Have you ever dreamed of seeing your brand expand across the country until it becomes a household name? With the right brand you can, but if you get it wrong, you’ll never succeed. Here is a beginner’s guide to branding for small business.
Before investing time or money in developing your brand, find out whether it speaks to your audience. Talk to your customers to understand their habits, needs and wants. This is the foundation of your brand. Find out what motivates your customers, what they like and dislike. Imagine your brand as a person, then imagine a conversation between your brand and your ideal customer. What is their relationship like?
Have you ever dreamed of seeing your brand expand across the country until it becomes a household name? With the right brand you can, but if you get it wrong, you’ll never succeed.
A lot of things go into branding – market research, developing a brand identity, brand and logo design, and telling your brand story across all the channels you use to communicate. However, if you don’t send the right messages to the right people, it’s all for nothing.
If you know your market well enough, you will understand how to design your brand so as to get the right emotional reaction from your audience. Your design, sales and marketing activities should be tailored to your target market. It’s important to keep the message consistent for people to easily recognise the brand. Who are you providing a service for? What are the key messages you want to get across?
Failure might not be inevitable but it’s very common. The good news is that you can learn valuable lessons from botched branding experiments. There once was a restaurant that had waitresses on roller-skates as a means to differentiate itself. The gimmick worked at first, but because the food was nothing special, eventually people stopped coming.
Often, businesses become so caught up in their brand identity that they lose sight of why they are in business in the first place, which is usually to provide excellent service at the best possible prices. It’s important to decide whether your business provides something that customers want or whether it provides something that they need. If it’s something that they need, then brand personality is less important than service and price.
Avoid thinking like a small business. Dream big from the start. In the global marketplace, even the smallest business can find a global audience. It works both ways: if you think too locally, you might find that some brand somewhere else in the world strikes up a conversation with your audience before you do.
The first time consumers encounter your brand is through your visual identity. Unless you’re a graphic designer yourself, it’s best not to try do it yourself. Rather pay a professional to develop your logo. If you don’t have the budget to hire an agency, find a free-lancer (but always ask to see their portfolio first!).
To keep a consistent brand identity, it’s a good idea to draw up brand guidelines that govern how your brand appears on all your marketing material. Remember that staff uniforms and décor are part of your branding too.
Your brand tells the world about your values – what you believe, why you do certain things, and why you do them a certain way. So it’s more than just a logo. Nando’s is a good example. While there are plenty of businesses that sell chicken (you can get perfectly good chicken from a supermarket), people identify with the cheeky, independent spirit of the Nando’s brand, which can now be found all over the world.
Not even the most brilliant branding can undo the damage of a badly chosen name. If your brand name does not echo your key business objectives, it will fail to communicate with your audience. In other words, a bad name is one that tells the audience nothing about your brand. You shouldn’t have to explain what your brand name means.