10 branding tips to take your small business to the next level

By Lexie Lu

At some point in the life of every small business, you hit a rut where your business doesn’t seem to be growing. While there are many reasons your business might stagnate, one reason can be that you’re missing out on branding opportunities and failing to resonate with your target audience. If your business isn’t memorable in some way, then users may simply go to another company the next time they order — especially if that company has better prices.

Using consistent branding across all channels increases revenue by 23 percent. It takes users multiple interactions with your brand before they remember who you are and what you do. If those experiences don’t match, it may take even longer.

Get out of the rut you’re in by better defining your branding strategy. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, these 10 branding tips will get you there.

-Set specific goals

If you just start throwing your brand out there without any goals for how you want people to see your business, you won’t be as successful. Instead, sit down and write out some branding goals. What does your company stand for? How do you help people? What is the one thing that makes you stand out from the competition?

-Know your audience

When you read about marketing and branding, you’ll hear the advice time and again that you must know your audience. Branding is quite simply the way the outside world sees your business. You can control some of your branding, but ultimately the way others see you defines who you are. If you understand your audience, then you know the language and ideas they best respond to and can adjust your message to meet their expectations.

-Stand out from surrounding stores

If you’re located in a strip mall or shopping mall, it’s hard to stand out from all the other stores. Even if you’re at a trade show, there are dozens of other booths you must compete with. One solution is highlighting your assets with large-scale graphics. For example, use your brand colors and create a sign for your storefront to draw in foot traffic. Create a banner that conference attendees can see from a distance. Think about what defines your brand and how to show that with your signs.

-Pursue the right clients

Want to take your brand to the next level? Seek out clients with a lot of visibility. Go after that larger company or land that client nobody thinks you can. What do you have to lose by trying? If you gain one well-known client, others will follow suit — assuming you have what it takes to get the work done for that big-name client. Again, branding is about appearance, so who you have as a customer does matter.

-Give presentations

Think about the underlying problem that drives people to buy from you. For example, if you sell a house-cleaning product, then perhaps it’s concern over environmentally-friendly products that drives your buyer. How can you turn this concept into talks to local schools and garden clubs, or maybe reach local homeowners? Think about where your target audience hangs out, and the information they need to solve their problems, as intrinsically related to what you sell.

-Revamp your logo

If you already have an established logo, you don’t want a complete redesign — but maybe you do want to hire a professional to revamp it. Your logo should highlight your brand colors but also stand out from the competition. Use your logo everywhere, too. Put it on social media, add it to your website, and use it in your email signature and anywhere else you can think of.

-Go live on social media

Around 83 percent of marketers feel video is more important than ever. If you haven’t already reached out to your followers on Facebook and Instagram, now is the perfect time to jump on board. However, make sure your videos align with your brand’s goals. What is the purpose of each video?

-Build a relationship with current customers

Your current customers are your best source of branding. Spend time reaching out to your loyal customers who already love your product and make sure they are content.

Don’t be afraid to ask for their help in growing your brand. If they already love you, it doesn’t take much urging to get them to share info with others about your business. Ask them to share on social media and tell those they know about what you have to offer. Think of your current customers as a branding “army.”

-Create a unique voice

Think of your brand like a person and figure out what the voice is. Is your brand funny or serious? One example of a brand standing out on social media today is Wendy’s. They look for opportunities to make snide comments about other burger chains and add a lot of humor to various situations. Wendy’s definitely has a snarky attitude, but it’s one that resonates with the younger generation because of the underlying good-hearted humor.

-Set up a referral program

You and your marketing team have limited time and opportunities. However, you can expand on what you’re already doing by getting customers involved. Instead of just asking them to share your business, reward them for doing so. Give them a free item after a successful referral or a cash reward of some type.

Another idea is offering both them and the new customer five dollars off their next orders. This gives both the new customer and the current customer a reward.

Remember tradition but embrace new ideas

The old way of branding still works. Be consistent, look for opportunities to talk up your brand, and ask your customers for help. However, be open to new ideas too, especially as technology changes. Live videos, virtual reality games, and many other ideas are on the cusp of taking over our daily lives. Think about how your brand works in these situations and where you can insert an impression for potential leads.

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Lexie Lu is a web designer and CX enthusiast. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media and brandingFeel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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