As we say, the digital world can get pretty overwhelming. And when running a small brand or business, that becomes an issue if you're not pouring resources into growth. Branding for small businesses is a multi-step, nuanced affair, one that we're intimately familiar with.
On the hunt for the lowdown on digital marketing vocabulary to help you serve your business better? Need some SEO help? There's no shortage of how many ways you can help your brand grow. As you'll quickly see, it's far from impossible to do so.
But first, let's set the stage for great branding for small businesses.
What Is Branding?
Branding is the extensive building and promoting of a small business through good marketing, design, customer perception, and messaging.
In short, how does your customer feel about your product? Good branding aims to paint a favorable picture of your small business in various ways.
And it's much more than a good logo and nice colors (although they definitely play a huge part). Let's see how we get started with creating memorable brands.
Digital marketing consultants will quickly get you on the right track, starting with finding who you're explicitly marketing to.
Branding Step #1: Who's Your Market?
First thing's first: who's your customer base? Who are you marketing toward? Regardless of whether it's the 18-35 male demographic, young urban professionals, new homeowners (or all three), you need to nail down a target market.
Finding your market and crafting the ideal buyer persona is the fundamental stage of good branding for small businesses. It sets the tempo for further brand success. Not to mention, it's one of the best digital marketing tips.
Branding Step #2: Research Time
Research is branding's bread and butter. It’s essential for trying to find your market and ideal customer. Without hard data, your small business can suffer. And no one wants to fly blind when getting a brand, business, or advertising strategy off the ground.
What products, services, and other aspects of your business are people responding favorably to? Take into consideration multiple factors, and you can finally land on what’s ‘doing it’ for your business. Now it’s time to flesh out your brand a bit more to give it color, personality, and a story.
Branding Step #3: Flesh Out Your Brand
We all love a good logo and color scheme. It's time to develop your look and feel.
Yes, that means ditching outdated websites last updated when George W. Bush was president.
We know it's comfortable, but it only hinders business. We guarantee a new coat of paint, and an easy-to-navigate website can make the difference between leads and a high bounce rate.
And while tools like Canva work well at first, you need to set your sights higher. Where basic website templates get the job done, an entirely unique website is essential if you want high customization and creative flexibility.
But before you spend all your time perfecting your logo, keep in mind it's only a piece of the branding puzzle. With that fresh coat of paint, you're going to need a killer brand story.
Branding Step #4: What's Your Brand Story?
People love a good story. And potential customers especially love a good story that helps them understand the values and goals of a business owner. It translates perfectly to the product or service. While challenging at first, finding that connection can be a fantastic gateway to business.
So, what's your brand's story?
More specifically, what does your brand provide for its target market? What does the future look like for your brand and business? Where did your brand come from?
Address all of these fundamental questions when fleshing out your brand's story. These small yet impactful answers give immense value to your brand.
Remember, people love a good story. They also love a brand that can help them cancel out their specific pain points. And when coupled with a relatable, likable brand, that decision to buy has never been easier.
Maybe it's a brand that aims to help the environment with recycled materials, or it's a local coffee shop that directly creates local jobs and career opportunities. Whatever your brand stands for, there's a market for it out there.
It's time to develop your story using the necessary research gleaned from before. When combining all of the above aspects into a cohesive, engaging story, people will listen.
This isn't the time to get 'salesy.' It's time to take your brand and project your value to customers.
- What does your brand stand for?
- Where did your brand come from?
- What pain points does your brand or business solve for people?
Branding Step #5: Develop A Distinct Brand Voice
Taking your brand story into account, delivering the said story is also crucial for communicating with customers.
For example, Folgers, in a bold business move, is leaning into its reputation as 'grandma's coffee,' as Webb Wright for The Drum writes:
"The 172-year-old coffee brand is pushing back against the popular, unflattering image of being ‘your grandma’s coffee’ and a boring alternative to newer, zestier brands. The tagline in the new ads: ‘Allow us to reintroduce ourselves.’
Folgers pokes fun at itself and leans into its image, employing Joan Jett's famous song Bad Reputation. But in the ad, Folgers shows working-class coffee drinkers indulging in multiple cups of coffee.
Not only that, but the coffee giant is tapping into its specific roots in New Orleans. The brand is attempting to connect with multiple audiences, whether it's the 'working man,' who's not looking for anything fancy, or the colorful background of The Big Easy. And the company nails it with a simple tagline:
‘Unapologetically toasted [and] roasted in our hometown of New Orleans,’
So, what does this mean for your business brand?
Does your brand represent a casual, fun aspect of the business? Something everyday people can relate to? Or are you a brand that helps companies solve an issue with no-nonsense?
Decide which tone to use and lean in. Developing a brand voice is the perfect opportunity to find someone who writes good copy.
It could be you, your team, or an SEO copywriter. Remember, you're communicating vital ideas about your small business to your target audience; you can't mince words!
The Difference Between Brand Voice and Brand Tone
Okay, what's the critical difference between brand voice and tone?
- Brand voice is essentially your brand's personality. Is it fun or serious?
- Brand tone is the more specific way you use your brand's voice to communicate with customers.
So, think of brand voice as an anchor of sorts from which the brand tone can develop. In short, brand voice is the meat of your message; the brand tone is the specific way of saying it.
Finding what works for your company is an exciting part of the branding process.
Branding For Small Businesses: Finding What Clicks
In the end, it's all about finding what clicks and how your target market responds to your company.
Through crafting an engaging story, brand voice, pleasant aesthetics, and researching your market, you can't fail.
But we won't lie; it can take a lot of time, too. But when you launched your business, you didn't consider taking the easy way. Like your business, it's an extreme labor of love—a labor of love that can be immensely rewarding.