WHY DO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS NEED A CONSISTENT BRAND IDENTITY?

As a busy small business owner you might think words like brand and brand identity are the domain of the heavy hitters:  giants like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Skype. You might assume that branding costs a lot of money and who cares how you come across; you’ve got a good product, right? Or maybe your focus is services and you think branding doesn’t apply.

So you’ve paid it little attention, throwing a little bit of money at it initially. Hiring someone to design your logo and then using untrained in-house resources to modify it over time. What results is a hodge-podge.

When people see your brand, they are confused. There is a dissonance in how you present yourself – like a guy at a party with a polka dot bow tie, leather chaps and takkies. They don’t know what the heck is going on and make for the door as quick as they can. The world is already chaotic and the world of marketing even more so. If you want your consumer to join your party, you’ve got to build a consistent brand identity. Right from the get go.

And if you are already established with a brand identity that needs an extreme makeover, then there’s no better time than the present.

YOUR BRAND IS YOUR REPUTATION

There are a lot of brand definitions and descriptions floating about the internet; it gets confusing. You may think that brand means logo or is something fluffier and hard to define.

Try substituting the word “reputation” for brand. That might get your attention. You may not have cared too much about your brand, but it’s certain you care about your reputation.

Simply put, your brand is the impression you make on your customer and certainly first impressions are very important. In today’s marketplace you don’t get much of a second chance if you blow that first “hello”.  It may be that many small businesses make a good impression most of the time without ever thinking about their brand. But imagine how much more successful you would be if you left your customer with a good impression consistently.

brand identity
our own brand identity

YOUR BRAND IS YOUR VOICE

So maybe you have hooked your customer with an eye-catching logo and some snazzy design. They like what they see, now what?  How do you talk to your customer?  Is your voice consistent across platforms – online, social media, print?  Are you yelling one minute, then whispering softly the next? If you haven’t established a unified brand identity you can certainly appear unsure of who you are, even schizophrenic.  What kind of impression does that make and how long will people stay to listen before clicking off to the competition?

WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?

You can’t determine the impression you want to make without determining who you are trying to impress.  In marketing terms, this is your target market.  What do know about them and why do they purchase goods or services from the market you are operating in? What needs does that market meet for them? For example, are they on the search for time savings measures, some expertise, a trust-worthy supply source or something else? You should be able to make a list of all the reasons why someone might choose to buy your product or service by consulting customers, colleagues and friends. You should know who your target market is: age, gender, spending habits, where to find them.

WHAT IS THE STORY YOU ARE TELLING?

Now that you’ve determined who you are talking to it’s time to figure out the story you are telling. Or in other words, what are you promising your customer. Your brand tells them what they can expect from your products and services; how what you offer is different from your competitors. It stems from who you are, who you want to be and how people perceive you.

Are you the voice of experience in your industry or an upstart maverick? Is your offer high-quality, high cost? Or high-value, low cost? You can’t talk out of both sides of your mouth and promise different things at the same time. Who you are should be established to a certain extent on whom your target market wants and needs you to be. Know what story you are telling.

WHERE TO START?

Well now that you know a little more about branding and why it’s important to convey a good impression with a clear and consistent brand identity you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by where to start.  How do you start making the necessary steps to either develop a strong brand or bring your mixed up advertising into alignment? While it is recommended that you bring a branding specialist on board, here are 5 things small business owners need to consider when developing their brand identity.

  1. Identify and get to know your target market
  2. Develop your unique selling proposition (USP) – what sets you apart from your competition?
  3. Determine your story
  4. Choose a tone of voice and maintain it
  5. Determine a constant image across platforms

#5 deserves a little more attention. In order to create and maintain a unified brand, you need to take control of font, spacing, colour, line height etc. This applies across all platforms including social media, website and printed material such as brochures and sell sheets. You’ll want to determine a specific colour palette so that your brand is easily recognizable and regular across platforms.

Stay tuned. Next we will be addressing what’s at the heart of every strong brand: Your logo.

Call Advees today, one of our associates will be ready to discuss how your business can benefit from creating a unified brand identity.