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December 4, 2015

Ten branding tips for small businesses

No matter how good your idea, product or service, without effective branding it is unlikely to achieve its full potential. Branding is not just for the likes of big businesses. Any size of business can (and should) apply branding techniques in order to improve their chances of success. Here are just a few points to consider.

Budget
Creating and developing a brand takes time and money. Failure to budget for branding can lead businesses to grow organically with little or no direction. The cost of branding should be relative to your size of business. With careful planning the exercise can be both manageable and fruitful.

Research
An essential part to any business and brand. Knowing your market, potential customers and competitors allows you to tailor your offering. Learn from your competitors successes and mistakes and use that knowledge to form your business proposition. This will help you decide where your business is going to be placed in the marketplace.

Market testing
Nothing can compete with real testing. Family and friends will want to encourage you and they won’t want to dampen your enthusiasm so test your ideas, products and services on people that will be brutally honest with you. On occasions you may not like what you hear but this feedback can be essential to the success of your business.

Clarity
You know your business inside out but potential clients are yet to savour its delights. Make sure what you are offering is clearly communicated. Identify who it is you are targeting and focus on that market. You can’t be all things to everyone so play to your strengths.

Presentation
Whilst a well designed logo will help identify you in a crowded, competitive marketplace it needs to be supported by other forms of communication to give it context. Website, brochure, leaflet, business card, advertisement – each of these can work hard to help articulate and present a complete visual identity that helps customers and clients understand what your brand offers and buy into the proposition.

Size
Brands don’t have to be BIG! Your business may be small, niche or a cottage industry. The size of your company may form a crucial part of the brand and help you stand out in the marketplace. Just because your business is small doesn’t mean it’s any less professional than larger businesses.

Managing expectations
Brands can be developed to communicate on a myriad of levels. Whist you may have big ideas for where you are taking your business you need to make sure the brand you present can be backed up by the service or product you supply. Failure to fulfill expectations will only result in disappointed customers and clients.

Maintain your image
Having invested time and money into your brand you need to look after it. Pay careful consideration to everything you do to ensure you deliver and maintain your brand image.

Review
A brand is not a static element of a business – it is constantly changing and evolving. Periodically review your brand to ensure it still fits and is working as hard as you are for your business.

Avoid the DIY approach
Unless you are a branding expert it is unlikely you are going to be the best person to develop and create your brand. Most likely you will settle for something you like rather than something than choosing what’s right for your business. A professional designer and branding expert can (and should) act as a sounding board and be able to give honest advice. Having created, evolved and developed your business idea you may find yourself too close to make informed decisions and need a neutral third party to add some distance and clarity to the process.

Your brand is where a product or company connects on an emotional level to customers and clients. It’s the personality and promise of what is on offer. Branding for small businesses is essential if you are serious about being successful.