Building Your Brand Identity as a Small Business

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If you are a small business or a young startup looking to build a brand identity to stay ahead of your competitors, you are in the right place. There is a misconception that only larger enterprises with a strong consumer base like Nike or Apple need a brand to grow. That is not true. Branding is important for all types of businesses. If you are running a business, you need to start working on building your brand and developing a strong online presence to acquire business results. 

 Let’s start with the basics.

What is Branding and Why is it Important for Small Businesses?  

A logo is the first thing that comes to mind for many people when it comes to branding. A brand is more than a logo. A brand is something that showcases your uniqueness and provides a positive experience to your target audience. It may be your customer service, content, design, or the tone of voice. On the other hand, you cannot leave the logo aside either, as it is a crucial aspect of branding.  

There are different reasons to highlight why branding is important for small businesses. Reasons include — brand recognition among your audience, consumer trust, word of mouth recommendations, originality, emotional connections, etc.

Let’s check out how to develop your brand identity as a small business in detail.

Building Your Brand Identity as a Small Business

What comes under branding?

Branding deals with many aspects, and different people give different explanations when they are asked for the definition of branding. Every marketing and advertising agency makes use of its uniqueness to showcase its brand. You need to have an original, relevant, and appealing marketing strategy to attract your target audience and build a successful brand. 

According to Wikipedia, branding is defined as the marketing practice incorporated to create a design, symbol, or name that makes a product unique from others.

How and why is it essential to build a brand now? 

Though there are different strategies and tools for increasing your brand awareness, the objective of developing a brand is to attract new customers and make the existing customers stay with you forever. To turn this objective into reality, you need to provide them with what you promise and make them prefer your brand whenever they are purchasing the same products or services. 

Brand strategy involves whom, when, where, what, and how to communicate and deliver your brand messages. You automatically see yourself growing bigger than your competitors when you have an effective branding strategy. Your brand is something that you promise your customers in providing the perfect service they are expecting from your brand. 

Here are some of the benefits of branding explained in-depth to get a good understanding of why it is essential for small businesses –

  • Recognition: People prefer businesses that they are familiar with. If you have a marketing or advertising strategy that makes your brand easy to recognize and consistent, it helps people recognize you easily, and they also start purchasing your product or services whenever they require it.
  • Uniqueness: How many days are you going to stay competitive only on the local stage? You need to start competing in the global economy to showcase yourself as unique so that people will start identifying you. 
  • Business Information: It’s easy for your customers to know what kind of business and company you are, from the complete brand experience you provide your customers, starting from the logo & other visual elements, how you respond to your customers and more. 
  • Direction: A clear and strong brand strategy tells how clear you need to be for its success. A good brand strategy also tells the staff how to win the business, act on the challenges, and meet the organization’s objectives to reach the desired success.
  • Referrals: When people start to love any of your products or services, it’s 100% sure that they will spread the word about your products or services to their friends, close ones, or family members so that they can also try them out. In case they hate your products or services, it’s certain that they are going to pass on negative feedback about your brand to other people. 
  • Stay focused: Once you start defining a clear brand strategy, you will be able to stay focussed on what you need to achieve for your organization. A strong brand can also make your work strategic and save time and money by implementing proper marketing tactics. 
  • Emotional connection with the customers: Customers will be emotionally attached to your brand when they start loving your products whenever they buy from you.
  • Business value: Beyond offering any physical assets, a brand with a strong strategy provides better value to your organization. 

Defining your brand identity 

Do you think it’s easy to come up with the right name, logo, and other aspects of your business? It’s one of the daunting tasks that need to be strategized and executed with mere perfection. Your brand defines your business identity. You need to know the right type of audience for your brand, the norm in your industry, and other aspects before defining your brand identity.

Getting started on your brand identity

Do you have a brand that can make your customers identify what you do and who you are immediately when hearing your name or seeing any of the products or services? Getting your customers familiar with your product or service is essential to make you the first preference among your target customers. It also helps consumers to pick your product or services over your competitors. 

How to establish your brand?

Creating a strong logo is important for consumers to identify you easily. When you have an attractive logo for your brand, it can make the consumers identify with you when they think of your products or services. To establish your brand identity, you need to work on other important factors as well such as brand strategy, vision, mission, visuals, messaging and more. 

Let’s go through each and every brand guidelines to get a clear picture.  

  • Logo Design: It’s the main logo, and this is what you would see on every page of your website. Ensure you design it with full colours and creativity to make it look appealing and informative. 
  • Typography: You need to document the typography that is used across your brand. Typography refers to logo font, paragraphs, headlines, and subheadings. The typography used needs to be outlined for the best results. 
  • Colours: There are different brand colours, namely 
    • Primary colours are the colours that you can see in your logo design and main text. 
    • The secondary colours are used to add value to the colour palette of the brand. It can also be used for different advertising forms like exhibition stands, leaflets, and websites. While creating marketing materials, it’s important to stay in line with your brand colours.
    • These days people avoid print colours as everything has moved to digital. Vibrant colours that you see on the screen may not suit the print medium. So if you are translating them directly, then it gives a muddy and dull look. 
    • Some brands create the best colour that works best on both web and print and that too by following the standards and guidelines. Creating your own CMYK palette will provide good results rather than just swapping both CMYK and RGB for results. 
  • The tone of voice: Your tone shows how your brand should communicate with your target audience. Your audience should become familiar with the tone of your brand voice. You need to experiment and identify how your audience perceives your tone of voice. It’s best to document your tone description, characteristics, the dos, and don’ts of brand communication. 
Source – Brafton Style Guide

 Here’s more on creating brand guidelines. You can get started with free design tools like Canva if you are not design savvy.

Setting up a design guide and customer touchpoints

The brand touchpoints change with time, and therefore it’s important to keep them updated, or you might lag behind your competitors. If you are confused about choosing the best customer touchpoints to focus on, you need to analyze your customers’ journey and focus on every touchpoint throughout the customer’s business journey. 

Here’s how you define your customer touchpoints in order to build your brand identity

Split your leads into different categories before adding the touchpoints. This is how it will look like.  

  • New customers: Your customers need constant nurturing and develop a healthy relationship to upsell and cross-sell.
  • Hot leads: They are ready to buy, but they are also evaluating other brands
  • Warm leads: They know your brand, but you will have to convince more to turn them into your customer. 
  • Cold leads: They have no awareness of your services, products, or brand. 

Website

Your website is the first port of call for every customer. You need to ensure your website is perfectly SEO optimized, responsive to mobile, has proper navigation, clear messaging and appropriate social media links. If you don’t know how to get started, you can reach out to any web design company to develop a professional and appealing website for you. 

Blogs

There are a lot of websites which just have a homepage, about us and a contact us page. It’s important to add a blog page as a part of your website and start to focus on giving away quality content to your target audience. This way, when your audience is searching for related queries, there are chances that they may stumble upon your brand for a solution.  

You could start by writing how-to articles in your niche, share industry news, create a top 10 feature list about your product or services, and post them on the blog. This will help increase the trust over your brand and bring huge benefits to your business. 

Social Media

Social media has the power to take your business to the next step, and it may bring down your brand reputation too. If you are planning to run any social media campaigns, make sure you have a brand presence on every social media platform with good quality following. When you have picked the right social media platform for your business, you can easily increase your brand awareness via creative campaigns. It may also bring you businesses. 

Another way to have great communication with your customers is to think outside the box. Keep yourself updated on different social trends to reach your acquired goal easily. 

Social media is one of the main brand touchpoints, and therefore you need to be creative with your social media campaigns to stand out. Another important thing to note in social media is to reply to the consumers’ messages. You can’t be online at all times, but you can use chatbots to send out automated messages, which can make your users believe that they get responses to their queries in a short span of time. 

Apart from the above-mentioned touchpoints, you could also try your hands at advertising, in-store experience to build your brand. Now there are certain questions you need to ask yourself to get the best possible results. 

  • What is the first impression of my brand each time I come across these touchpoints?
  • Are my touchpoints different from my competitors?
  • Will the touchpoints I chose, make my existing customers stay with my brand?
  • Does the touchpoint fit my brand identity and brand strategy?
  • Will it bring new customers to my brand?
  • Will my customers get a positive impression of my brand after going through these touchpoints?

Answering these questions will help you improve your brand awareness and shape your brand identity. 

Wrapping Up

Brand identity brings out the uniqueness in your brand and helps you stay highly competitive in the world. Nailing the brand identity and focusing on creativity via marketing campaigns that attract customers is important if you need your brand to be perceived positively. 

  • Understand why your business needs to build a brand identity before you get started
  • Define your brand identity by understanding your customers and personas
  • Establish your brand with clear brand guidelines
  • Set up an extensive design guide and customer touchpoints

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