Branding is as much a part of marketing as anything. Often times, however, this part of marketing is a forgotten ingredient for small businesses and SME’s (small to medium-sized enterprises). Even though we immediately recognize international and national companies through their branding techniques, small businesses can do the same only on a smaller scale.
What makes a national product or service readily recognizable can be used just as effectively for a small business or SME. It might be a recurring theme (same colors, patterns, or displays), a symbol or picture (Apple’s iconic fruit, the Mercedes-Benz three-pronged star, or the Red Cross emblem), a slogan or catchphrase of words (BMW: The ultimate driving machine or MasterCard: There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's MasterCard), or a logo or word (IBM or Dell).
The idea of branding is to stand out from the crowd by differentiating one business from another with constant and repetitive communication. Branding is a business’ image in the marketplace. For a small business without any branding, here are a few steps to get started:
Create a Buyer Persona
In building a brand, a business is speaking to customers who have a need or desire for a particular product or service. Without understanding a business’ core customers, it is impossible to really develop an effective brand that reaches the target audience. A business can have more than one buyer persona or type of customer in which branding can be directed and become more effective. A persona might be male or female, millennium or baby-boomer, middle or high-income individual, or a particular type of business.
Keep the Name Out There
Depending on the target audience and budget, businesses can use a variety of methods to brand. These might include newspaper or local business journals, website, blogging, social media, television, billboards, promotional give-away items, company signs, business cards, or newsletters. Essentially, anything that keeps the name of the business in front of prospective customers.
Keep it simple when first getting started. A small business must understand its customers, the competition, the culture in which it operates, and base (broad or narrow) that it is targeting. Just thinking of questions asked by prospects and customers can jump start the process.
When Branding Is Successful
Businesses must know if branding efforts are successful. If not, changes should be made. When branding is successful:
Buyers immediately relate a product or service to a particular business.
Quality and value become associated with the branded products or services.
Credibility is instilled for the seller with the buyer.
Emotional attachments are developed.Sales increase.
Loyalties are established.
A Branding Tip
Find one unique thing about your business that sets it apart from the competition. Use this as a “branding” tool and start “branding” today.