Are you unsure of what branding is? Branding is the marketing term for the practice of shaping and defining your brand. But what is a brand and how can you harness it to grow your small business?
Just like your personal identity is everything that sets you apart from the crowd, your brand identity is made up of all the components that go into making your business unique from your competition.
What does branding mean?
Brand identity is so much more than just a logo—though your logo is an essential part of your brand. Your brand identity is made up of each of the components that shape your brand’s image.
Beyond the tangible components that tell the world who you are, your brand also includes the emotional or “gut” feeling that people have when thinking about your business.
We like to call that brand affinity, and it is an essential part of understanding how your business is connecting with your customers.
While your brand is made up of the perceptions that people have of your business, branding is the set of actions you take to develop that brand.
Any steps you take to build your brand is branding, including things like:
- Building a brand voice
- Designing a logo
- Creating a social media presence
- Developing a strong customer journey experience
- And so much more!
Why is branding so important for your small business?
Investing in building a strong brand for your small business can help you move beyond survival and into thriving.
Here’s how branding can help you do that:
- It helps you stand out against your competition. Branding is how you tell your story and show customers the ways that you are different from your competition. Regardless of your industry, region, or target audience, your small business is likely to face competition. Showing your customers who you are as a business can make all the difference in their choice to choose you over another business.
- It helps you create brand recognition. Creating an instantly recognizable logo, visual identity, social media presence, and website will help your customers to remember your business. Having a distinct visual voice allows you to increase your brand recognition and helps customers easily find you again and again.
- It establishes a consistent experience for your customers and clients. Branding gives you control over how people experience your business. Creating a consistent brand experience across your marketing channels, product packaging, communications, and events helps you to ensure that your customers have a positive experience every time they interact with your business and builds brand loyalty.
- It sparks a connection and builds affinity with your audience. A positive emotional connection between your customers and your brand is what turns a first-time customer into a loyal customer and brand ambassador who tells other people about your business. Smart branding strategies can help you to connect with your customers or clients on a deeper level and build a strong sense of loyalty to your business.
What are the components of a brand identity?
- Positioning: Your brand’s positioning is the unique place in a customer’s mind where your business sits. It’s how customers and clients perceive, identify, and connect with your brand. A strong brand positioning statement and strategy can help you get the tone right on every component of your brand.
- Mission and Vision Statements: Think of your mission statement as the foundation of your brand. It should be a short statement that defines what your business does and why you do it. On the other hand, your vision statement is aspirational and about what you want to achieve in the long term.
- Logo: Often the first thing people think of when they think about branding, a logo is a quick visual representation of your company, including your name, and your first impression. The best logos are straightforward, beautiful, and give customers a hint at what your business is all about.
- Brand Guidelines: Your brand guidelines are a tangible document that serves as a template for marketing decision making. It should include all of the stylistic components of your branding, including your fonts, color palette, and brand voice. It is important to remain consistent with both your visual and written voice as you share your brand across channels to ensure brand recognition.
- Website: For most businesses, a website is your most powerful marketing tool and a key component of your branding. It should be easy to navigate, visually engaging, and showcase each of the elements of your brand.
- Brand Assets: Depending on your specific business needs, your brand assets may may include product packaging, business cards, flyers, and advertisements. Similar to your website, it is essential to remember that every interaction your customers have with your business should reflect your branding.
How do I start building my brand identity?
While there are plenty of designers and agencies who can help you build and implement your brand identity, as a small business owner you may not yet have the budget to hire professionals to help you create strong branding.
But fear not, because you have all of the tools you need to get started and a business mentor can help guide you through it.
Start by thinking about what you do, why you do it, and what you hope to achieve by doing it and create a brand positioning statement.
Then you will be well-prepared to connect with a mentor, who can help you fine-tune your positioning statement and use that to write your mission and vision statements.
A mentor can not only provide you with guidance and walk you through developing your branding, but they can also be a sounding board and a second set of eyes on how your brand is coming across to customers and clients.
Seek out mentors with experience in marketing or design, and don’t worry too much about what industries they have worked in. Branding principles remain consistent across industries and a mentor can help you navigate the process.
Great branding is essential to successful marketing.
As your product or service offerings may change and adapt over time, your branding should be a living part of your business that adapts to continue telling an accurate story about your business. Investing in and managing your brand can pay off in the long run.
Knowing exactly what your business’s brand is will help you to market yourself more easily and effectively.
Your brand guidelines and positioning will help you to determine the best approach for marketing your small business.
Branding is the foundation upon which you develop your customer loyalty and build a strong reputation, an essential part of bringing in new leads and sales through marketing.
Build a thriving business through branding.
While the process of developing your branding may seem daunting at first, remember that it is your opportunity to express yourself and tell your story.
Take your time and be thoughtful about cultivating your brand and the work you put in will pay for itself as you begin marketing your business and landing new leads and customers.
And remember that you do not have to go through the process alone—a mentor is a great resource as you develop your branding.