To many small business owners and employees, it seems that many large corporations are unfairly cornering the market when it comes to building a brand. Their astronomical advertising budget alone allows them to bombard consumers with ever changing sight, sound and scintillating campaigns.
Before you know it, they are taking up brick and mortar corner real estate with lines out the door (hello Starbucks).
Small business can build a brand by following suit of surrounding conglomerates that have found clever ways to make consumers feel as if they are part of a local experience.
The best part is that your small business will be the real deal!
Pick Your Poison
The problem with attempting to build a small business brand is that there is the potential to bite off more than you can chew. Before you embark on your brand building mission you must outline 3 things:
- Digital Targeting Tools (i.e. website, blog, social media, newsletters, etc.)
The most important part of these 3 is digital targeting tools. Whatever you choose, you must be able to set a clear plan for maintenance. Many small businesses become overzealous with their brand building vision and the next thing they know is their blog is out of date, their website is not being monitored or their social media platform is stale.
If you do not have the budget or manpower to juggle many targeting tools at once, start off with just one or two and build from there.
Keep the Core Coming
Consistently strengthen your relationships with your core customer base, as they will be your biggest advocates.
This means that, as you launch your brand, this base should feel as if they are part of the process. Start your campaign by offering updated progress, discounts and even contests where they can weigh in on such things as logo choice, events, and other open suggestions.
As interest and trust of your brand launch builds amongst your core it will hopefully branch out to a wider audience. As noted in a study by the Journal of Business Research and the Center for Retail Management, Northwestern University:
- 75% of consumers cite brand awareness as a major influencer when making a buying decision.
- 12-15% of consumers are loyal to one brand, but 55-70% of sales are generated by these loyal customers.
Think Outside the Box
Small business can build a brand more successfully if it thinks outside the box.
Ask yourself, “What is so special about what my small business offers compared to my competitors?” Whether it is very similar or completely new you need to convince consumers that it is something they need, want and/or must participate in.
No matter the business, approach it with the mindset that you are selling an experience rather than a product. How can the experience be pleasurable and unique? With its relaxing music, cushy chairs and array of taste-elements and flavors that can be combined to suit personal preferences, Starbucks makes selling coffee far from the coffee itself.
Your brand should resonate with the viewer so there is a lasting emotional memory association.
Go Logo Loco
Much of the brand you create will be its visual attraction.
Creating a unique, one-of-a-kind logo is paramount to being instantly recognized. Think of the many logos at the top of their game such as Nike, Amazon and Apple.
Tips on creating your brand logo:
- Keep it clean and simple. Do not complicate your logo with excessive words, size or colors.
- Make sure it ‘pops’ in both color, as well as black and white.
- Choose a stand-alone image so consumers will recognize your logo by itself without any surrounding words.
- A logo must be flexible. If it is too detailed, blowing it up on a billboard or reducing it to a business card could be a problem.
- Colors have many subliminal effects so be sure you research what you choose. For instance, blue often represents trust, strength and calmness, while green communicates life, nature and earth.
- Do not use clipart, pinwheels, swooshes or swoops as these are not only common but shout amateur.
- Be careful using juvenile or elaborate fonts (unless applicable to your brand). Clean and simple works best.
Brand Placement: From Wristbands to Social Media
When someone wears an item of clothing or sports an accessory with your logo on it, they are silently endorsing your company to everyone they encounter. Therefore, invest in giveaway or sale-able items such as logo adorned wristbands, t-shirts, hats and tote bags that are aesthetically pleasing enough that individuals will gladly wear the items.
The same concept easily applies to social media strategies.
The statistics below from a 2012 report by Performics, a marketing strategy company, show how important social media connection is:
- 75% of social media users responded to brands when reposted by a friend.
- 68% responded to brand offers on that brand’s social media page.
- 44% engaged with online branded content that contains pictures; 40% to status updates; 37% to videos; 36% to jokes and/or cartoons: and 35% with links to articles.
Anywhere your brand can be seen and burned into the mind of a consumer is essential. Building a brand is all about creating buzz and recognition.
Small business can build a brand and run alongside the big boys. All it takes is some research, innovation, maintenance and good old tenacity.
Matt Tomasino writes for various business publications, including Tomorrows Trends, in which he regularly contributes on finance, real estate and entrepreneurship. In addition to writing, this New York City resident likes to act and play the drums. He is also a licensed massage therapist.