Branding Tips for Small Businesses

Five Branding Tips for Small Businesses (and Large Ones Too!)

While most business owners and managers have some understanding of what we marketing types mean when we talk about “branding,” we’ve discovered in working with our own clients, that there are many misconceptions about what makes a strong brand and how to achieve powerful and consistent branding.

Below are five insights we regularly share with our clients at WGI to help them better understand what the challenges are in building a brand and what they need to do to engage their audience and set their business apart from the competition.

A Logo Doesn’t a Brand Make

A logo isn’t your brand. It’s part of your “visual brand identity,” along with your color palette, typeface fonts and the style of photographs you use. By using all these graphic assets consistently in your marketing communications, you begin to build your visual brand identity. That means when people repeatedly see your ads, emails, web pages or marketing brochures, they begin to identify your brand visually even before they read any of the words. But pictures don’t tell the whole story. Just because you’ve taken the plunge and hired a graphic designer to create a logo and website, doesn’t mean you are on your way to creating a successful brand. Sure, people may begin to recognize who you are from your visual brand identity, but they will have no idea what you stand for and what’s important to you. Those are the things that will make them want to engage with you and get to know you. That’s why you also need to craft a strong brand message.

No One Likes a Copy Cat

You can’t differentiate your brand or company by saying exactly the same things your competitors say and do. Seems like a no brainer, right? Time after time we see similar businesses’ websites, ads and marketing materials all touting the exact same benefits: exceptional customer service, friendly staff, X years of experience. See what I mean? The first step in branding is to figure out what makes you uniquely different than every other company out there. What do you offer your customers that no one else can? You have to dig deeper than the surface marketing buzz words every company in your industry uses and describe your business in a way that’s unique to your DNA. It’s called “positioning” and when done right, it’s what sets you apart from the competition and drives sales.

Are You Selling Something or Improving Lives?

A brand promise is not about what you make or what you sell. It about WHY you do what you do. It’s about how you are improving the lives of your customers in a way only you can. It’s about showing us how your customers' lives (and the world, yes, the world!) are better because your company is in them.

Personality Makes You Popular

As human beings our physical attributes and personality are the two things that most strongly differentiate us from everyone else. It’s the same with your business. Consumers and businesses want to align themselves with a company that engages them, interests them and that they click with. You need to make sure your personality shines through in your advertising and marketing and make sure you’re making meaningful connections with potential customers. Are you a warm, compassionate, caring brand? Are you an innovative, bold, take no prisoners brand? Are you a smart, no nonsense, get things done brand? What are the personality attributes that make up your brand? Sit down and think of five right now that define you.

Be Brave

Life is more like high school than most of us like to admit. We are still trying to fit into the world in which we have been thrust and be just like everyone else. This is the kiss of death when it comes to branding. Branding takes courage, self awareness and a lot of moxie because it requires us to be bold, definitive and different. It requires us to put a stake in the ground and proclaim who we are and what we stand for with conviction and that tends to make the stakeholders in a company a little nervous. If you’re truly passionate about your brand and the benefits of what you have to offer…be brave… listen to your gut and forge ahead…the others will follow.