There’s no business too small to benefit from branding. Whether you’re a tech startup just getting off the ground or a well-loved neighborhood bakery that’s been around for years, branding is your ticket to making a lasting impression.
Running a small business isn’t easy. We know — because we’ve been there. Even when everything is moving smoothly, standing out from the noise can feel impossible. Enter branding. To us, it’s not a buzzword. It’s the guiding force that helps your brand step into the spotlight. But what exactly is small business branding?
At its core, small business branding is the art and science of creating a unique identity for your business. It’s the strategic process of shaping how your audience perceives you, distinguishing yourself from competitors and establishing a connection that goes beyond the transaction.
Why Is Small Business Branding Important?
Small business branding is more than just the colors and logos you should use. While those are certainly an essential part of the puzzle, a brand guide is, first and foremost, a strategy. It’s a strategy to help you build relationships with your audience and increase ROI. After all, businesses with a consistent brand could increase revenue by 10-20%.
Here are just a few of the ways small business branding can pay off:
- Standing Out in a Crowd: Small business branding helps you stand out from competitors by creating a distinct identity that sets you apart.
- Building Trust and Credibility: A well-crafted brand fosters trust. Customers are more likely to choose a business with a polished and consistent brand image.
- Creating a Memorable Impression: First impressions matter. Effective branding ensures your business is remembered long after the initial interaction.
- Building Emotional Connections: Brands with personality and a compelling story connect on an emotional level, fostering stronger relationships with customers.
- Increasing Recognition: Consistent branding across various channels boosts recognition, making it easier for customers to recall and choose your business.
- Attracting the Right Audience: Targeted branding helps attract the audience that aligns with your values and is more likely to become loyal customers.
- Navigating Brand Growth: A consistent brand helps maintain cohesion and recognition across new markets and customer segments as your small business expands.
- Enhancing Perception: A polished brand image enhances the perceived professionalism of your business, instilling confidence in potential customers.
See a brand guide in action:
Crowne Partners approached us looking for a new direction with their branding and website design. They have high standards for the properties they develop and strive to maintain luxurious experiences in their communities — and their new branding needed to represent that.
What Does a Small Business Brand Include?
Let’s think about Nike for a minute. They’re one of the most recognizable brands in the world. But how’d they get there?
Yes, the iconic swoosh is unmistakable — but their brand goes deeper than that. It includes their impactful slogan, “Just Do It.” It includes strategic athlete endorsements. Nike isn’t just selling products; it’s selling a lifestyle and a mindset. And the most important part? Their branding is consistent across all channels, creating a seamless and recognizable identity. And every part of their branding shows their commitment to quality products that have become the standard for both athletes and fashion enthusiasts.
Nike skillfully integrates all these different elements to create an iconic brand. And your small business branding has the same potential! It’s all about strategically blending these components to build a memorable and cohesive identity.
Your journey with small business branding doesn’t start with visuals or design elements — but with the strategic foundation known as a brand identity. A brand identity includes the fundamental elements that define who you are, what you stand for and how you connect with your audience. It’s the compass that guides every other decision you make about your small business brand.
- Define Your Purpose: The first step is to define your purpose. Why does your business exist? What problems does it solve for your customers? Clarifying your mission provides a foundation for a compelling brand identity.
- Identify Your Audience: Understanding your target audience is crucial. Who are your ideal customers? What are their needs, preferences and pain points? Tailoring your brand to resonate with your audience enhances its effectiveness.
- Analyze Your Competition: Conduct a thorough competitive analysis to identify your position in the market. What do your competitors offer, and how can your brand stand out? This analysis lays the groundwork for a unique value proposition.
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for defining who you are, it’s time for the fun part: visuals!
Brand visuals are where the magic happens — transforming your brand’s identity from a concept into a vibrant, memorable experience. Think of it like giving your brand a face, a style and a feel that speaks volumes without saying a word.
- Logo: A logo should sum up the essence of your brand. It can ensure scalability and versatility, making your logo effective across various platforms and applications.
- Colors, Fonts and Iconography: Consistent use of colors, fonts and iconography reflects your brand’s personality, contributes to brand recognition and establishes a visual language unique to your business.
- Photography: Invest in high-quality, professional photography that aligns with your brand’s personality. Visuals play a significant role in conveying your message, making it essential to choose images that resonate with your audience.
- Videography: Leverage the power of videography to tell your brand story dynamically. From product showcases to behind-the-scenes glimpses, videos can engage your audience on a deeper level.
Like with Nike, your small business brand is deeper than just aesthetics. Brand language is the heartbeat of your communication strategy, defining how your brand speaks, resonates and connects with your audience. After all, it’s not just what you say but how you say it.
- Brand Voice: Define a consistent brand voice and tone to use across all channels. Is your brand serious, humorous or somewhere in the middle? Your brand voice should align with your values, show your brand personality and appeal to your audience.
- Messaging Guide: A messaging guide is your rulebook for tone, grammar, spelling, dates and more. This guide ensures a unified and coherent brand message across all channels.
You don’t just want your audience to hear your story. You want them to understand and embrace it. We’re wired to connect through stories — from the bedtime stories of our childhood to the narratives in our favorite movies, books and games. It’s an ingrained part of how we relate to the world.
This is where StoryBrand steps in as your storytelling guide. Instead of talking at your audience, StoryBrand helps you speak to them. This seven-part framework positions your audience at the center of your brand’s story. With this approach, your brand story becomes more than a monologue; it becomes a dialogue.
See a brand guide in action:
Carrie, our VP of Strategic Planning, approached the Infomedia team without a personal logo or brand and was unsure what direction she wanted to take. Starting with a brand identity, we developed a logo, colors, photography and copywriting that helped her build authority as a local-minded author.
How Do I Brand a Small Business?
It’s time to put everything you’ve learned into practice with a brand guide. A brand guide encompasses your brand’s very essence, offering guidelines and standards that ensure consistency.
From the colors defining your visual identity to the language communicating your message, the brand guide acts as a compass to point your business in the right direction. It’s the go-to resource that aligns everyone in your team, ensuring every interaction with your brand reflects its unique personality.
The first step is to gather all the essential elements of your brand in one place, like a Google Drive. You want all of your brand’s assets to be easily accessible.
Here are a few examples of what to include:
- Approved logos in multiple sizes, formats and colors
- Approved photography and guidelines for new photo shoots
- Font, colors and icons that represent your brand
- Slogans, taglines and other frequently-used messaging
- Templates for public-facing documents
Now that you have everything in one central location, it’s time to see if they align with the brand identity you created. Assess each item through the lens of your brand identity. Does it attract the right audience? Does it speak to that audience? Does it speak to your purpose? Does it set you apart from the competition?
This audit is crucial to transitioning to a consistent, unified brand for your small business.
With your assets secured and the audit completed, it’s time to build the cornerstone of your brand — the brand guide. This document is your brand’s rulebook, capturing who you are and how you want to be perceived. It outlines the dos and don’ts, providing clear instructions on visual elements, messaging and the overall tone that defines your brand.
Having all this information in one place only does good if you put it into practice. Apply your brand guide diligently and consistently across all platforms — from social media and your website to office signage and public-facing documents.
See a brand guide in action:
DSW Cutting’s old branding just wasn’t cutting it. During the years before their website redesign, DSW Cutting experienced a lot of growth and change. Most of their business now comes from being an OEM and manufacturing repetitive parts at high volumes. Infomedia delivered with a brand that spoke to that ideal customer.
We’re Here to Help
Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the whole process? Don’t worry — we’re here to help! Creating a brand guide for your small business is no small feat. Infomedia is ready to put our expertise to work for you! Get in touch, and let’s discuss how small business branding can be a part of your overall strategy for 2024. Together, we can transform your vision into a cohesive, impactful brand that resonates with your audience.