your brand guidelines encompass everything from what fonts and colors you use on your website and presentations to clients to a description of your brand voice. The goal is consistency – you want someone who sees an Instagram post from your company to be able to immediately identify that it is from you without even looking at the name of the account. This means that the person is remembering you, and associating you with a look, feeling, and hopefully, product. You also want anyone to be able to come in and immediately be able to create work that looks like it came from your company, even if it’s their first day.
Provide a quality product & deliver value
This sounds like a no brainer, but it needs to be said. We’ve all seen the companies that pop up overnight, there’s an incredibly effective social media and print blitz, everyone buys the widget, the widget kinda sucks, and the company disappears. You don’t want to be a flash in the pan; you want to grow and maintain your company for the future. Set clear, reasonable expectations, and keep your promises. Provide good customer service, and be responsive to your customers (this includes social!) You want your customers to associate your brand with quality to ensure longevity. Your customers can be your best brand ambassadors! Word of mouth and customer social shares are incredibly effective marketing strategies, but they only happen with good quality products.
The most beloved brands are often those who take a stand for (or against) something and follow it up with action. So be daring and take the risk to have an opinion! This will help you connect with your customers emotionally and grow a community of like-minded people around your brand. Yes, you might turn off a few people, but the people you attract with be devoted to you and your company, and will spread your message (and word of your product!) far and wide. And you will certainly have some lively conversations…
A strong brand can communicate trust and reliability, quality, and a strong social message, and help you grow your community of customers. Being thoughtful and methodical about building your brand will mean that you will carve out a place where your company can thrive. If you’d like some guidance about developing your brand, we’d love to help – contact us and we can get started today!