What makes Coca-Cola better than a no-name supermarket drink with a similar flavor? If you believe The Sun, then the answer is nothing – the supermarket brand tastes just as good, it turns out, and is significantly cheaper to boot. That doesn’t stop people from preferring and buying Coca-Cola, however.
It’s not just the taste, essentially, but the name that influences their purchase decision. Coca-Cola has spent 130 years building and refining its legacy. People trust it and don’t mind paying a little extra for it.
As you’ve likely guessed, the branding principle also applies to your small business. If you’d like to stand out and make a serious impression, you need to put some thought and effort into your brand. In this guide, Find Digital Agency walks you through the ins and outs of branding, including why it matters for small businesses, and offers suggestions on how to do some low-budget DIY branding as a small business owner:
What is branding?
Branding is the act of making your own brand, which is a representation of your company values, culture, goals, and vision. Your brand is your promise to the customer. It’s who you are, who you want to be, and how you want to be seen in the marketplace.
A related term you should know about is brand identity – this is all the sensory elements that make up your brand. Examples include your business logo, colors, tagline, tone, fonts, imagery, positioning, and more. You can see your brand as your business’ core personality and your brand identity as its external representation.
Branding deeply affects customer experience
Your brand has a massive impact on customer experience. Here are some reasons why:
- Customers can more readily understand your product or service: A brand makes your product or service more understandable. Customers can take a glance at your brand and quickly figure out what it is you do and what they can expect from you.
- Your brand is synonymous with quality: Customers are more likely to trust a product or service that carries with it a brand name, not to mention also expect a better experience. Brands represent quality and standards. Not having a brand name, on the other hand, can turn some customers off.
- You can build a lasting relationship with customers: Your brand becomes your identity in the market. It gives customers a point of reference in their dealings with you, long-term, and helps them make an emotional connection with your company.
Branding also confers other benefits. It can increase revenues, fosters a sense of belonging and importance for your employees, and can help you step into the future vision you have for your company.
Pinpointing your target market is a critical first step
Before you can begin building a brand, you should pinpoint your target market. Your ideal customers – the ones that most need your product or service and are willing to pay for it – will have a preference for certain brand themes and elements over others. You should design your brand with their sensibilities in mind.
Start by defining your ideal customers’ characteristics in terms of income, age, number of employees, revenues, industry, and geographical area. Then, come up with brand design elements accordingly. You can follow the brand strategy step-by-step guide for more in-depth guidance.
Building a brand involves multiple steps. Some examples are figuring out the branding type that you need (personal, retail, product, or service), defining your value proposition, identifying a brand statement, coming up with visual branding elements, marketing your brand, implementing it in other ways, and refining your strategy over time.
What branding projects can you DIY?
As a small business owner, you can DIY many of these steps. You can come up with a basic brand identity, a statement, personality, and an eye-catching banner, for instance, by yourself. An eye-catching banner will help raise your business profile, and it’s something you can feature on your website, social media page, Twitter feed, YouTube channel, or similar.
You can use an online tool for coming up with the banner design. Once you find a style that fits your business, you can personalize it further by adding text, color, and font and including animations or videos.
It’s worth mentioning that you need a basic foundation to implement a brand. That means you need an official business presence, a website, a brand name, social media accounts, and business listings. You will also find branding and marketing-related software – like design software – useful.
Do you need a professional branding agency?
Branding can be complex, especially if it’s something specialized or you want something exceptionally eye-catching. Branding agencies specialize in some aspects or provide special service packages that you could check out. For instance, research, analytics, packaging, brand experience, communications, strategy and management, and copywriting.
As we mentioned above, you won’t need professionals for the basics. You can create an identity, visual elements, and some content by yourself. If you want to make an extra impact, you can partner up with complementary brands and cross-promote.
How much do professional branding services cost?
Hiring a branding agency can be an expensive proposition. According to Guru, you can expect to pay $5,000 to $15,000 for freelancers and $40,000 to $80,000 for large branding agencies just for brand positioning and strategy.
Consider sharpening your business skills
Regardless of whether you use professionals to build your brand or not, you need serious business skills to research, develop, implement, and market it. You may find that going back to school to earn an MBA degree and gain extra business acumen is a worthwhile use of your time.
You can pursue an online degree program to achieve your diploma while still working full-time or tending to family obligations. When looking for an online school, make sure it’s accredited and offers competitive tuition rates.
Branding is important even when you’re a small business. It differentiates you from the competition, makes you memorable, and helps you stand out. For the best results, be sure to tailor your brand to your target market and come up with a powerful banner or business logo to remain memorable.