Why is branding important? Almost every SME owner thinks that investing in branding is like buying a yacht. It’s expensive, unnecessary, and reserved for the industry BIG guns.
But think again. Research tells us that:
- Showcasing a brand consistently across platforms (online and offline) can boost revenue by as much as 23%.
- Brands with poor branding strategies end up paying 10% higher salaries.
- A staggering 70% of brand managers consider building an audience to be more important than converting sales.
- Finally, around 89% of customers tend to stay loyal to brands that share their values.
It doesn’t take a genius to do the math. If you’re not investing in creating solid brand guidelines, you’re going to lose to your competitors.
So let’s get to the next step! Read on to learn how to discover and develop your own brand. Plus, apply the best branding practices that’ll drive your business forward.
5 Sound Branding Strategies for Small Businesses
Narrow down your target audience
In digital marketing, there’s a saying that goes: If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one.
Even for small businesses, it’s crucial to define your audience.
These key segments will help you create a buyer persona:
- Educational background
- Income levels
- Marital status
- Geographic location
- Personality type
- Buying behavior
- Personal interests (hobbies, lifestyle, etc.)
- Competitor analysis and research
Having a specific target audience also helps personalise your products and services — a huge win for any business.
Why? People are willing to pay about 20 percent more for a personalised product.
One thing’s for sure — it pays to really know your target audience.
So engage in detailed market research and conduct surveys to get accurate data. This forms the foundation of your branding guidelines.
Some real-life examples worth looking at:
Amazon’s Recommendation Engine uses data and AI to suggest relevant products to customers.
Coke’s “Share a Coke” campaign is another brilliant example. In an ingenious move, the company released bottles featuring over 250 common millennial names. They also included common phrases such as “Wingman” or “Bestie.”
With the #ShareaCoke hashtag on Twitter and a special emoticon, this set a new world record for World’s Largest Cheers. Data shows that between 12 a.m. Sept. 17 and 12 a.m. Sept. 18, 2015, #ShareaCoke recorded more than 170,500 mentions globally. Personalised marketing at its best!
Pen down an on-point mission, vision, and slogan
We’ve all seen brands flaunt their mission-vision statements with pride. But they’re often interchanged — or misunderstood.
A brand’s mission statement is more descriptive in nature. Think of it as the “why” and “how” of your product or service. It should aim to inform and inspire the company and its decision-makers from within.
Meanwhile, a vision statement talks about how the brand will impact the world at large through its product or service. It aims to inspire stakeholders outside the company (think customers, onlookers, and the community).
Of course, there’s the brand tagline. It’s your chance at being creative and leaving a mark on your customer’s mind.
Pro-tip: The best taglines in the world are short and punchy.
Let’s look at how Nike defines all three elements to understand this better.
Mission: “Do everything possible to expand human potential.”
Vision: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”
Brand Tagline: “Just Do It”
Other great examples include Honest Tea’s mission statement, as shown on their website:
And TED’s mission statement, as seen on their website:
Decipher your brand’s personality type
Every business needs a voice and personality to establish a connection with consumers.
Come to think of it — this makes so much sense, right? When you think of the brand Apple, words like artistic, sophisticated, and creativity come to mind.
Thinking of brands without a personality is almost unheard of today. Sometimes, brands also strengthen their personality by getting an icon or celebrity to represent their brand.
Find your brand voice and tone — and stick to it
Image Source: https://sproutsocial.com/
According to Demand Metric, 82% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after reading tailored content.
With paid ad campaigns costing SMEs a fortune each day, it’s more important than ever to set a cohesive content marketing strategy.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Would you rather see brand ads on every page you visit or willingly put your trust in a brand that relates to you? We’d choose the latter, to be honest.
Once you’ve decided on a brand personality, it’s easier to find your voice. It’s important to be consistent in your brand tone. This will be your guide in communicating with your audience.
Pro-tip: Frame your message in a way that speaks to the customer’s buying rationale and psychology:
Infographic Source: MOI Global
How to incorporate this feature into your online branding strategy
One of the best brands that incorporate humor (not at the expense of the user) is Cards Against Humanity:
Another interesting example to note is when Slack rebranded their logo:
When it comes to brand engagement, Belkin achieved a masterstroke.
It leveraged its social media community during its Lego iPhone cases launch. How? It asked customers to personalise their iPhone cases and share beautiful pictures on Instagram. The results were phenomenal:
Handy tip: If you’re confused about where to start, check out Mailchimp’s style guide. It offers in-depth knowledge and extensive examples of how to understand your brand’s tone and voice. This applies especially for rich channels like social media as well as newsletters.
Make your aesthetic count
Did you know?
94% of the world’s population recognizes the Coca-Cola logo.
Colour improves brand recognition by up to 80%.
People react differently to different colours. Make a good impression by getting your logo and brand colours right.
Don’t know which colours represent your brand best? Leverage colour psychology. This colour psychology guide can help.
Another thing to keep in mind is that in today’s world, image is king and content is queen. The average human’s attention span has stooped to an all-time low of merely 8 seconds.
What does this mean? No one wants to read endless paragraphs on a single webpage.
Pro-tip: Inject relevant images to your blog posts. This gives the eye a break from reading and nudges them to carry on until the end.
One of the best ways to understand your brand’s visual elements is to brainstorm and create a mood board. This includes elements such as:
- Color palette
- Fonts and typography (1 to 3 per mood board)
- Photography/graphics/illustration style
- Iconography and infographics (if needed)
- Navigation style and website layout
- Spatial awareness or white space usage
- Overall contrast
Here are some businesses that make their websites a treat for sore eyes in every sense of the word:
- Campos Coffee: Great visuals, on-point copy, and a clean branding design make this website a clear winner.
- Monday.com: This website talks about the flagship Project Management software in a simple, minimal, and engaging manner.
- Pop-Tarts’ Twitter account has an interesting bio:
- Wayfair’s Instagram account is peppered with funny, engaging, personalised, and informative content:
Bring your brand to life
Consistent branding can go a long way for small businesses. It saves you on advertising costs, boosts your online marketing, and develops customer loyalty.
Use these guidelines and best practices to cement your own brand and launch it to the world.