How to create a strong brand identityAuthor: Jake | Created: 06-01-2022
"I'll invest in developing a brand once I'm up and running."
Does this ring a bell? This is a prevalent perspective among small business owners who are focused on marketing and sales but forget that their company is also a brand.
While you may think you're saving time by ignoring your brand identity, you'll just end up with more hassles in the long run.
If you don't brand yourself, your messages may reach through loud and clear, but they'll have unintended consequences and cause long-term problems. While the impact of this method may not be immediately evident, it will manifest itself in a variety of ways: you'll get more questions than purchases, audiences won't understand what you're all about, and potential customers will buy from your competitors.
Small businesses must develop and cultivate emotional relationships with their audiences through messaging, marketing, and engagement in order to compete. Your brand is your most precious asset, and when done correctly, the advantages and return on investment are measurable and quick.
We'll walk you through all you need to know about developing a brand identity for your small business in this article. You'll learn about branding best practises, how to employ a small business branding consultant, and how to use brand listening tools, among other things.
How to create brand identity?
Your logo is only part of your brand identity. Style guides, marketing materials, and colour palettes are only the beginning. Your brand identity is the sum of how your company seems, feels, and communicates with customers. It has an impact on the entire customer experience, as well as how others perceive your reputation and business.
With so much at risk, your small business's brand identity will not appear out of nowhere. It takes time, study, and careful consideration, but the end result is well worth the effort.
So, where should you begin?
If you don't know who your customers are, you won't be able to establish a brand identity that resonates with them. So, first and foremost, spend time getting to know your primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences. Create personas to represent their preferences, activities, and values.
Move on to competition research once you have a solid understanding of your customers. What aesthetic features, personalities, and themes are other companies in your industry using to differentiate themselves?
Finally, don't forget to interview your staff, who are the ones who are most familiar with your present brand. They have valuable insight into how the company should be perceived, as well as what has and has not worked in the past.
The fun will begin after the research step is completed. It's time to put all of your knowledge into pictures. Here's a rundown of some of the most prevalent brand assets:
- Color palettes
- For marketing efforts, photography and graphics are required.
- A style guide that describes how to use a logo and how to speak in a certain tone of voice, among other things.
Consider the three Cs of branding and how they might assist you as you create your brand assets:
Clarity: It is your responsibility, not your customer's, to find out what you're trying to say. Your brand isn't clear enough if people have to work to understand something you've done.
Consistency: Your poster should speak in the same tone as your website, which should speak in the same tone as your Twitter account. Why? Your brand's consistency instils confidence and discipline.
Commitment: We want our commercials to go viral, and if they don't, we become discouraged and change our strategies. Keep in mind that successful branding takes time.
Define your brand
With a marketing strategy, you can solidify your brand identity. Although it will contain elements of why you started your firm, this isn't exactly your genesis narrative.
Your brand story should aim to answer the following questions:
What does your company stand for? What are the problems that your product or service solves? How does your company deal with these issues? Why did you determine that your company should be in the business of relieving such aches and pains? What direction do you see your company taking?
Remember that your brand storey is more than just the elevator pitch you give people when they inquire about your company. It's all about how people perceive your brand and why it exists.
Iterate and refine
It's fine if your brand identity evolves over time. Analyse and develop your initial brand identity depending on customer input once you've built it. To find out what works best, try out fresh techniques and tactics. On your homepage, for example, you could A/B test alternative taglines to discover which storey connects the most with your audience.
3 most common branding myths
You're likely to come across some typical branding fallacies early on in the process of developing your brand identity. Unfortunately, far too many business owners believe these urban legends, which can be detrimental to their firm in the long term.
The following are three big branding misconceptions that have been debunked:
Myth 1: "Branding is only significant while I'm developing."
Don't undervalue your company's most valuable asset. Branding can account for anything from 30% to nearly 50% of a company's value. This is because well-executed branding transforms your product or service into something unique and unrivalled: the value you provide to your target market.
To put it another way, branding is not only important but also necessary at every step of your company. Your brand must be relatable in order to capture anyone's attention. Just because you've established a brand doesn't imply people will flock to you. It ought to convey your value and solution. Consumers will form their own perceptions of your business if you merely go out into the world with a passionate idea and no investment in your brand.
Myth 2 about branding: "I can't afford that!"
Branding is an investment, not a cost. It's a financial asset purchase. It has the potential to be your most valuable asset, even if no one agrees on how to value it. Consumer awareness, associated attributes, and loyalty are all part of brand equity. Although intangible characteristics are difficult to assess, this does not mean you cannot or should not invest in this important asset. The best method to deal with this asset's intangible nature is to grab your tale and construct it.
This begs the question: how much should you set aside for this investment? Budget 12 - 15 percent or more of an initial expenditure on branding, according to our rule of thumb. This money can be used to hire a branding strategist, graphic and web designers, a copywriter, a marketing expert, a social media specialist, and other related professionals.
Myth 3: "Branding is too hard for my business,"
Surprisingly, some people assume that branding makes things more complicated, but in actuality, not investing in branding makes things more complicated.
Invest in your brand strategy, regardless of how "basic" you think your company is. Organise. Determine the plot of your storey. Make it easy to understand, consistent, and repeatable. It's easier to make future decisions based on a set of branding principles than it is to rehash your story every time you launch an ad campaign or an email funnel.
Top brand listing tools
It's one thing to spend the time, energy, and resources required to establish a brand, but it's quite another to grasp what people truly think about it and your business, whether you employ a brand consultant or do everything in-house.
For all you know, you may have fifteen one-star Google reviews, three scathing blog entries circulating on Facebook, and seven angry tweets about a negative customer experience, undoing all your hard branding work.
Fortunately, there's a simple, cost-free way to hear from your present and potential customers: social networking. Every day, millions of conversations take place on social media, and you can use a simple post to help define, promote, and - if required - defend your brand.
Here are five essential social media listening tools and tactics to help you locate and listen in on those conversations, monitor the internet and social media for brand mentions, and engage when the time is right.
- Determine appropriate keywords and phrases to search for conversations taking place in your area or that are directly related to your business.
What are the keywords and phrases that consumers or prospects might use to find your company or the services you provide?
Google Trends is an excellent tool for determining which phrases people use more frequently than others, as well as for locating similar search terms and geographic interest.
Knowing this, we may concentrate on discussions regarding the most popular keywords. Try typing in keywords relating to your industry, brand name, and products or services to discover which ones are most frequently searched for. This can help you focus your content strategy, sales campaigns, and email blasts on the terms that consumers are searching for.
- Pay attention to the most important conversations in your business.
What method do you use to determine what individuals are saying? What method do you use to determine who is speaking? These instruments will inform you.
For busy entrepreneurs that don't have time to watch their brand on social media, Google Alerts is a terrific social media listening tool. When any of the search phrases you've set up are referenced, Google Alerts will send you an email. You can customise the frequency of these notifications to keep your finger on the pulse as closely as possible.
Search for terms and observe overall frequency, mood, influencers, sources, and reach with socialmention, a hidden gem among social media listening tools. This snapshot gives you a lot of useful information about the online health of your company and allows you to export the data for your own records or to analyse in Excel. With the sentiment rating, you can observe how customers feel about your business and listen out for any unfavourable references so you can help alleviate the problem.
- Keep an eye on the channels and where the conversation is taking place.
Mention is similar to Google Alerts in that it allows you to create an alert, but it aggregates all of this information into a huge feed that assigns a sentiment score to each mention and flags key mentions that require action. Mention also monitors your complete online presence at a look by pulling data from millions of sources.
Hootsuite offers easy feeds that display all of your social media accounts in one place; you can simply listen in on your Facebook page, monitor Twitter mentions, hashtag and keyword searches, and follow influencer tweets all from one place. The main strength of Hootsuite lies in its listening and search capabilities. When you search for a hashtag or keyword in Hootsuite, you can see every tweet containing that keyword and who is sharing it right away.
Your customer's actual voice is on social media. Don't lose out on the everyday opportunities to aid your customers and your business since it is usually unfiltered, unfettered, and unrestrained (for better or worse).
6 branding tips to help you stand out
Consider the folks who stand out in a gathering and appear to have the most friends. They have a charismatic personality that is memorable, empathetic, and emotionally engaging. As more people come into contact with them, their popularity grows.
The same can be said of a brand. You want people to remember your product or service because it solves a problem for them or makes them happy.
Here are some of our favourite small business branding ideas:
Be memorable, not modern
Most people are creatures of habit, and they prefer to use items that they are accustomed with. Are you still not convinced? Consider Gap's rebranding attempt (and spectacular failure) in 2010. The company altered its tried-and-true 20-year-old emblem to something they believed would appeal to new clients. Existing consumers, however, were dissatisfied. They demanded the return of their renowned logo!
After analysing opinions on social media platforms, Gap decided to drop the new logo in an effort to keep customers pleased. However, there is a valuable lesson to be gained here: Make a lasting impression, not a trendy one. Why mess with a good thing if customers understand the present company's identity and are satisfied with the product?
Maintain and track your social media presence
You need to take your brand identity to the people, and those people are on social media channels. If you're solely on Twitter, this might be a good moment to expand your social media footprint. Go to Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, where the majority of your audience is.
Make sure your brand's look, feel, and messages are consistent when you build social profiles on these platforms. If you don't, you'll be confusing your consumers and diluting your brand identity.
Get customers and influencers to advocate for your company
A powerful brand is one that is talked about. Recruiting fans to assist with brand enhancement activities can result in more rapid and significant effects. Encourage your consumers to write online reviews and you'll go a long way.
Your influencers can promote your brand by tweeting, shouting, snapping, and talking about it. Having a large following gives you credibility and piques curiosity among your target audience, which is primarily made up of people who listen to their peers.
Deliver useful material to your target audience
Consumers and businesses go online to find information that will help them make decisions about items or services that can solve specific challenges.
This process occurs well before any brand is chosen, giving you the time to supply them with that knowledge and establish brand familiarity. They will begin to identify expertise with your brand once the information can be implemented in their lives and gives the value they expected.
Make an experience, but don't forget about the little things
Keep in mind that your brand is the sum of all of their interactions with your business. This entails paying attention to all the small aspects that make a big difference to your customers, such as response speed, the ability to search and obtain answers fast, and a straightforward checkout, e-commerce system, and payment system.
Take a stand for what you believe in and define your principles
A powerful brand represents something. When buyers see a brand that focuses on particular values that represent what they are for or against, it's refreshing.
Standing out for social justice, the environment, or a business practise is one example of this. Whatever you choose, make it clear that your values are an integral element of your brand.
Your competition in today's digital economy isn't just the store down the street. There are tens, hundreds, or even thousands of businesses exactly like yours competing for attention on the internet.
A solid brand identity is more vital than ever for small businesses to stand out. Because small businesses don't have the resources to run major marketing efforts to compete with larger companies, it's even more important to know who you are, what you provide, and who you're selling to in order to thrive.
Small business branding isn't an option; it's a requirement. It is critical to devote effort to ensuring clarity and the creation of a professional corporate brand. A brand is the most important business driver for all communications, and it affects all part of your company.
Your brand is ingrained in the minds of your clients. Create unforgettable experiences for your customers. They will love you back if you wow them and show them that you care about them.