Let’s say you’re in a party. Who do you think will get noticed more: the person who gamely introduces himself to other people, initiates friendly conversation, and has an outgoing personality – or someone who quietly sits in a corner while sipping wine, unconsciously blending with the wallpaper while watching the entire room come to life? The answer, as you can easily guess, is definitely the first person.
That much is a no-brainer, you might say.
When you were just starting out, it went without saying that you had to build your personal brand from the ground up. After all, as a start-up entrepreneur, you most likely had to do most of the marketing yourself, and you were your business’ biggest representative. Now that your company is gradually taking off and you perhaps have a small team to help with a considerable number of tasks, you may be sorely tempted to keep delegating and take back some of your free time. That much makes sense.
You do need to always take note, however, that now more than ever, your small business needs a very strong brand identity if you want it to survive – let alone be successful. Just like in the party scenario, you naturally remember someone who’s outgoing and friendly. In the same way, your business has to create a branding strong enough to be memorable. For that to happen, you need to resonate the message that your products or services will help solve a problem, address a need, and generally just add value to the lives of your customers.
Here are a few brand identity strategies you can easily implement for your small business.
- Have your own company logo.
Pictures are worth a thousand words. And this doesn’t just pertain to paintings or creative literature, but in just about anything. Have you ever picked up a book even before you properly read the title – simply because the design cover caught your eye? Or have you ever walked into a store without really meaning to because you liked their window display? That’s the power of visuals.
Utilizing visuals across the range of your company can admittedly take a fair share of time – and yes, budget. So rather than feeling overwhelmed and resorting to procrastination, start with the most basic of visual concerns: your company logo. You may have gotten away with a free logo in the past, but put the emphasis in the timeline – that was in the past. If you want to level up in your small business, then you’ve got to prove it with action. Designing your own logo gives you the ultimate freedom to create something that reflects exactly what your brand is all about. Executing this well means that you come up with a design (or hire someone to do it for you) that is easily recognizable by your target customers.
- Create a visible social media presence.
Don’t wait for your customers to find you – go and meet them where they are. And where are they? In different social media platforms, of course. You don’t need to go extreme and sign up for all the channels out there, but you do need to do a bit of market research to find out where your target market hangs out and create accounts in those platforms.
You don’t have to wait for the perfect timing, either. You can actually get started with social media with easy hacks and not a lot of time invested, and just gradually build your momentum from there. But remember that your profile pages, posts, messages, and the general feel of your content should match the brand identity you’re trying to establish.
- Work on recommendations and testimonials.
There’s a difference between doing your best in promoting your business and actually trying too hard to market it. At some point, you have to stop saying how great your company is and let your customers be your volunteer brand ambassadors. How do you do that? Well, before anything else, you have to make sure that your small business deserves the attention you want it to have in the first place. Strive not only to meet your customers’ expectations, but to exceed them whenever possible. When you do that, other people will be more than happy to like, share, tweet, and snap your brand.
Having consistent positive reviews also builds your credibility as a brand. It just tells the market that people are actually finding a lot of value in what you’re offering, and they’re willing to spread the word about your business to their family and friends.
- Deliver useful content.
You’re not obliged to talk about your business all the time. In fact, in social media, it’s usually advised to refrain from concentrating on just promotion and marketing. Instead, take this opportunity to find ways to create content that’s genuinely helpful for your readers. Find out what their pain points are and what the trending conversations and viral topics are about, and then draft content based on that.
It doesn’t have to be your own blog post or article if you have too much on your plate already; sharing posts from outside sources should be good enough. The point is you’re resourceful enough to offer useful content, whether that’s in the form of a how-to guide, a quick pick-me-up story, or even a funny picture and video.
In a nutshell, creating a brand identity for your small business should be on ongoing journey, not merely one-off experiences. Sure you want to do well when you’re launching a new product, and when you’re announcing a promo or contest in Facebook or Twitter. But even when there’s no special event, it helps if you always, always put your best foot forward, whether it’s addressing an online inquiry or responding to a feedback. It’s the compounding of repeatedly good experiences that will eventually earn the trust and loyalty of your customers.
How do you build your business branding? Share your tips and insights in the comments.