An Introductory Guide to Branding Your Business – the Key Steps
The Importance of Branding for Your Business
Branding refers to the establishment of a company’s image by creating a logo or other distinguishing marker and establishing a reputation for producing products of a certain type or quality. This is critical for small businesses as companies that establish their brands firmly in the minds of consumers give themselves a powerful tool for increasing their market share and fostering loyalty with consumers at the expense of competitors who have not.
This post covers everything you need to know to brand your business. From having a logo designed to firmly implanting your company’s products in the minds of the public, and will guide you through the process step by step.
Before getting started the following questions should be addressed. By doing so, you’ll learn what a brand is and why building one for your company is important. The process will also help to familiarise you with the steps you need to take to build a brand into a powerful tool to help your marketing efforts.
What Is Branding?
Branding is the process of imprinting in consumers an idea representing a company or its products in the form of a slogan or image of some sort. It serves as a kind of company “personality,” representing how that business is perceived by consumers. By establishing a brand, your company helps to differentiate itself and its products from competitors in the industry in which it operates. Branding is an important marketing tool as it allows a company to gain, and retain, customers on the basis of a factor other than price or product features.
To engage in branding, you first need to build a brand for your business. This involves analysing exactly what makes your company stand out from its competitors and how the company benefits consumers. Once you’ve done this the process of building your brand can commence.
Do I Really Need It in My Small Business?
Building a brand can provide a foundational platform when it comes to marketing your company’s products. It also helps inspire customer loyalty as a way to encourage repeat purchases. There are several questions to ask to help you decide if taking the time and effort to build a brand is likely to be worthwhile for your company:
How do customers make purchases in my industry?
- Location: If you are running a local retail shop a convenient location may be the most important buying point for many customers. However, even if this is the case, giving customers a reason to select your store over other similar ones can be beneficial. If your shop is not as conveniently located as others, building a brand is even more crucial, as it can provide a source of motivation for customers to travel further to shop at your store.
- Price points: Businesses with commodity based pricing can benefit from branding as a way to differentiate between themselves and their competitors on a basis other than that of pricing. While branding will not necessarily act as a substitute for advantageous prices in industries featuring commodity price dynamics, it can help distinguish your business from competitors. Ideally, this will result in customers selecting your firm in situations where prices are similar.
- Quality or Prestige: In sectors where product purchases depend to a great deal on the perceived quality of a product or the prestige it brings, building a brand is likely to be essential to success. Customers purchasing products of this type will look to brand messages and images to validate that they have made the right decision. While building a brand can be beneficial in a variety of circumstances, companies operating in industries featuring these dynamics are likely to expend proportionally more resources given how crucial brand identity can be to building their business.
Why Is It so Important for Small Businesses?
Branding is an important marketing tool as it can enhance customer engagement and loyalty as well as attracting new customers. When done well, it helps: to
- Delivers the message clearly
- Confirms your credibility
- Connects with your target prospects emotionally
- Motivates the buyer
- Cements customer loyalty
Having a recognised brand allows your company to be perceived as the premier solution to a consumer’s problem, thus becoming “top of mind” as well as helping establish and improve your company’s reputation and customer loyalty.
How Should I Go About Building My Brand?
The first step is to understand your audience, who are they and what motivates their buying behaviour. Once you determine this, the next step is to integrate this understanding into your branding activity at all points of client contact. Doing so is a process that often requires adjustment based on results and feedback from your target audience.
The following are areas to focus on:
- Description: How you describe your company and its products is extremely important when it comes to successfully building your brand. The words you use should be clear and powerful – excessively complex descriptions may simply confuse your audience. One aspect to consider when determining how to describe your company and its products is the keywords associated with your industry. They will indicate how consumers search for products associated with firms in your sector and should be taken into consideration in your branding efforts.
- Design: Your website should feature an inviting design – one that is both attractive and highly functional. This doesn’t mean you need to spend an inordinate amount of money making it as polished as a work of art, just that it should be as visually appealing and easily as possible within the limits of your budget. Think of your website as if it were a retail location your customers visit which you would want to make as comfortable and inviting as possible to ensure repeated and lengthy visits.
- Logo or Icon: In a world where advertising space is at a premium, a compact logo or icon representing your company is invaluable. Whatever image or design you choose to serve this purpose, make sure that it is a memorable one. Whether it is richly coloured or features a stark design, the important point is that it stands out and is easily recognisable to consumers.
- Slogan: A catchy or memorable slogan is indispensable. If you think of some of the biggest brands in the world, their slogans immediately come to my mind. For example, Nike’s “just do it” or “don’t leave home without it” from American Express are easily memorable phrases that help both companies stay connected with their customers. Any slogan associated with your brand should be designed with a similar objective.
- Outreach material: Creating and distributing content describing your company and its products is another important step. There are a whole host of ways of accomplishing this, including writing blog posts, especially in the context of a content marketing campaign, search engine marketing (SEM), and social media marketing. While content in the form of blogs or other written material is by nature more extensive than a slogan or tagline describing your company, it should still attempt to be concise and direct in describing your company and its value proposition. Keep your message and tone of voice uniform across all media sources to ensure that a consistent message is transmitted to your audience over time. This will help prevent any confusion over your company’s mission, vision or the products it provides.
Branding and URL
When it comes to your website URL, it’s important that your brand name is coordinated with your domain name to avoid any confusion on the part of buyers.
This is especially important when it comes to ecommerce, as the newness of the medium means that customers are more apt to purchase goods from companies with whose names they are familiar. If you are able to establish your company’s name and / or brand firmly in the minds of your customers, they are likely to think of it when searching for the type of products your business sells on the web. If your domain name is aligned with your brand, it can lead to increased sales conversions by directing more visitors to your site.
What’s in a Logo?
A logo provides a means for consumers to instantly recognise your brand through a mark or icon. Its design should include any specific symbols used to identify your company and its products. This can include designs of the products themselves, or the insignia of your company such as its initials or a symbol representing it. Some icons include both, containing an image representing a company’s products as well as initials or other insignia helping consumers identify the product.
Logos are typically made up of a logomark, the image identifier; a logotype, which is the word segment displaying the name of the brand; and the tagline, which is a phrase associated with a brand typically displayed in conjunction with the logomark and logotype. These three main elements may be combined in a variety of ways when designing a logo.
Some basic principles of logo design include:
- Simplicity: A logo should be striking but at the same time not too complex.
- Durability: An effective logo should be able to stand the test of time and not become dated.
- Memorability: A well designed logo should be memorable.
- Versatility: A logo should be able to represent your brand over a variety of media sources and uses.
How Do I Get a Logo Designed?
A professional graphics design firm can provide assistance in creating a logo. If you want to keep expenses down, general art sites such as Dribbble or logo-centric sites such as Logo Gala and Logo Moose can assist you in the designing process. In either case you should have a to have a clear understanding of your business its market and the image you want to present in order to be effective.
What Other Items Do I Need to Consider?
While a brand is made up design elements such as logos, icons, colours and written elements including slogans and explanatory content that helps an audience understand what it represents, this is not all that goes into it. Considered in full, a brand is a “corporate image,” or the perception of a company by its relevant audience.
As a result, the main items which make up a brand can be supplemented by other items which help maintain a consistent company image.
These can include:
- Marketing collateral: including brochures, flyers, website, blog posts, videos, etc.
- Stationery: Business cards, envelopes, letterhead
- Messaging: Communications from the company in whatever form
- Product packaging: These can feature a company’s logo or other insignia
- Signage: Either exterior office signage or interior signage within an office
- Images: Photos placed on a company website or used in blogs should be consistent with the company’s brand “personality.”
- Videos: As with images, keep any videos provided by your company in-line with the image your company is attempting to project.
- Blog posts and articles: Your brand should project the company’s image, while more detailed media such as blog posts and articles explain what the company stands for in greater detail.