Published on July 16th, 2013 | by Sophie S.0
Branding For Beginners – What Small Businesses Need To Know
Large companies often spend a lot of money creating, promoting and protecting their brand. Indeed for some companies the brand is arguably at least as important as the product they sell. Fortunately the basics of branding can be used by even the smallest of businesses. Here’s what you need to know.
Branding Is About Promoting Instant Recognition
The basic idea of branding is a very ancient one. It’s hard, perhaps impossible, to say when it first started but the modern idea of brand recognition is essentially the same principle as knights carrying coats of arms in battle. People needed to be sure that they were fighting enemies rather than friends. Fundamentally a brand is simply a way to identify a product or service as being connected with your company. It is not, in itself, a sales tool, although it may become one if it becomes associated with high quality. With that in mind, the keys to branding are simplicity, visibility and consistency.
Think of any major company. Take a look at their logo. You may not even need to look physically; it may be so easy to remember. Successful logos are simple because simple logos are easy to reproduce and easy to remember. Likewise slogans need to be simple to be catchy, think how many slogans rhyme or use creative language like alliteration. Others make bold statements, showing confidence in their products.
Think about what makes your product or service special, what’s your unique selling point? Use this as your basis for creating a basic logo and slogan for your business. It’s fine if you’re artistically challenged, because you’re aiming for simplicity, not photo-realistic detail.
The whole point of spending time on a logo and a slogan is so that every time people see them, if only for a millisecond in passing, they should be reminded of your business. The basic idea is that constant repetition will make them aware of you, while consistent quality will encourage people to use you. With that in mind, you need to get your brand out there and you need to do it without annoying people.
While the traditional technique of leaflet dropping still has a lot of life in it, it has to be done with care. In particular, you need to respect “No junk mail” signs and similar, even though they currently have no force in law and are therefore widely ignored by leafleting companies. There are plenty of other options at varying budgets, from leaving notices in local shops to sponsoring local events.
If you’ve stocked up on ultra-modern stainless steel signs for your business premises, then you need to have an ultra-modern slick website, otherwise you are sending out conflicting messages to your potential customers.
On a more basic level, even if your IT skills are minimal, take the time to set up an e-mail address linked to your business website rather than using a web-based e-mail provider. Leaving aside the fact that, technically speaking, most of these e-mails are supposed to be for personal use only, it looks massively more professional and helps to re-enforce your brand.
About the author:
The author learned about branding out of necessity and is eager to promote the idea that small businesses could learn a lot from their larger counterparts without having to copy everything they do. She’s worked in businesses of all sizes and generally prefers the smaller ones, although she did spend 10 happy years working for Visa.