Branding is that part of your marketing plan that sets your business apart from others in your industry and lets your customers and potential customers know what’s unique about your company. Your branding can include every aspect of your business, including your logo, website design, how your employees answer the phone, your office decor, your social media pages and every public-facing aspect of your business.
Every business can benefit from branding, but small businesses especially need good branding to set them apart from their competitors. Entrepreneur magazine calls developing your brand a journey of self-discovery, and that’s a good way to look at it. To get the most from your branding efforts, you need to meet with key employees and define:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What makes your company unique?
- What words and qualities do you want customers and potential customers to associate with your business?
The best brands answer those questions … and ask again and again as they grow.
Good strategic brand development
How does a small business with a limited budget get the most from branding? Below are a few strategies to consider:
1. Splurge on a dynamite logo. Your logo makes your business and all of your marketing materials distinct and unique. A great logo can impart your business philosophy, your company’s personality and your strengths all in one graphic. This is a must-have for any new business. If you’re bootstrapping your business, issue a call for submissions through a third-party freelance service like Odesk or Elancer.
2. Create a voice. Like a logo, the “voice” is the way you tell your company’s story, and it helps define your company’s personality. Progressive Insurance is an example of a company that uses a character – Flo – to represent the company’s voice. Other examples:
- Coca-Cola is the voice of proud Americans
- American Express’s voice is well-heeled, intelligent, sophisticated and worldly
- Nike’s “Just Do It” speaks confidence
- GoDaddy’s voice is a little rebellious, edgy and humorous
3. Tie it all together. For your branding to be successful, you need to have all aspects of your marketing plan interlinked. Your website should mention your print publications. Your print advertising and direct mail should mention your website, and so on.
4. Get the most for your branding dollars. Start-up companies, by definition, lack huge marketing budgets. To get the most from your branding dollars, invest first in the essentials—a great logo, a great website, business cards and someone to manage your social media and email marketing efforts. As you grow, you can add other components like point-of-purchase displays, direct mail marketing and logo items.
What are other examples of brand voices? Share your thoughts in our comments section.