The United States loves small businesses; in fact, the Pew Foundation found that 71% of Americans view small businesses more favorably than any other institutions, including religious organizations. In addition to popularity, small businesses also have the benefit of flexibility – you can choose how to run your business without corporate breathing down your neck. So why with so much positivity is it still so hard to maintain a small business in the U.S.?
Because people also love brands.
They love the familiarity of a Target store layout or the assurance of consistency when they see the Golden Arches. This is where small businesses need to borrow from big companies.
Small businesses need to successfully brand themselves. They need to create a brand personality that draws people’s attention and offer a brand experience that makes customers want to come back. Essentially, you want your company name to become synonymous with your industry (think Kleenex or Band-Aid instead of facial tissue or bandage).
The following are tips for what works and what doesn’t for small business branding.
Be a part of your community
One of greatest advantages of being a small business is your ability to connect with the local community. There is no doubt that big businesses give back, but they are unable to do it on the personal level that small businesses can. Take on a cause and get involved. Not only will your brand receive increased exposure, but people will appreciate that your business cares about the community and associate your brand with the community and a good cause.
Don’t mimic big brands. The appeal of small businesses is their uniqueness. People love that small businesses have local flair and are personable. Use social media to give behind-the-scenes looks at your company. This will allow you to foster relationships with your customers and give them the feeling that they are a part of your business. It will make them feel that they not only have an interest in your brand, but they also have a stake in it.
Do not do this
Don’t skip the logo
While branding is much more than picking colors and a logo, both of these things are important. Many small businesses make the mistake of putting off logo design; they think that can wait until the business is up-and-running or more profitable. This inevitably leads to a string of poor, inconsistent designs being used as place holders. You need a logo to start. You need people recognizing and caring about your brand from day one. It may seem like a big investment, but it is cheaper to create a logo in the beginning than to create a logo and rebrand your company later.
Don’t confuse value and price
Value and price are two different things. People are often willing to pay more for something at a small business because they get a better quality experience than when shopping at a big company. Your small business must leverage this fact because chances are that your prices are not equivalent to what a corporation offers. Create and display your value proposition. A value proposition defines what sets you apart from the competition. It defines for you, your employees and your customers what your business does well and how you will do it.
Building a brand requires the work and dedication of your entire team. Once you create your brand strategy, write it down and make sure everyone is consistent in the brand they are representing and selling.