One of the key steps to starting a new company is creating a strong brand. Do it right, and you’ll have a memorable brand that customers line up to do business with. If you are a new business owner, you might not know where to even start. I’ve been there and I totally understand that feeling. Today I’d like to share ten steps to help you create a great brand for your small business.
1. Understand the basics of a small business brand
To craft your brand message, start by asking yourself (and answering) these questions:
- What does your company do? Can you distill that down to a few sentences or bullet points?
- Why does your company do what it does? The “why” is the passion for your company that you want your brand to convey.
- What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)? Your brand should convey what your business does and how you do it differently than anyone else.
- Who is your target market? What are their interests, passions, characteristics, and needs?
- How would you describe your product or service? List the features in order of importance.
- How does your offering solve your customers’ problems?
- What are the benefits of your product or service? What needs does it fulfill for consumers?
- What is the “personality” of your business?
- What values are important to your small business?
Take lots of time to explore these questions and their answers. These answers will form the foundation of your brand.
2. Choose a domain name to enhance your brand
Your business’s name should express the value and uniqueness of your product or service. Equally important to branding is getting the right domain name (the address of your company’s website).
When purchasing a domain name, consider these tips:
- You want it to be closely tied to the company name or flagship product/service.
- You want your domain name to be easy to remember.
- While there are plenty of new and trendy domain extensions, stick with a traditional .com so it is easy for people to understand, remember, and use.
- Keep the domain name as short as possible. Longer domains are harder to remember and difficult to type.
- Make sure the domain is easy to spell. A cute spelling will lead to missing website traffic and sales.
- Say the new domain name out loud so you hear how it sounds. If it sounds corny, goofy, or silly keep brainstorming.
- Don’t rely on domain registrars to provide you with the best domain options. Brainstorm and create a great list, so you are in control of your future brand.
- If you find a domain that works and it is a premium domain (aka higher pricing), don’t wait too long before pulling that purchase trigger or you might lose it.
3. Tap into emotional branding
Feeling an emotional attachment to a brand can motivate customers to purchase. A recent survey showed that 48% of millennials are more likely to buy from a brand if they know the people behind it.
When you’re starting a small business, use your entrepreneurial story to give your brand an edge, meaning, and purpose. Include an About Us or Our Story page on your website to share your passion for your business, the story of how you started, and the people behind your business.
4. Focus your brand by choosing a business niche
Sometimes when entrepreneurs are looking for businesses to start, they try to be all things to all people, which can lead to branding and execution problems down the road. The more narrowly you can define your niche, the more specific and memorable your business’s brand will be.
Dig into your market research to find the best niche. You may want to concentrate on customers in a specific geographic region, a particular age group, or hyper-focus on a specific problem that needs to be solved. Or, in your research, you might discover a niche you had not even considered.
If you need some inspiration, look at your competitors’ target market and choose a market they’ve failed to serve.
5. Brand your small business on social media
Social media is so important to a growing small business, that it’s difficult to digest down how much it will influence your brand.
Here are some core elements to remember when building your brand on social media:
- Maintain a consistent brand message across all your social media platforms.
- Try and establish social media URLs (or names) that are uniform across networks.
- Focus on the social media channels that your customers use. Not all age groups, genders, or industries do well across all networks, so it’s important to know where your customers live online.
- Seek out social media influencers to help spread the word. An influencer is someone on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry, has access to a large audience, and has extensive persuasive reach. Search hashtags and keywords relevant to your business or industry to find influencers; use a service like Buzzsumo to quantify social influence.
- Acknowledge and reward customers who act as brand advocates, and reach out to influencers in your industry to let them know about your brand.
6. Use the power of color psychology
Choose the right color scheme to use in all your branding materials. Consider the following items when selecting colors for your brand:
- Colors bring forth emotions when viewed, so select colors that align with the psychology of your brand.
- Bright, vibrant colors can cause headaches. Use these shades sparingly and combine them with neutrals.
- High-contrast colors are easy to see from a distance, so use them in your store signage, outdoor advertising, and presentations to large groups.
- If you’re not sure what color combinations work well together, look at color schemes used by other businesses. Search online for websites you like and note what colors get your attention.
- Hire a professional designer who will take time to understand your brand, its values, and your offering before they create a logo or color scheme.
7. Put your product in the perfect packaging
If you start an online business, your packaging needs to stand out online, whether on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you are packaging a product for sale in brick-and-mortar retail stores, it needs to attract attention on a shelf full of competitors. Make it appealing to pick up and touch.
Get ideas by looking at your competitors’ packaging and assessing what you like and don’t like about it. The more competitors you have, the more distinctive your brand must be.
8. Know the difference between B2B and B2C
While B2B purchases are motivated mostly by facts, statistics, and numbers, B2C purchases are motivated primarily by emotion.
For B2B buyers, the emotional factor is a fear of making a poor decision. You’ll need to sell your expertise and experience to overcome this fear. Because B2B buyers are typically driven by the need to solve a problem or do something better, try presenting your product or service as a problem solver.
B2C customers may also be driven by need, but just as often, they’re motivated by wants or impulses. To craft effective B2C branding, learn what motivates your target customer, such as the desire to appear younger, more successful, have more fun, save time or save money, and incorporate that motivation into your brand message.
9. Use employees to convey your brand message
From their words and their appearance to their actions, employees embody your brand to your customers. Educate employees about your brand and set standards for how you expect them to convey it. You may have them follow specific procedures on the job, use certain words when talking to customers, or even dress a certain way, such as wearing a uniform or a business suit.
10. Protect your brand
Once you’ve created your small business brand, do everything you can to protect it (including incorporating your business). And don’t forget a registered trademark is the only way to truly protect your brand name, your logo, and your business’s slogan across all states. You can search for existing trademarks and you can get acquainted with the trademark process at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. This website site guides you through all the details of applying for trademark protection. Once you have your trademark and are using it, make sure to maintain and renew it as necessary.
Our company’s brand has evolved over time. From changes to our colors to full website redesigns, we’ve tried to make sure our brand has matured alongside our company’s growth. Know that your small business brand will evolve with you too.