Branding your small business should be an ongoing effort. Branding will help your stand out from your competition and help you gain brand loyalists, so it’s important to get it right. Here are a few do’s and don’ts of company branding to make sure you nail it.

Small business branding do’s

Small business branding do’s

  1. Create a brand based on who you really are – one of the biggest mistakes that small companies can make when it comes to branding is trying to be like everyone else. It’s important that your brand is unique to your company and who you really are. Consider your company culture when creating or recreating your brand. You’ll come across as much more sincere and genuine if you create a brand based on who you really are, not what you think your customers want you to be.
  2. Produce a unique value proposition – playing the “me too” game is a losing proposition. To really create a brand that resonates, you need to understand what your unique value proposition, or UVP, is. Why should customers do business with you? What makes you so different?  Once you define your UVP, you’ll be in a better position to craft a company brand that is solid.
  3. Establish a tagline that defines what your business does – some of the greatest taglines out there can stand on their own without ever saying the company name. Why? Because they evoke an emotion and define what the company truly is or what it can deliver. This is especially true if you company name doesn’t really illustrate what you do. A great example:  Nike’s “Just Do It”. The name Nike doesn’t say who they are, but their tagline inspires. Need inspiration to come up with a tagline?  Check out these all-time best brand taglines to help inspire you.
  4. Build a brand based on your target audience – hopefully you know your target audience because you started with a marketing strategy but if not, it’s critical to make sure your brand aligns with the audience you’re trying to reach. Understanding the wants, needs, and challenges of your target audience will help you build a brand that aligns with solutions they’re seeking.
  5. Find your marketing voice – be sure to define who your company really is and keep your marketing voice consistent. A brand voice isn’t about the creation of a non-human voice. It’s about being consistent with the voice you are creating – positioning yourself as an easily identified and authoritative source for your area of expertise. Not sure what your “voice” is? Here’s how to find your brand’s voice.
  6. Be consistent with your brand – once you establish a brand, it’s critical to be consistent. Changing up your messaging, marketing voice, or tagline will greatly dilute your brand so take your time and get it right!

Small business branding don’ts

Small business branding don’ts

  1. Don’t mimic your competitors – the idea behind a company brand is to help you stand out from the pack. If you copy your competitors branding, you’re only going to create confusion and do nothing to help your brand stand out. Sure, take a few tips from their playbook if they’re nailing a few things, but don’t mimic what they’re doing. The idea is to stand out and be different.
  2. Don’t create a UVP you can’t support or deliver on – a UVP is only effective if it’s true. If you hang your hat on a value statement that your company can’t consistently support, you’re negatively impacting your brand. Take time t really figure out what makes you unique and different. Don’t wing your UVP; it can blow up in your face and harm your brand significantly.
  3. Don’t leave company branding to one person – company branding involves the entire company: culture, UVP, voice…. Leaving the responsibility of creating a company brand to one person will result in a brand based on that person’s perception and ideas only. You want your entire company to be involved in the process to really showcase who you really are. Are you a one-person company? Solicit the insights and opinions of outsiders to help you understand how others see your brand.
  4. Don’t try to be everything to everybody – trying to be everything to everybody simply doesn’t work, especially when it comes to a company brand. This goes back to your UVP. Who is your company really? What does it truly excel in? Keep those attributes in mind when creating your brand; otherwise you’ll just dilute your company brand by being a little bit of everything to everybody.
  5. Don’t ignore industry trends – assuming that what worked a year ago or ten years ago is still relevant today can be a death sentence to your company. Your company needs to constant grow and change with the times, and that includes branding. McDonald’s is a great example of a company that keeps changing with the times. While their overall brand is true, they’ve tweaked their branding as times changed. By identifying food-specific trends, McDonald’s rebranded itself as a fast food chain for new, health-conscious consumers who still value convenience. If they did it, so should you. Don’t ignore industry trends.
  6. Don’t stop revisiting and fine-tuning your brand – like we mentioned above, what worked last year may not work tomorrow, so consistently reviewing your brand to make sure that it still aligns not only with industry trends, but what your company delivers, what makes you unique, and what your customers are looking for is key to a successful small company brand.

A strong brand generates leads and new customers. It needs to be constantly monitored, measured, maintained, nurtured, improved and leveraged to provide customer value with the intention of earning lifetime loyalty. Following these do’s and don’ts of company branding will ensure your efforts are successful.

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Patty Hughes

Patty Hughes is President of Strategic Marketing Services and has over 20 years of experience in marketing and sales strategy.Having been fortunate enough to develop exceptional business relationships with both customers and colleagues throughout the years, she has been honored to help small businesses grow and has enjoyed being a part of their successes by partnering with them to establish a well-developed marketing strategy and assist in managing their ongoing marketing needs.
Patty Hughes
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