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Do small businesses need branding?

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By: Karen Selby, Project Leader, Brand & Visual Identity Development, Forty49 Ltd

If you’re a small business, you might feel that branding is something that bigger companies do. The temptation is to focus on marketing tactics that are short term and for immediate results. But if I said that branding for small businesses is not just about designing a logo, but is about creating your reputation, you might feel differently.

For small and new businesses, it’s important to attract and then retain customers, and that’s where branding comes in. The initial impression we have with a brand tell us that this company/widget/service is right for me. Some of the thoughts we don’t even know we have when we first meet a brand can form a lasting impression.

Karen Selby

‘I like the way they look. I like how they interact/transact with me; I love that they make me feel so comfortable, I like their style, I can trust them, I’ve seen them before somewhere, my brother/sister/friend knows them, they look professional.’

We all have a brand but are you in control?

We conduct our business and interact with customers in a certain way and instinctively form an impression, but if you take a little more control, you’ll gain more value.

Establishing your brand gives you a very clear purpose and helps you define what makes you different, what you stand for. It gives you a competitive positioning and ensures that you check to see if your business is in line with that positioning.

Once you have established that, communicate to prospects and customers clearly and consistently wherever they might come into contact with you. It could be through the visual side of your branding, your place of work, your colleagues, your literature, and advertising, online, LinkedIn, your blog, over the counter or on the phone depending on what type of business you run.

What’s the value?

In terms of ROI, branding for small businesses does not have to be expensive; it all depends on how much you put into it. The real cost of establishing and nurturing a brand is passion, time and thought, and as the cornerstone of your marketing it will give a value that far outweighs any cost in the long run and make a difference to your bottom line. It gives you:

ORIGINALITY – Brand establishes what you stand for and why you are the best choice in a saturated or parity market.

YOU CAN CHARGE WHAT YOU’RE WORTH – It’s hard getting your first customers but when you have established a solid image that is recognisable and gives the right impression, you can charge accordingly.

TRUST & LOYALTY – when we don’t know a small business, we look for information or a positive experience to guide our decision. A branded, repeatable experience keeps customers returning, and internally it gives suppliers and staff that something to believe in and engenders loyalty.

CONSISTENCY – A similar experience with your brand, whether through social media, in a brochure or how it looks at your premises confirms your brand values and engenders further trust in you. For the business owner it is the reference by which you can measure how your brand is seen in each situation.

MEMORABLE – brands can visually or literally engender powerful emotion, making them more memorable. People don’t always remember a name, but they’ll always remember how they felt.

IT’S SHARED – Trusted, consistent brands are more likely to be shared via word-of-mouth, social media or a link on an email.

VALUE GROWS – the more your brand awareness grows, the more your customer base will grow as will your income. But brands need a little TLC every now and again to keep the alignment between what you communicate and what your business objectives are.

If you are thinking about branding your business or need help to take more control over your branding let us know. www.forty49.co.uk or call 01283 533196

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