10 Actionable Steps for Small Business Brand Building
In today’s competitive business environment, one of the best ways of standing out is by building your brand. Small business brand building will help you go toe to toe with companies that have larger marketing budgets. Remember that your brand is your identity and it’s what gives your business a unique voice that resonates with customers. In fact, 59% of consumers prefer to purchase new products from trusted brands they know well.
Building a brand allows you to connect at a deeper level with your target audience while boosting your level of awareness within the market. Small business brand building goes far beyond spending marketing dollars. Even with a catchy logo and timely ads, you may still need to do more when branding your business and giving it a unique voice.
Understanding brand building
Your brand is the blueprint that defines your business. Think of it as a way of giving your company a persona that will be recognized by many different parties (including your customers, employees, and investors). When a customer thinks about your business, your brand is the first thing that will come to mind.
There’s so much buzz that surrounds brand building, which has led to many common misconceptions. For example, some business owners assume you have to spend a lot of money to develop your brand. Others assume, once you have your brand established, you’re done. However, in reality, you need to continually work at spreading awareness of your brand and ensuring every facet of your company, from your marketing messaging to customer service, aligns with your branding.
Small business brand building is about understanding the core values of your business and living up to them consistently. It’s also about connecting emotionally with your customers and developing loyalty through your unique business identity.
Actionable steps for brand building
With a firm understanding of what a brand is (and how it applies to your business), here are 10 actionable steps that will help you build a solid brand and compete with any other business in the market.
1. Define what your business stands for
The first step toward small business brand building is defining what your company stands for. Every entrepreneur starts a business for specific reasons. They may be looking to solve a problem, achieve a personal goal, or have an effect on the community. Reflect on why you started your business in the first place and how your products/services connect with these goals. This “soul searching” process will help you align your branding strategy with your identity, values, and mission.
You should also take time to develop a vision and mission statement. Your company’s vision is the motivating factor behind your operations. For example, if you sell medical supplies, your vision may be to reduce the occurrence of a particular health condition. The mission statement is an expression of your vision, broken down into actionable steps that you can take every single day.
Align your mission statement to your business identity and proudly display it in your office and website.
2. Determine your primary audience
Perhaps the biggest mistake that small companies make is casting their net too wide. You can’t catch all the fish in the sea, but you can design your net to catch a specific type of fish. The same concept applies to small business brand building. Start by determining who your target audience is and developing a message that resonates accordingly.
You can determine your primary audience by developing buyer personas. Consider factors such as age, gender, income, location, and education when establishing buyer personas. If you need to be more specific, create detailed categories such as family settings, goals, and influences.
The main idea is to narrow your focus and tailor your message to a specific audience. A targeted approach will not only improve your branding efforts, but it will also increase the ROI of future marketing campaigns.
3. Develop a messaging strategy
One of the cornerstones of building a brand is developing a solid messaging strategy. The nature and tone of your messages will determine how customers respond and whether they’ll feel a connection with your overall business identity. Messaging applies to many different parts of your business. From product descriptions used online to the ad copy you will prepare for advertisements, you need a consistent and relevant message that will increase awareness.
Start by giving your business a voice that your customers will relate to. The tone should align with your products and services. For example, a professional tone may work well with safety equipment or home alarm systems. A conversational and fun tone is perfect for fashion or kid’s clothing. Speak to your customers with a consistent tone, whether it’s professional, friendly, informative, or conversational.
4. Establish a strong online presence
Boosting your online visibility is an essential part of small business brand building. Two billion people purchase goods and services online. Therefore, if you wish to connect with your target audience and develop a brand, you need to have a strong online presence. This starts with your website.
Every aspect of your brand should be reflected on your site from the tone you use to the products you display. Your online platforms should speak to the emotional cues of your customers and the identity of your business. Pay attention to the colors, design, and text that is present on your webpages. Also, remember that consistency is key. Decide on a theme that works well for your overall identity and stick to it throughout your website. For example, if you choose a specific font or background color, keep it consistent so that your target audience doesn’t get confused.
5. Keep an eye on your competitors
While your goal should be to stand out from the competition, you should always remain in the loop as to what competing brands are doing. The purpose of carrying out a competitor analysis is to identify opportunities and improve them in your own way. For example, you may realize that a competing brand is doing well because they have a catchy name and a simple, quality product. These insights may motivate you to simplify your messaging strategy and to clean up your product descriptions.
Start by analyzing two to three competing businesses so you can identify room for improvement. Consider how these small businesses are designing their messages, products, social media presence, and customer service.
Another reason why you should keep an eye out for the competition is so you can further differentiate yourself from what’s out there. Your goal should be to identify a unique messaging strategy, product, or niche audience that will help you gain a competitive edge. In this way, your customers will think of your business in a different (and more positive) light.
6. Take good care of your customers
Perhaps the most common (and arguably most effective) branding strategy for small businesses is customer service. If you take good care of your customers, they’re more likely to come back and establish a connection with your brand. In addition, businesses across the country lose $41 billion every year because of poor customer service. Even with a strong marketing strategy, online presence, and buyer personas, you won’t be able to build a strong brand without treating your customers the right way.
Quality customer service involves all parts of the business. Therefore, your ultimate goal should be to develop a consistent and quality experience for every person from the time they first engage with your company through to the after-purchase experience.
The next step is to establish a culture that prioritizes the needs of your customers at all times. This means training employees on the importance of customer service, and staying on top of customer concerns.
7. Remain active on social media
An active social media presence is also important for small business brand building. The good thing about social media is that you can connect directly with your target audience with no barriers to how many people you can reach (there are currently over 3 billion people on social media). Start by developing branded social media pages that reflect your business identity. Each page should have your logo, mission statement tagline, and messaging strategy.
Next, use your buyer personas to gradually build up a following by posting content that customers will love. For example, a small boat repair company may build a buzz on social media by posting informative content about boats, sharing attractive images, and responding to user comments. Consistency is key as you shouldn’t allow your social platforms to go dull (don’t go for months without posting any content).
8. Identify what sets you apart and emphasize it
The purpose of carrying out a competitor analysis in the previous step was to identify what sets you apart. Even when your business is selling a similar product (or providing a similar service) to another company, you can still stand out from the crowd and communicate what makes you unique.
Just think about some of the most popular brands out there–Apple, Uber, Walmart. All these companies provide goods or services that other businesses may provide but they do it with a difference. During your small business brand-building efforts, emphasize the little details that make you stand out. Do you offer fully organic foods to customers? Are your products made in the USA? Do you offer competitive prices? Do you accept returns even after 30 days? Identify what sets you apart and make it the key focus of your branding strategy. You will also have an easier time designing targeted ads that speak to your unique value proposition.
9. Establish an emotional connection with your target audience
Branding is all about connecting with your customers at a deeper level. When customers think about your products and services, they should perceive your business in a specific way. For example, a business that sells toys should be viewed by kids (and parents) as a source of joy and excitement. If you sell souvenirs, your aim should be to have travelers view your business with a sense of nostalgia. An emotional connection will ultimately translate into customer loyalty and referrals. Connecting emotionally also creates trust between your company and its customers.
There is a lot that goes into sparking an emotional connection. It all starts with your company’s vision and mission. Every time a customer purchases one of your products or services, they should feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. For example, if you are driven by environmental sustainability, you should proudly display your mission statement within easy sight of your target audience. Your green initiatives may attract like-minded customers.
Also, consider developing a messaging strategy, voice, and tone that will resonate with your buyer personas and ignite customer loyalty. Finally, producing quality products is key to establishing a deep emotional connection.
10. Choose a catchy name that’s easy to remember
Many of the strategies mentioned above are quite detailed and technical. So here is an easy one that also works: choose a catchy name. This may sound obvious but many small business owners do not realize they have chosen a complicated name that does not resonate with customers. The attention span of most people today is less than that of a goldfish (which is only 8 seconds long). Therefore, a complex name will likely put off your potential customers and make your branding strategy harder to achieve. Keep your business name simple, catchy, and easy to remember.
If you are looking to turn your small business into a highly recognized brand, Madison Ave Media are the experts you can trust to get the job done. We are a passionate team of digital marketing and social media professionals, and we focus on elevating the visibility of small businesses. Our dedicated team has the experience necessary to work with companies in many different fields. From establishing a strong online presence to identifying your target audience, you can count on Madison Ave Media to get tangible results and steady growth. Are you ready to start your small business branding journey? Contact us today.