Ten ways to build a brand for your small business
Branding is just as important for small businesses as it is for big names. Indeed, many corporate brands are trying to look more like small firms in order to appeal to consumers that prefer to support independent brands. Dan Einzg of agency Mystery knows all about branding and here he shares his knowledge to help you develop your own brand identity.
Many small business owners I talk to already understand that branding is essential to their business, but a surprisingly high number of them don’t really know why.
They recognise the link between successful businesses and strong branding and aspire to build a brand that emulates similar success for themselves. And they understand that branding is not just a logo or how their business is perceived externally. But too few realise that successful brands have this branding at the heart of the business. So much so that in many ways you could almost substitute the word brand for business.
Branding is a way of defining your business, both to yourself and your team and also to your external audiences. It could be called the business’s “identity”, but only on the understanding that the identity embodies the core of what the business is and its values, not just what it looks and sounds like. Customers of all sorts of businesses are so savvy today that they can see through most attempts by companies to gloss, spin or charm their way to sales.
The benefits that a strategically defined brand can bring are the same as when people fall in love with each other. When customers connect emotively — because they share the same values and beliefs of a brand — it obviously leads to higher sales and better brand differentiation. It also leads to loyalty, advocacy and can even protect your price in times when competitors rely on promotional discounts to drive sales.
Just like with people when the relationship is strong, they often decide to start a family. Once customers are emotively connected with your brand it gives you the ideal platform from which to extend your offering or range.
Here are ten tips on how to successfully implement branding for your business.
1. Start by defining your brand.
Review the product or service your business offers, pinpoint the space in the market it occupies and research the emotive and rational needs and concerns of your customers. Your brand character should promote your business, connect with your customer base and differentiate you in the market.
2. When building your brand, think of it as a person.
Every one of us is an individual whose character is made up of stories, beliefs, values and purposes that define who we are and who we connect with. Our personality determines how we behave in different situations, how we dress and what we say. Of course for people it’s intuitive and it’s rare that you even consider what your own character is, but when you’re building a brand it’s vital to have that understanding.
3. Consider what is driving your business.
What does it believe in, what is its purpose and who are its brand heroes. These things can help establish your emotive brand positioning and inform the identity and character for brand communications.
4. One of your branding goals should be to build long-term relationships with your customers.
Don’t dress up your offering and raise expectations that result in broken promises, create trust with honest branding — be clear who your company is and be true to the values that drive it every day.
5. Your brand should always speak to your customers with a consistent tone of voice.
It will help reinforce the business’s character and clarify its offering so customers are aware exactly what to expect from the product or service.
6. However, don’t be obsessed with consistency, repeating the same message in the same way over and over again.
Alternatively, aim to make your key messages work together to build a coherent identity.
7. If you are a small business, don’t try to mimic the look of chains or big brands.
Try and carve out your own distinctive identity. There is a big consumer trend towards independent establishments, and several chains are in fact trying to mimic an independent feel to capture some of that market. Truly independent operators can leverage their status to attract customers who are looking for something more original and authentic, that aligns with how feel about themselves.
8. Be innovative, bold and daring – stand for something you believe in.
Big brands are encumbered by large layers of bureaucracy, preventing them from being flexible and reacting to the ever-changing needs of their customers. Those layers of decision-makers can make it hard for them to be daring with their branding.
9. Always consider your branding when communicating to your customer base, especially when doing offers.
Don’t lose your pride or dilute your brand positioning with indiscriminate discounting. Try offering more, rather than slashing prices. Promotions are an opportunity to reinforce your brand mission.
10.The old way of doing things was to simply stamp your logo on everything that sits still long enough.
The future of branding is fluid and engaging — respect your customers’ intelligence by not giving everything away up front. Generate some intrigue and allow them to unearth more about your brand for themselves. This is the way to foster ambassadors who revel in telling other people what they have discovered.
Dan Einzig is the founder of Mystery, the agency that helped develop brands for clients including the growing café chain Giraffe, Caffé Italia, Ponti’s Italian Kitchen, Caffé Ritazza, Masala Masala, Gino Gelato, Monkey Nuts and Za Za Bazaar, the largest restaurant in Britain.
Popular content on branding:
Sidney Meet Up/Peninsula Chamber of Commerce – branding workshop series
Branding Workshop Series Proposal
Series for presentation to the members of Sidney MeetUP and the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.
Holy Cow is an award-winning, full-service communications agency providing brand strategy, communications planning, graphic design, marketing, web development and social media & digital expertise.
Holy Cow has partnered with many of our region’s most recognized and loved brands — including Island Farms, the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Foundation, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, the Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia, PenYoga, Knickerbocker’s, Mayfair Shopping Centre, Columbia Fuels, the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility, and the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia.
Today, Holy Cow has grown to a staff of eight and offers services from a relaxed, friendly and professional oceanfront office.
Holy Cow Communication Design Inc.
301 – 2537 Beacon Avenue, Sidney BC V8L 1Y3
250 655 6597
Sidney Meet Up/Peninsula Chamber of Commerce – branding . The objective of the series is to increase participants’ knowledge of branding and to empower business owners to develop branding pieces.
The goal is to deliver a workshop series in which participants gain the greatest benefit from attending all four sessions, with each session building on the last.
The sessions would also be designed to be accessible and valuable to participants who only attend once or twice.
Participants who attend all four sessions will be entered to win a FREE 2 hour, one-on-one brand strategy consulting session with Erin Brocklebank, Communications Strategist for Holy Cow Communication Design (value $250).
• 4 x 1.5hr sessions (February, April, June, September)
• Beverage and light snack will be served
• Location requirements: seminar/conference-style room, projector, screen, Wi-Fi
Session 1, 2, & 3 (see below for full session outlines) will consist of a 45min presentation, followed by a 30min interactive exercise.
1. Branding: The Basics
Find out what branding is and why it’s important for your business to have a strong, recognizable and coherent brand. We’ll talk about how to create a consistent brand identity, expand brand experience and increase brand loyalty.
2. Your Brand I – From Reflection to Action Learn how to determine a baseline of what’s currently working and what’s not for your brand. Reflect on the challenges your own brand has faced and identify realistic room for growth. Each participant will leave with a completed brand mini-audit.
3. Your Brand II – Values, Promise and PersonalityIn this fun and interactive session, you’ll learn how to identify your business’s brand values, promise & attributes and leave with a map for your brand’s personality. Find out how to use compelling communications to tell your brand’s story.
4. Sharing Your Brand Story In this final session, participants are invited to share their brand story (outcomes of the work we’ve done together in our sessions and the 2 months since) and provide feedback to one another. We’ll end the series by discussing further ways to integrate the brand into overall business objectives.The last 15mins will be a discussion of the session with a focus on peer learning.
The final session will be 1hr 15mins of Closing remarks In this final session, participants are invited to share their brand story (outcomes of the work we’ve done together in our sessions and the 2 months since) and provide feedback to one another.
We’ll end the series by discussing further ways to integrate the brand into overall business objectives.
We are looking for 4 sponsors . Your logo and contact information will appear on all marketing material for all 4 sessions Cost $250.00
All 4 workshops $200.00 up front
Individual workshops $75.00 each
Location Catalina Grill, Sidney Industrial Park
Date Feb 26th 5:30