How To Build Your Small Business Brand

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Brands are the heart and soul of any business. Strong brands connect with their customers and create an emotional connection. Small business owners need to understand the basics of branding. Branding is the process by which a brand is created, defined, and communicated to its audience. The greater the emotional connection that your brand can create, the more valuable it becomes in the marketplace.

What Happens When You Ignore Branding

Many businesses focus solely on marketing tactics to grow their business. However, without a branding strategy in place, businesses are unable to differentiate themselves from the competition. A brand-building system is essential because it establishes the company’s personality, creates loyal customers, and helps them stand out in the marketplace.

A successful branding effort can be a daunting task. There are many aspects to consider when developing a brand, so it’s important to first determine who your target market is and what they want.

Find Out How Your Business Is Perceived

Have you ever wondered how your business is perceived? There are several different ways to measure public opinion about your business. One way is to use social media analytics tools that can give you a snapshot of how people are feeling about your brand.

We all know that we’re biased when it comes to our business. We know what we want and how it should be done, so we create things for ourselves. However, if you get a customer’s perspective on your business, you can see where they might be coming from and what needs to be changed or improved.

Talking to your customers is important. To serve them better, you need to know what they want and what they think will solve their problems. Your customers can tell you what problems they’re suffering from and describe how it affects their situation.

The best way to get people to buy into your product is by treating them like humans. Research shows that treating customers with respect and dignity will result in a positive outcome for the business.

When you speak to customers, it’s important to listen and ask them questions. You should always take notes and keep them in mind for the future. For example, if a customer is considering a particular brand, you should find out why they’re considering that brand and what other brands they’re considering. This will give you clues on how to target that customer with sales and marketing campaigns in the future.

Identify Your Competitors

You probably think of your direct competitors as the only marketing competitors. Direct competitors are the businesses that offer the same product or service as you. Search online to identify your direct competitors. Go to websites like Quora and Reddit, and search for your industry. Consult your network, go back to your customers. What other companies did they consider before choosing you?

Any business needs to identify its direct competitors. This helps the business understand what they are up against, what strategies are being used already, and how much of a threat these businesses are. It also gives insight into how the business can differentiate themselves from their competition.

A large number of businesses are ignoring their indirect competitors. Indirect competitors, on the other hand, offer a different product or service that seeks to solve the same problem. This is a big mistake because indirect competitors are the most dangerous type. They sink into obscurity and then resurface to spread their brand like wildfire. For example, Apple competes with banks and FinTech companies with Apple Pay. Today Apple Pay is the largest in-store mobile wallet provider with 45.5% of the market share. Since 2015, Apple Pay transactions at U.S. retail stores have increased from an estimated $5 billion to $90 billion.¹

Nike and Adidas are direct competitors. Nike has the largest market share among sports shoe companies, but Adidas has been gaining on them in recent years. That said, Nike’s indirect competitors are brands like Converse and Sketchers who don’t produce athletic shoes but sell sneakers.

Analyze Patterns To Predict the Upcoming Trends

To understand patterns and what they mean for the future, it’s necessary to analyze data from a variety of sources. For example, it could be your business’ sales history or the socio-political environment. Either way, it is important to not just look at one type of data and think that will tell you everything about a trend.

To check for trends, search by industry on Google, read industry reports. You can also set up Google Alerts to look up keywords over time.

While doing market research, people often get caught up in information overload. It’s been estimated that the average person spends 10 hours a day consuming content from all sources. This can be a lot to keep up with, and as a result, people often miss out on the most important stories, data points, and updates that they need to know about. You have to know when to stop looking at the data and start putting it into action.

Determine Brand Positioning That Sets You Apart

A brand’s positioning statement is an important part of the strategy for any business, but it can be difficult to know where to start. There are many aspects to take into consideration when developing your positioning, but you must ensure that it sets you apart from your competitors.

Take out your notebook and pen, and draw a grid with two axes with two things that are significant to your customers in that market. The key to succeeding in today’s world is to understand where your business and competitors fit on the product-to-platform spectrum. Understanding where your business is positioned will help you make decisions about what to focus on, and what to outsource.

Use Visuals To Define Your Brand Identity

Often business owners when they think about visual identity think about logos. A logo is the strongest visual representation of the business’ identity, which often includes its name. To be successful in today’s marketplace, a business must have a strong and unique brand identity. A business’ logo will be seen time and time again, so it needs to be memorable and easy to recognize.

Nonetheless, any communication material-whether it’s a presentation, letterhead, or brochure-creates a visual identity for your business. Successful businesses can create a strong visual identity for their brand that is instantly recognizable. This helps them stand out in the crowd and communicate their values to potential customers. With this, they can provide customers with a more user-friendly experience by ensuring there is continuity in design across all communication materials.

Layout all physical and digital communication materials you have. Check to see if your current communication materials position you in the right category. It is an integral part of marketing, and it’s more important than ever for businesses to be consistent in messaging across all platforms. If you’re not sure if your current materials are positioning you correctly, go back to square one, start with customer research.

Adopt Digital Marketing in Brand Building

In a world driven by technology, customers are now going online for information. They are using mobile devices to shop, bank, and do many other things. Customers have also switched from watching television to OTT at home. More and more people are using smart assistants like Alexa or Google home to purchase items on the internet.

Digital marketing is a vital component of any successful brand-building campaign. As competition increases, it becomes essential for businesses to get on board with the latest trends in digital marketing.

The idea is to enable marketing messages to reach consumers more than once. The first incidence of marketing messages occurs during the initial exposure to an advertisement, which leads to the second incidence of exposure when the consumer recalls or is reminded of the brand or product. A study found that individuals who were exposed to a reminder advertisement demonstrated greater recall of it than those who weren’t exposed.

Find Your Corner of the Market

Double jeopardy laws of marketing states brands with less market share have fewer customers (the first jeopardy), and these customers are less loyal to their brands (the second jeopardy).

Most people know that there is a high chance of losing in a head-to-head battle with a larger competitor. The bigger the company, the better it is positioned to dominate any niche. A small business just starting has very little chance of competing with established brands that have had years to build its reputation and customer base. A business will have a better chance of succeeding if they market to consumers before they already have a product.

Find a niche market, a corner of the market-penetration, and purchase-frequency grid that’s big enough to sustain you but small enough that the big brands aren’t paying attention to them, and go all-in to serve them. For example, the health and wellness market is currently worth USD 4.5 trillion.² There are many small businesses that are serving this market by making their product or service lines that cater to the specific needs of the customers.

One of the best ways to create a moat for your business is by investing in intellectual property. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks all work to protect your company’s ideas from being stolen or used without permission. Your business needs to create something different from the competition. Stay ahead of the curve by protecting your intellectual property.

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Data-driven digital media marketer and brand communication strategist. Experienced in lead generation, paid media promotion and SaaS product management.

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Arijit Dutta

Data-driven digital media marketer and brand communication strategist. Experienced in lead generation, paid media promotion and SaaS product management.