Is branding really important for small businesses?
The answer is a resounding YES! A brand is way more than a logo or a tagline. It is the “soul” and “personality” of your business. It’s what makes you unique and memorable — and compels customers to want to buy what you’re selling…again and again.
A brand is what comes to mind whenever your prospects or customers hear the name of your business. Especially in today’s competitive business environment, living, breathing, and owning distinguishing (and superior) traits is more important than ever.
Whether you run a retail, restaurant, or personal or professional services business or have a brick-and-mortar presence or sell online, you need to establish and maintain a consistent, believable, and integrated brand throughout all your communications.
As the marketing landscape has become more complex, you may be using multiple ways to communicate with customers — online, printed materials and signage, social media, video, and more. The voice, messages, and quality of these communications should be consistent no matter how you’re reaching consumers or businesses.
Building a great brand doesn’t need to be expensive. It does, however, take some thought and patience. Dig deep and ask yourself, “What do I do differently from my competitors that is truly meaningful to the people I sell to or serve?” “What are my prospects looking for (or consider valuable) that only my business can deliver?” Your loyal customers can provide important feedback on why they buy from you rather than another business.
Many brands (large and small) pride themselves on being purpose-driven brands. They exist not only to provide a product or service to their customers but to make the world a better place. For example, Amazon aspires to “enable freedom of choice.” Mission BBQ, a rapidly-growing business not only prides itself on combing the country for the best recipes but also on honoring men and women who serve their communities and country. If you’re going to follow this path, be sure that you’re truly committed to the cause you’re supporting. Customers can easily see through companies that are doing good just because it can result in more sales.
Truly great brands also train their employees to be living, breathing examples of their company’s personality. When a team member is rude to a customer or shows up late, it can tarnish your entire brand reputation. On the flip side, when someone has a terrific experience with one of your team members, he’ll tell his friends how wonderful your business is.
Starbucks is often cited as a great example of retail branding. They have proven that customers are willing to pay more for an immersive “experience” that is familiar and provides consistent quality. By immersive we mean every aspect of the environment — look and design, attire and behavior of workers, ambient music, and even smell.
WOW your customers/prospects and soar above your competition. Be the brand that customers are drawn to!
Big Brand Tips for Your Small Business Budget Nancy A. Shenker