If there’s one thing small business owners don’t focus enough on, it’s branding. I’m not sure if that’s because they don’t understand it or don’t have the tools to create an effective branding strategy. In her book, Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget, Maria Ross provides those tools so that you have a solid understanding of what branding is, and start asking yourself the right questions to build your own branding strategy.

What is Brand?

In the book, Ross says: “Brand is the core experience, the story, and the essence of your business. It’s your company’s reputation, personality, and reason for being–all rolled into one package.”

She goes on to say that brand is the promise you make to customers. It’s what you say you’ll provide and the experience they’ll get with your company. She says you’ve got a brand, whether you plan it or not, so it’s to your advantage to make sure the brand messaging that reaches your customers is consistent.

Where Customers Experience Your Brand

We know things like your company logo and marketing material relate to branding, but it’s more than that. Your store signage, website, and social media sites also portray your brand, as do your press releases, presentations, and customer service.

Creating Your Own Strategy

Ross offers 10 questions you can ask yourself about your own brand that will help you determine what direction your branding should go. She provides guidance to help you, as these can be hard questions to answer. She also provides case studies of other small businesses who have found their own branding strategy.

But she goes beyond just helping you set up your strategy: she also tells you what to do with it. If you’re just starting a business, she provides you with Brand Building Blocks:

  • Company name
  • Visual identity system: logo, colors, and style guide
  • Key Messages Document (mission, vision, tagline, company descriptors, brand positioning statement, exec bios and press release boilerplate

Ross provides direction for setting up each of these. If you haven’t given much thought to the branding of your company, pick up a copy of Branding Basics.