Branding a Small Business: How to Stand Out in an Ocean of Competition
Branding isn't only for multi-million-dollar corporations with big budgets. It's even more important for small businesses.
There are over 30 million small businesses in the United States alone. The competition is overwhelming, especially online.
So, here’s a question for you:
How are you going to get prospective customers to see that they should choose you over a competitor?
If you think telling them how great your product or service is will do the trick, think again.
Creating unique value is the key to generating more demand for your offer. But that’s easier said than done.
This is why branding a small business is more important than ever.
In this article you will learn:
- how branding makes it easier to get customers through networking and referrals
- what a brand identity is and how to create one for your business
- keys to branding success
Will They Remember You?
Many small businesses use the same tactics to get new customers.
Attending events and trade shows.
Social media posts and a few ads.
Referrals from associates and strategic alliances.
These are the most natural and reliable ways to look for leads. But most of the people you meet won’t be ready to buy from you. On average, 80% of prospects say no four times before they say yes.
That means you have a lot of follow-up to do. In the meantime, you must stay top-of-mind so that when they’re ready to talk, they will think of you first.
Branding your business helps you stay top-of-mind. It makes you more memorable. It also helps you avoid wasting time on unqualified leads and attracting better ones.
Let me give you something to think about.
Consumers have more choices than ever before. Whether you live in a big city or a small town, they can go almost anywhere to get what you sell.
Telling people “I do good work and provide great service” won’t convince them to buy. Why?
Because your competitors are telling them that too. People are skeptical and cynical. They’ve heard it all before. For this reason, many marketing tactics don’t work as well as they once did.
If you’re using a marketing “system” or looking for the latest growth “hacks”, you may end up disappointed. What works for someone else won’t always work for you.
Stop trying to convince people to buy and quit searching for magic bullets. Instead, make it easier for people to see that you’re different. Show people how your product or service is unique.
If that’s what you want to do, keep reading. I’ll show you how to brand a small business and get results.
READ MORE: What Is Branding and Why Is It Important?
Who Are You?
A brand identity brings your business to life and makes it unique. This is important because people want more from you than big promises and a catchy slogan. They buy from people and companies they know, like, and trust.
Like human beings, businesses have:
Unique appearances. A logo, color scheme, fonts, and other images comprise a business’s visual appearance.
Their own “voice”. The language and tone used in all brand communication will establish your voice. This voice could be authoritative, friendly, casual, formal, etc.
Cliques. A business’s persona will attract a certain audience while turning others off. The idea is to make sure your business has a persona that attracts the right customers.
Status. This is an unfortunate reality of life but it’s true. Like human beings, businesses have classes and status. Revenue and brand awareness are examples of characteristics that define a business’s status.
All the concepts above apply to personal brands too.
Now, let’s look at the elements of a brand identity in more detail.
All visual elements should align with the brand identity you want to create.
Here are examples of visual brand assets:
- Social media covers
- Blog post images
- Business cards
- Uniforms and apparel
It takes approximately five to seven impressions for people to remember a brand. Yet, color improves brand recognition by 80%. The colors you choose make a difference.
This article gives several examples of how color influences sales conversions. This strategy isn’t only for large companies with millions to spend. It works for small businesses and entrepreneurs too.
Brand Voice and Tone
Once you know who your target audience is, you need to customize your business’s tone and voice to fit them. Remember, it isn’t just what you say, but how you say it.
Think of voice as the expression of words and messages. Some brand voices are formal and sophisticated, others are warm and casual.
For instance, if you’re a mortgage lender, the heading of your website may read something like this:
“We make every effort to provide the best financing solutions available.”
This is a formal voice.
But if your audience prefers a more casual voice, it might read:
“We’ll make sure you get the best rate possible!”
Similar statements expressed much differently.
Tone can fluctuate, depending on the message and who you’re targeting. For instance, empathy may work well for one offer while an authoritative tone is better for another.
Who Is Your Customer?
You can’t be all things to all people. A profile of your ideal customer can help you identify the best target audience for your brand. These are the people best-suited for your offer.
Though “ideal” customers are hard to find, having a profile will improve the quality of prospects.
Get specific. As you think of your ideal customer, list everything that comes to mind. Use this information to create a mental picture of the person. How would you communicate with them and where can you find them?
You may discover that you can’t serve your ideal customer now. If that is the case, determine what new products and services you need to develop so you can.
Where Are Your Customers?
Most small businesses spend too much time guessing where their prospects are. And even when they know, they cast a net that is too wide. Both approaches result in overspending on marketing and advertising.
Branding a small business relies on promotion—a lot of it. The key question to ask in this step is, “Where are my prospective customers?”
The more specific you are, the more successful your marketing will be. You will also spend less to find them.
Preparation separates great brand marketing from bad. Each time you come up with an for idea promoting your business, make sure it aligns with your brand. This system of “checks and balances” removes much of the guesswork.
Times have changed. Two out of three people want to buy from companies they feel a connection to.
Consumers want companies and salespeople to care about more than just making money. This number will continue to grow in the years to come.
Let’s face it. When it comes right down to it, businesses must make a profit or their doors won’t be open long. And even though people love to buy, they hate the sales process. But many business owners want to skip to the sale before building the connection.
The businesses that will thrive are the ones that make the connection first, sell second.
As I mentioned earlier that people are more skeptical and cynical than ever before. They also have more information available to them than at any other time in history. Consumers hold the buying power and they know it.
Your brand communication and content marketing should develop a connection with prospective customers. This is even true for ads. Look for every opportunity to build a relationship with your audience.
Whether it’s going to the gym, eating healthy, or managing our emotions, consistency is a challenge for most of us. Yet we know it often separates success from failure.
This is true for branding. While there is some debate over how many “touches” it takes to close a sale, it’s almost always more than one.
You never know how many people who come into contact with your business today will be seeing it for the first time. Even if you’ve been repeating the same messages again and again, it will be new for most people.
Keep messaging consistent. As time passes, more people will hear it which means you’ll be making more impressions and contacts. Before you know it, you’ll be making more sales too.
Branding your small business will help you stand out, get noticed, and win more sales. It will give you an advantage over your competitors because they probably aren’t doing it.
Focus on what your business does and who it serves. Develop a brand identity that aligns with the target market you want to reach. Explore your ideal client profile and focus on connecting with them.
If you have questions, email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,