Whether you’re an established entrepreneur or just starting out, as a small business owner, you probably “wear many hats.” You have to provide your service or product and promote and market your business.
That’s easier said than done. You just want to do what you love — that’s why you started your business in the first place! But you still have to do all sorts of tasks in order to reach customers, build relationships, and sell your company.
To get there, you need to build a cohesive brand identity.
Think about a product you use every day. Does that product’s name, logo, or slogan instantly come to mind? That’s all part of brand identity. Your brand is what draws your customers to you.
What is a brand?
You probably already know what a brand is, even if you can’t define it. For example, everyone associates the silver apple logo with the Apple Company and their products, like the iPad. The same goes for McDonald’s and their golden arches. Or Coca-Cola and their signature bottle.
Your brand is a name, a logo, a tagline, or all of the above. Your brand is a promise — a promise to fulfill a customer’s need. It must hold true to your company’s values. If you want your customers to remember you when they think of a product, you’ll need a strong brand.
What is brand identity?
According to the Aaker Model, brand identity is “the unique set of brand associations that represent what the brand stands for and promises to customers.” Your brand’s identity is just as important as the product or service you sell.
Why? Just having a great product or service isn’t enough. You need to define what your brand stands for and deliver on that promise. If your business lacks a brand identity, you’ll have trouble relating to customers and marketing yourself.
How to create a brand identity
First, establish guidelines around your company brand. A brand can include:
- Company Name
- Company colors
- Special fonts
- Pictures or symbols
Creating a powerful brand identity helps you develop definitive relationships with your customers. By understanding the power of a brand, you’ll reach your customer’s thoughts without them even realizing it.
Brand power is equal to consumer perception. Visual perception can sometimes be stronger than reality. Meaning, what a consumer thinks and feels about your company can be more powerful than anything your company has to offer. The perception of your brand can make or break your business.
Great brand identity will do the following:
- Make your business recognizable. When you hear Disney, you may think if Mickey Mouse, Disney Family Movies, or Disney theme parks. Make your brand easily recognized by your consumers.
- Differentiate you from your competitors. You’ll want your small business brand to stand out amongst your competition, not be similar to others in your market.
- Help customers remember you. People thrive on visual cues to help them understand the world around them. If they see a visual when hearing your brand, they’ll remember you.
- Build relationships with your customers and community. This strengthens your brand perception.
Guidelines for developing a brand
Developing your brand is easy when you follow these guidelines.
- Know your business goals. Your brand identity should work toward meeting those goals.
- Understand your customers. This requires some consumer research on your part. Find your customers’ needs and understand how your product or service fulfills those needs. Knowing your business and your customer helps you define your brand.
- Outline the values that will represent your brand and deliver on those values.
- Decide on your brand’s personality. Just like you, your brand’s persona will take on a life of its own and become part of your brand perception. Using a consistent tone, voice, and style all adds to your brand identity. It sends a clear and consistent message to your customers.
- Develop messages that connect with your customers and build long-term relationships with them. Remember, your brand is a promise to your customers.
- Make it unique and be creative. Your brand should stand out from your competition. Do not copy from other brands; stay authentic to your own.
As a small business, you can implement simple branding techniques to make your company stand out. Start with a unique logo, name, and tagline that are easy to remember and associate with your business. These will help establish your brand with your customers.