4 of the Best Ways to Brand Your Small Business

Branding is essential to building, promoting, and sustaining a company’s image. From logos to tag lines, companies strive to make themselves instantly recognizable.

When you see mouse ears you immediately think Disney. Hear the “I’m lovin’ it” jingle, you know it’s McDonald’s. That’s how branding works. It ingrains a company into your psyche.

While big companies may have bigger budgets to use on branding, that shouldn’t hinder a small business’ branding efforts. Small businesses can learn a thing or two from the big dogs. Build a recognizable brand for your small business by focusing on these four key branding areas.

1. Tell Your Story

It doesn’t take a big budget to share your story. On your company website, include a brief narrative describing the origins of your company. You’ll build a rapport with potential customers while showcasing what makes your company unique.

For example, TOMS – founded by Blake Mycoskie – is a shoe company that started off small and grew into a global powerhouse. On TOMS’ website, customers can read TOMS’ story and learn how the company developed from a simple idea: for every pair of shoes purchased, the company would donate a new pair of shoes to a child in need.

Once you craft your story, include a mission statement — one sentence that succinctly sums up what your company stands for.

One For One
Source: TOMS

TOMS’ powerful mission statement is sure to resonate with its customers. When someone slips on a pair of TOMS, they’re not only wearing a pair of comfortable, stylish shoes, they’re also playing a role in TOMS’ mission of giving back. Pretty cool, huh?

Like TOMS, be sure to detail the benefits of your products or services. You’re selling your company to the customer, so make sure you tell them why you’re great. And don’t forget to share customer feedback, too.

2. Cultivate Your Brand’s Image

How would you define your brand? Is it hip, conservative, or cutting edge? Defining a brand’s image is crucial; it separates a small business from its competitors. Cultivate that image by creating a highly recognizable logo and developing a slogan.

Create a Logo. Your logo is the foundation of your brand,so it’s important to get it right from the get-go. When designing your logo, include the name of your brand and make sure it’s reflective of the brand’s personality, while still being different from the competition.

Here, TOMS’ logo maintains the company’s theme of simplicity and global activism – a flag with its name on a muted color palette. It even sells its logo as actual flags for $5.

TOMS Flag Logo

Try out different colors and fonts – but keep in line with your company’s aesthetic. You wouldn’t create a hot pink logo for Coke, when Coke is synonymous with red and white.

Once you’ve finalized a logo – your website, packaging, and promotional materials should all integrate your logo, too.

Develop a Slogan. Slogans (or taglines) are an easy way for customers to remember your product. TOMS’ – One for One – is short and sweet, and quite clever. Slogans should be memorable and set the brand apart from the competition.

Think about it. When you see State Farm, you probably immediately think “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” (And you probably sing the jingle in your head, too.)

State Farm Slogan

3. Be Consistent

Make sure you have defined brand guidelines in place, such as an in-house visual style/branding guide. These guidelines will ensure consistency for digital, print, and social media. This is extremely helpful in making sure your staff produces consistent, quality branding materials.

A typical branding guide includes standard fonts, colors, patterns, layouts, sizes, and more style standards. Facebook is a prime example of branding consistency with its font and color palette. While they have a couple different versions of their logo, each uses the same font and color. This keeps it recognizable and consistent.

Facebook Logo Example

Be sure to also include your brand’s voice. When you have more than one copywriter, everyone needs to know which words and phrases are appropriate, and which ones aren’t.

We recommend making the guide a “living document.” It should be able to evolve with the company.

4. Evolve the Right Way

As your business grows, you may get the itch to evolve your branding. And that’s perfectly fine, In fact, evolution can be good, so long as you go about it the right way (ahem new Coke).

Should you decide to tweak your logo or try out a new tagline, it’s imperative to do market research beforehand. Would your target demographic be open to change? How does your change fit in with the current marketplace? Weigh the positives against the negatives. And be prepared to explain why you made the change.

For example, Google recently redesigned its logo, opting for a modern, sans-serif look (plus a tilted ‘e’) that’s only 305 bytes! While it wasn’t the first time Google changed its look, it still invoked a reaction from everyone. Google’s reasoning for the change was solid: it’s new look is designed to look good on any screen. And you can’t argue with that: it does look good.

New Google Logo

Should you decide to change your logo or tagline, make sure the branding for everything is updated across the board (e.g. social media, website, digital, and print materials). And be prepared to crack down against those who use outdated branding.

Conclusion

Just because small businesses don’t have big branding budgets, doesn’t mean they’re at a disadvantage. Emulate what big businesses do, albeit on a smaller scale. Tell your story, cultivate your brand image, be consistent, and evolve the smart way. And soon you may find your company growing into a big business, too.