Branding is just as important for small businesses as it is for big corporates. In fact, when every dollar you spend has to outperform every other possible place you could spend it, you need to be laser focused with your marketing spend.

Many small business owners (less than $2 million annual revenue) have the freedom and flexibility to create their own brand, because they’re not tied to international brand guidelines from a mother company; Small businesses are able to really distil who they are, why they do what they do and where they want to focus their niche, to attract their authentic tribe. You see craft beer companies do this, being themselves and being authentic, and it attracts loyal fans and helps them win awards that surpass the major corporates’ many millions more advertising budget.

If your company’s annual revenue is say, $1 million, and your marketing budget is 3-7% of that, getting your initial brand right will ensure:

  • you know who you are
  • you understand WHY you are in business
  • you know what change you want to effect on the world
  • you know what values will guide your business decisions

So if you’re presented with an opportunity to distribute at a major corporate fair, or have a certain celebrity endorse you, or even to partake in different types of media buys, you will assess the integrity of your brand and ensure that your decisions resonate with the values of both your business and your target audience.

Some business owners think that a brand is just a logo, but it’s really just the face of your business. If you are just another face in the crowd you will have to spend more on advertising that just won’t stick in your customers’ minds. Customers are savvy and can detect spin. This quick-fix thinking, with a no-strategy, no-analysis, quick logo, makes you blend into the crowd with your competitors and be driven by price comparisons that reduce value in the whole industry. You have to be memorable. You have to be unique.  You have to be purpose-driven. You have to be You.

Successful business owners recognise the link between purpose-driven businesses and strong branding, and they aspire to build a brand that holds meaning, to be remembered for something. It’s then that your cost of acquiring new customers drops as your marketing becomes acutely focused and effective, and your brand begins to snowball with its own referral momentum. People know what your business stands for, they remember it and find it easy to refer to others.

Great brands inspire people to change their behaviour, to purchase, to talk about, and to recommend like never before. When customers share the same values and beliefs, they connect emotively and develop loyalty, which drives down the high cost of acquiring new customers.

A strategically defined authentic brand is a representation of the business core values and purpose, not a mask that is slapped on by a designer. Having a clearly defined belief system and loyal fans can also protect your price in times when others are driving sales through discounts. It can also give you an ideal platform from which to extend your service offering or product range.

Here are 10 ways that small business can develop their own deeply effective brand identity.

1. Start by defining You.

Lightbulb moments in branding

Pinpoint the space in the market it occupies and research the emotive and rational needs and concerns of your customers.

Review the product or service your business offers, pinpoint the space in the market it occupies and research the emotive and rational needs and concerns of your customers. Your brand character should promote your business, connect with your customer base and differentiate you in the market.

2. When building your brand, think of it as a person.

Building your brand as a person

For people it’s intuitive and it’s rare that you even consider what your own character is, but when you’re building a brand it’s vital to have that understanding.

Every one of us is an individual whose character is made up of beliefs, values and purposes that define who we are and who we connect with. Our personality determines how we behave in different situations, how we dress and what we say. Of course, for people it’s intuitive and it’s rare that you even consider what your own character is, but when you’re building a brand it’s vital to have that understanding.

3. Consider what is driving your business.

Get to know your brand advocates

Knowing your business’s brand heroes can help establish your emotive brand positioning and inform brand communications.

What does it believe in, what is its purpose and who are its brand heroes? These things can help establish your emotive brand positioning and inform the identity and character for brand communications.

4. Aim to build long-term relationships with your customers.

Be authentic. Have fun. Build relationships.

Create trust with honest branding – be clear who your company is and be true to the values that drive it every day.

Don’t dress up your offering and raise expectations that result in broken promises. Create trust with honest branding – be clear who your company is and be true to the values that drive it every day.

5. Speak to your customers with a consistent tone of voice.

Be consistent with your brand's tone and messaging. Deliver on your promise again and again.

Be consistent so customers are aware of exactly what to expect from the product or service.

It will help reinforce the business’ character and clarify its offering so customers are aware exactly what to expect from the product or service.

6. Don’t repeat the same message in the same way over and over again.

Have consistent messaging to build recognition then get creative with your branding key messages

Know what your purpose is. Use consistent messaging to build recognition and then get creative with your branding key messages. If you know who you are you can get creative with messaging and still remain on brand.

Alternatively, aim to make your key messages work together to build a coherent identity.

7. Don’t try to mimic the look of chains or big brands.

Mis-marketing is copying someone's brand and trying to pass it off as being you. People can tell!

We’ve all seen the Chinese food chains do it, but so do most other businesses (maybe to a lesser extent). Be brave and be yourself it’ll pay dividends in the long term.

Be you not them and carve out your own distinctive identity. There is a big consumer trend towards independent establishments, and several chains are in fact trying to mimic an independent feel to capture some of that market. Truly independent operators can leverage their status to attract customers who are looking for something more original and authentic, that aligns with how to feel about themselves.

8. Be innovative, bold & daring. Stand for something you believe in.

People believe what you do, not what you say. If you believe in helping the environment, SHOW IT.

Today’s brands can’t just sell “stuff”. You need to stand for something. We’re all more likely to be loyal to brands who stand for something given the choice.

Big brands are encumbered by large layers of bureaucracy, preventing them from being flexible and reacting to the ever-changing needs of their customers. Those layers of decision-makers can make it hard for them to be daring with their branding. Here is your opportunity to connect and inspire in a diluted market.

9. Always consider your branding when communicating with customers.

Your customers make purchasing decisions based on their perceptions of a brand. If you run a promotion that is at odds with their values, you will see the impact on the bottom line. You're better to own the value ecosystem and establish interactions that respect those values.

On brand promotions are an opportunity to reinforce your brand mission.

Your customers make purchasing decisions based on their perceptions of your brand. If you run a promotion that is at odds with their values, you will see the impact on the bottom line. You’re better to own the value ecosystem and establish interactions that respect those values. Don’t dilute your brand positioning with indiscriminate discounting or take the easy road with scattergun promotions. Still to value and you will see the rewards of customer purchases and ongoing loyalty.

10. The old way of stamping your logo on everything is now background noise.

Marketing is now hyper-targeted and personalised. No more shouting from the rooftops about your brand.

Generate intrigue and allow your future brand ambassadors to unearth more about your brand for themselves. This is the way to foster ambassadors who revel in telling other people what they have discovered.

The future of branding is fluid and engaging – respect your customers’ intelligence by not giving everything away up front. Generate some intrigue and allow them to unearth more about your brand for themselves. This is the way to foster ambassadors who revel in telling other people what they have discovered.

Every one of us is an individual whose character is made up of beliefs, values and purposes that define who we are and who we connect with. Our personality determines how we behave in different situations, how we dress and what we say. Of course, for people it’s intuitive and it’s rare that you even consider what your own character is, but when you’re building a brand it’s vital to have that understanding.

Make the call

We’re based at Studio 8, 21 Sydney Road Manly, NSW Australia.

We’d love to help you unearth your brilliant purpose and attract your best future customers.

Our marketing, branding and writing strategists can give you tailored advice on the details below.

02 8005 0047
studio@beyounotthem.com

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