Branding is critical when it comes to any business. As soon as you think of the department store Target, you immediately have a visual of the color red and the bullseye logo along with quality at a discounted price. When you think of the car marker Ford, you immediately have a visual of the color blue and the oval Ford logo along with American made automobiles. Let’s bust these brands a little just to prove a point — many times I find the same items Target offers at a lower price at other stores and did you know that while Ford builds some vehicles here in the US, they have plants located on nearly every corner of the globe?
These companies have built brands that give us the perception of what they’re trying to push, even when it may not be true. Through graphics, websites, logos, icons, media coverage, commercials, PR, and other marketing, large companies can deliver virtually any message to the public that they want, even if it isn’t 100% in line with reality.
For small businesses, we don’t have unlimited budgets like some of these large companies, so it’s often very difficult to build a brand. However we have five simple and affordable tips that your small business can use to build a unified brand and get the most out of your marketing money:
Have A Company Image: It amazes me how many companies don’t have a clear image. Your website, business cards, email signature, letterhead, and anything related to your company should use a set color scheme, set style, set layout, and set logo. Make sure you’re business is branded properly across all these means to help show you’re professional but more importantly help brand everyone you interact with.
Manage Your Reputation: Large companies spend millions managing their company image. From executive customer care to PR companies to TV ads to SEO, they do their part in making sure that any negative attention the company gets is properly handled. On a smaller scale, most people turn to Google when they are looking for a small business, so do a search and make sure good things are coming up. If they aren’t, you might want to talk to us further about SEO reputation management to try and improve your online image.
Become A Niche Authority: To build a quality brand, you need to become an authority in your niche. This can be accomplished by receiving endorsements from local chambers, guest posting on other niche websites, maintaining a company blog on a regular basis, and proving that you are the “go to” company in your niche.
Use Social Media: I’m not just talking about setting up a Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter account. I’m talking about actually using social media for your business. Engage with your customers and followers and you’ll notice a steady following start to come in on social media. Each time someone else follows you on sites like Facebook, for example, it posts to their wall exposing your company to all their friends. Multiply this by several hundred and you have an excellent branding opportunity for your business.
Think Outside The Box: Do things that your competitors aren’t doing to grow your brand. This can be things like sponsoring a local charity, starting your own “clean the community” day, sponsoring a local baseball team, or virtually anything to get your name out in a positive way. Depending on your niche there are thousands of ways to get your name out there and build your brand.
While not all attention is good attention, if you follow these five simple tips you’ll be well on your way to building a brand for your small business and becoming an authority in your niche. Once you accomplish that you’ll notice more and more customers coming in the door and you’ll begin to exponentially grow your business!