You might think of branding as something the “big guys” do? That it’s not worth investing time and money on if you’re a small business or a solopreneur? The truth is: branding is just as, if not even more, important for smaller businesses. Whether you run a multi national organisation, or a small one-person-biz from a desk in your spare bedroom, branding will help you stand out. And in a world where it’s becoming near impossible to find a niche that no one else has thought of… believe me: you need that differentiation!
That, my friend, is why you need a kick-ass brand. And remember: your brand is never “just a logo” – it’s the sum of all that you stand for, who you are, how you’re perceived, your attitude, your brand personality… all coming together to create an emotional association in the mind of your customer.
For small businesses, branding becomes even more important. How else are you going to stand out among the bigger companies; not to mention among the huge number of other small businesses? But where the heck to start? I’ll give you a few handy tips:
1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE AND YOUR MARKET
You can build the finest castle, with golden towers and and unicorn hair and princesses and whatnot, but without a solid foundation it will come tumbling down! Your brand needs a solid foundation too: who are you selling to? Why do they need your product? What triggers them to buy? What is your USP? Are there any competitors offering the same product? Who are they? What do they do well, and where could they improve? Is there a gap in the market that you could take?
I could list a thousand more questions. The point is: knowing who your ideal client is and what they need, gives you insight that you can use to build your brand. There’s no point building a brand around what you think they want. If the marketplace is already full of competitors offering pretty much identical products, you’re going to have to work your arse off to become someone’s first choice. Have a think about what makes your product unique; what do you offer that gives added value?
2. FIRST IMPRESSIONS REALLY DO COUNT!
Your visual brand identity is often someone’s first point of contact with your brand, so make it count! Would you go on a first date or to a job interview in your old trackie bottoms? I’m guessing no. My advice to you is to hire a good designer who has the skillset to design a logo and brand identity that accurately represent your brand’s core values and personality. It will be a good investment, I promise!
I feel it’s also worth mentioning a catchy name here. Are you sure that your brand name communicates the right values and evokes the desired associations?
3. BE UNIQUE
Whatever you do, don’t try to copy the bigger brands. Nobody likes a copycat! Create your own distinct identity instead. Think of your brand as a person, an individual with its own unique personality that comes across in everything they do. From how you answer the phone to the message in a sales ad; find your little quirks and own them! This will grab people’s attention and make your brand memorable.
4. BE CLEAR AND CONSISTENT
By acting in the same way and using the same message across all touchpoints, you will create a consistent whole that will make you look trustworthy and professional. A set of brand identity guidelines can help you achieve this, but keep in mind that everything you do will contribute to the overall brand impression. Live your brand! Stay true to your values, be clear and consistent.
5. NEVER EVER MAKE PROMISES YOU CAN’T KEEP
This is probably the single biggest mistake you could make for your brand. If you promise your customer a Michelin-worthy culinary experience, and then serve them a plate of cheesy chips and beans, you’re in trouble. (Unless those chips are out of this world. And I mean really really out of this world in a total foodgasm kinda way.) And not because cheesy chips aren’t tasty, because omg, they totally can be! But you’ve created a huge gap between what your customer expects to receive, and what they actually get. What do you think is going to happen? They’ll go home disappointed! And what do people do when they’re disappointed? They moan about it to their friends. It’s the easiest way to a bad reputation! Instead, make it your goal to under promise and over deliver. It works!