Your company won’t flourish if it doesn’t have a strong brand. You probably have a general idea what your brand is, but it’s a more complicated concept than that. When people see it, they have to understand it, too. Your target demographic has to identify it, and build a connection with your business.
When a customer or prospective customer encounters your brand, there should be a reaction. When people see a new drink made by Coca-Cola and they like Coke products, they are more inclined to give it a try. When a gamer sees a new video game made by Nintendo, he or she can expect it to be high-quality.
The brand is what your customers expect when they hear your company’s name, and if you’re not working on building a memorable brand, you’re going nowhere. Businesses can live and die by branding, so if you haven’t given it the proper attention, you need to get started.
Here are some ways to address branding for small businesses.
Think of What Your Company Stands for
As you build your business, you should be developing at least a decent understanding company’s goals, values, ethics, and the benefits of what your product has to offer. By now, you should be determining what your customers expect out of your product, but you have to take it a little further.
You should nail down not just what you are, but what you want your customers to think whenever they come across your company. That’s the baseline for building a brand—having a clear vision of how you want outsiders to see you. Executing that vision is another element completely.
Think About Your Logo
One of the most common ways people recognize a company is by its logo. Logos can be powerful tools as the visual representation of your brand. Among all of the high-level concepts surrounding branding, logos are on the simpler end.
You just need something that will stay in consumers’ heads, something memorable and visually appealing. Some companies’ logos are simple—a lot of times it’s just the business name in an original font.
Coca-Cola’s cursive is known to all, while the Pepsi Globe is just a series of simple shapes and colors, but is as recognizable as its rival. Some companies have a more complex logos that are recognizable, such as Starbuck’s siren.
There are many directions you can go, and it’s easy to overthink. It’s just important to research, talk with a professional graphic designer, and think about what would best represent your company.
Think About Your Social Media Presence
Your social media presence is important for branding.
Customers will clamor to your page with inquiries and possible complaints, and how you respond can affect your brand. If all your responses are automatic, your customers will associate you with a soulless corporation. If you’re more informal, willing to engage with your audience, they may pay your business more attention.
Use this scenario as an example: A person is looking for someone to do some contracting work on a house. They look at your company and another on Facebook. The other company has an active presence, with photos of recent work, glowing reviews, and daily interaction with customers. Your company hasn’t posted anything in two months, and there’s an unanswered comment from a potential customer about a price estimate.
That person is picking the other company.
It’s not just about getting customers on board with your brand, you also have to make sure your employees are happy.
If your business operates on a local level, this is a little easier you gauge. You need to see what other businesses are doing when it comes to their brand. Branding approaches can differ depending on the region, so it’s always a good idea to learn what other companies in your area are doing to engage with customers as well as improve life for their employees.
One way to do this is to search local job posts in your area and see what other companies in the same industry are offering to prospective employees and how they’re selling themselves. You should also be looking at their websites, social media accounts, and products and services, but that’s the obvious stuff.
Consistency is one thing associated with a strong brand. If you don’t deliver on what you promise your customers, you can end up with a damaged brand. The products and services you offer should be consistent with what you’ve promised.
Of course, you can still branch out and diversify. For example, when you think of Nestle, you think of chocolate. So it’s weird to know that Nestle makes bottled water too. You don’t have to shoehorn your business, but you should also be ensuring that quality is consistent throughout all products you offer.
Protect Your Brand
No one likes to be the finger-wagging business that enforces their copyright, but it has to be done. Brand protection is something every company must do. A brand can get damaged if people misuse it.
We all know about brand names that became generic words. A dumpster used to be a brand name for a trash bin, but due to the lack of protection, it soon became a generic word. Obviously, you can’t control how people speak, but you can control how people use your brand online.
Trademark your company and send takedown notices for people who misuse your brand. Again, no one likes it when a company does this, but it must be done for the brand’s protection. Talk with a professional about how you can protect your brand, and learn when you should send out a DMCA takedown and when you should think twice.
Stay On It
Branding is an integral part of any business, and one you must put care into. Be consistent with your brand, and you’ll have something that will last a long time.
Don’t feel bad about putting too much work into your brand, as no time spent on it is wasted. In the end, it may be what decides the fate of your small business.