Branding, the sum total distinction between you and your competition, is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects by many small businesses. Once the logo has been created, the business cards have been printed, and the nice flashy sign has been placed over the door or in the window, most small business owners assume that their branding duties are done.
Of course, this is just not true.
Branding is more than associating an image or persona with your business. In fact, if you approach branding correctly it can help your business obtain a marked degree of recognition and credibility; making it easier for potential customers to remember your business. Nike is a great fallback for this example.
Look at it this way: the cheapest penny pincher on the planet–who has never spent more than $20 on a pair of shoes–may have never even visited a Nike store, but whenever they see the swoosh mark, they know right away what it represents.
While it certainly takes a lot of advertising and effort to get to a Nike-level of brand recognition, there are simple tactics every business can employ to follow in the footsteps of successful brands.
With the right “branding mindset” you can build your company’s reputation, an image and a company culture that not only connects with those who matter most, but also allows you to become much more than just another faceless, anonymous business.
So what do you need to do to create a memorable and captivating brand; and have it carve out your place in a competitive marketplace? Here are some basic branding tips to make sure you get started on the right foot.
1. Create a strong identity
A logo is more than just a picture that encapsulates your business. It is essentially the “face” of your business to the market.
Therefore, it is important that you have a logo that is unique; make sure there are no other companies that share an eerily similar logo. Also, be consistent with color schemes and fonts in every single bit of marketing material you release. Place your logo on everything from business cards to pens. Make sure everyone that steps into your doors (or visits your company website) knows what your logo looks like when they leave your offices.
Moreover, make sure your logo is memorable and that it associates well with the products and services you offer. If your brand is forgettable, or you lack a recognizable brand at all, you are in for some serious problems. Focus on creating a memorable, recognizable brand that evokes the right emotional reaction for your customers and clients.
2. Convey a striking brand personality
Sure, you want to be recognized as professional and well-grounded when you meet new clients. But consider your business approach more carefully—you will want to convey an image that compliments your brand.
For example, do you want to convey a no-nonsense rigid business atmosphere, or a more relaxed and casual environment? You will need to reflect these qualities in your marketing, so make sure the voice and image you display matches your company’s personality and goals.
3. Keep it simple
For taglines, mission statements and similar objectives, make sure you keep your message short and sweet. You can do serious damage to your image if you over-complicate branding statements. Instead be specific when describing that you do; there is no room for subtlety or vagueness when it comes to creating a world-class brand. Therefore, short and succinct messages are stronger than messages filled with buzzwords and flowery prose.
In the end it is crucial that you get these three branding steps right before heading out into a competitive marketplace. If you have a muddy message and a weak or non-relevant logo, the competition will leave you behind, while you’re wondering what went wrong.
Bobby Marhamat, a branding expert, is the founder and CEO of readyBUZZ, a collaborative social media marketing agency. Bobby has always been an entrepreneur at heart. He has helped Fortune 500 companies and small business owners look at different ways to make more money by unifying their brand and creating a niche within their target market. Connect with Bobby on Twitter.