[This article was written by Jade Parker.]
Branding has never been more important. But you don’t need me to tell you that.
When I first went into the workplace, branding was seen as something that was nice to have. Small companies, in particular, saw it as an unnecessary expense, not realizing that developing a brand is what helps to turn small businesses into large businesses in the first place.
Nowadays, I spend a lot of time working with local businesses, and it seems to me that branding is the most underrated tool in the small business owner’s toolkit. People understand innovation and can learn to network and to manage staff through feeling alone, but branding takes a concentrated effort that too often gets overlooked.
That’s why I like to share my seven top tips for small business branding. They’ve worked for many of my clients, and now it’s time to hand them over to you. Let’s get started.
1. Set a goal
You can’t do anything effectively until you know what you want to achieve, and branding is no different. Don’t set monetary goals (like “make $1 million in sales”) – instead, think about what you want to be known for. Facebook connects people. Google provides easy access to information. What do you want to accomplish? Figure it out and keep it in the back of your mind so that your visual and verbal identities are able to reflect it.
2. Get a good logo
Your logo will appear on all sorts of marketing collateral, from posters and business cards to websites and social networks. That’s why you’ll want to make sure that you have a professional logo that reflects your company and which can represent you no matter where it’s used.
3. Decide upon a color scheme
Using a set color scheme can help to create a consistent look and feel. When you think about Coca Cola, for example, you think of the color red. By establishing an official color scheme, you can make sure that the inside of your store looks like your website and that all marketing materials look consistent.
4. Establish a tone of voice
This doesn’t have to be a huge, all-encompassing document – you simply need to take a little time to figure out how you want to talk to people and what emotions you want them to feel. Are you serious or playful? Are you irreverent or conservative? Figure out what you want your brand to mean and use that to inform everything you release.
5. Don’t skimp on cost
If you need to work with a professional, work with a professional. Use sites like PeoplePerHour and Upwork to find and hire people who can help you to take your branding to the next level. Trust me – people will notice if it’s done badly.
6. Gather feedback
Ask your customers what they think about your branding, preferably by gathering both qualitative and quantitative feedback. While you don’t want to change your brand too often in case you confuse consumers, you can often take their feedback and apply it to make minor improvements.
7. Deploy it
The whole point of branding is that it can be applied all over your company across everything that it does. Make sure that your logo and color scheme are in use on email signatures, interior color schemes, and any packaging, and make sure that employees adhere to your tone of voice when they answer the door or talk to people on the phone.
A strong brand can make or break your business, and yet too many business owners fail to take the time to build one. Then, when a new competitor starts to steal customers, they’re quick to play the blame game, forgetting that they had ample opportunity to build a brand that people would love.
Ultimately, branding doesn’t have to take up a huge amount of time and resources, and yet it has a positive impact on your business, especially over time. It’ll make you more consistent, especially when it’s presented to the general public, and it’ll show the world that you know what you’re doing when it comes to managing your business.
And you do know what you’re doing, right? Good! Now it’s time for you to prove it.
Jade Parker runs a small business and finds her passion in writing at assignment masters. She also finds inspiration in working with other people to help them to build strong marketing and branding strategies and to network with other business owners.