One of the key steps to starting a new company is creating a strong small business brand. Do it right, and you’ll have a memorable brand that customers line up to do business with. How can you get your brand off on the right foot? Here are 10 steps to creating a business brand.
1. Understand the basics of a small business brand
To craft your brand message, start by asking yourself (and answering) these questions:
- What does your company do? Can you distill that down to a few sentences or bullet points?
- Why does your company do what it does? The “why” is the passion for your company that you want your brand to convey.
- What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)? Your brand should convey what your business does and how you do it differently than anyone else.
- Who is your target market? What are their interests, passions, characteristics, and needs?
- How would you describe your product or service? List the features in order of importance.
- What are the benefits of your product or service? What needs does it fulfill for consumers?
- What is the “personality” of your business? Fun? Serious? Caring? Strong?
The answers to these questions will form the foundation of your brand.
2. Choose a domain name to enhance your brand
Your business’s name should express the value and uniqueness of your product or service. Equally important to branding is getting the right domain name. According to the Domain Name Association, choosing one of the new top-level domains available can boost your branding while making it easier to get the domain name you want. Names such as Explanatory.Video, Winelist.Consulting, Whitehat.Video, Really.Social or Sundance.Studio can make your business memorable while quickly communicating what you do.
3. Tap into emotional branding
Feeling an emotional attachment to a brand can motivate customers to purchase. According to the FIT 2017 Millennial Consumer Expectation and Brand Perception Survey, 48 percent of millennials are more likely to buy from a brand if they know the people behind it. When you’re starting a small business, use your entrepreneurial story to give your brand an edge. Include an “About Us” or “Our Story” page on your website to share your passion for your business, the story of how you started, and the people behind your business.
4. Focus your brand by choosing a business niche
Sometimes when entrepreneurs are looking for businesses to start, they try to be all things to all people, which can lead to branding problems down the road. The more narrowly you can define your niche, the more specific and memorable your business’s brand will be. Dig into your market research to find the best niche. You may want to concentrate on customers in a specific geographic region or age group, or look at your competitors’ target market and choose a market they aren’t serving.
5. Brand your small business on social media
Maintain a consistent brand message across all your social media platforms, and seek out social media influencers to help spread the word. An influencer is someone on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry, has access to a large audience and has extensive persuasive reach. Acknowledge and reward customers who act as brand advocates, and reach out to influencers in your industry to let them know about your brand. Search hashtags and keywords relevant to your business or industry to find influencers; use Klout and Buzzsumo to quantify social influence.
6. Use the power of color to brand your small business
Choose the right color scheme to use in all your branding materials. Consider:
- Bright, vibrant colors can cause headaches; use these shades sparingly and combine them with neutrals.
- High-contrast colors are easy to see from a distance. Use them in your store signage, outdoor advertising, and presentations to large groups.
- If you’re not sure what color combinations work well together, look at color schemes used by other businesses. Search online for websites you like and note what colors get your attention.
7. Put your product in the perfect packaging
If you start an online business, your packaging needs to stand out online, whether on a computer, tablet or smartphone. If you are packaging a product for sale in brick-and-mortar retail stores, it needs to attract attention on a shelf full of competitors. Make it appealing to pick up and touch. Get ideas by looking at your competitors’ packaging and assessing what you like and don’t like about it. The more competitors you have, the more distinctive your brand must be.
8. Know the difference between B2B and B2C branding
While B2B purchases are motivated mostly by facts, statistics and numbers, B2C purchases are motivated primarily by emotion. For B2B buyers, the emotional factor is a fear of making a poor decision. You’ll need to sell your expertise and experience to overcome this fear. Because B2B buyers are typically driven by need to solve a problem or do something better, try presenting your product or service as a problem solver.
B2C customers may also be driven by need, but just as often, they’re motivated by wants or impulses. To craft effective B2C branding, learn what motivates your target customer, such as the desire to appear younger, more successful, have more fun, save time or save money, and incorporate that motivation into your brand message.
9. Use employees to convey your brand message
From their words and their appearance to their actions, employees embody your brand to your customers. Educate employees about your brand and set standards for how you expect them to convey it. You may have them follow specific procedures on the job, use certain words when talking to customers or even dress a certain way, such as wearing a uniform or a business suit.
10. Protect your brand
Once you’ve created your small business brand, do everything you can to protect it (including incorporating your business). A registered trademark protects your brand name, your logo and your business’s slogan. You can search for existing trademarks here. Get acquainted with the trademark process at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. The site guides you all the details of applying for trademark protection. Once you have your trademark and are using it, make sure to maintain and renew it as necessary.
By taking these 10 steps, you’ll be well on your way to developing a small business brand that attracts customers for years to come.