There are so many things you have to consider when starting your own business.
What should your business name be?
How should you launch your product or services?
How should you structure your pricing?
With so many questions to tackle, it’s not surprising that some aspects are put on the back burner. Some small business owners bypass one of the biggest opportunities to make their business stand out by skipping the process of building a brand.
All too often I come across business owners with three different versions of their logo on their website and 27 different taglines. It’s confusing to customers because it lacks consistency.
After all, your small business’s branding is the first impression your business makes with your potential customers. Taking time early on in your business to build a strong brand will make you stand out in some really important ways.
1. A good small business brand legitimizes your small business
We have all had it happen. You’re talking to someone about their company and want to learn more. You ask them for a business card, but they don’t have one.
Instead, they give you their email. It’s some variation of their own name, or worse, a cutesy nickname with numbers after it at gmail.com—email@example.com, for example.
Suddenly, the person you thought was a savvy networker doesn’t seem like such a pro after all. Call it biased, but the way people look and present themselves in business matters to us.
That means you should buy the domain name—yourcompany.com
Set up the official email address—firstname.lastname@example.org
Invest in a real website that doesn’t look like your nephew built it back in 2014 (i.e., consistent colors, good use of white space, good navigation, mobile-friendly, well-written, appropriate fonts).
Branding is key to customers seeing your business as legitimate, not a half baked side hustle. If you want people to treat you like a professional, you’re going to have to look like one.
2. Defining your brand will help you attract your ideal clients
If there is one critical marketing teaching I could bestow, it would be the importance of first identifying, and then attracting your ideal audience—your target market.
A good small business brand is one of the most critical elements needed to attract the people you want to work with while naturally not attracting the folks you don’t. By designing your branding around your ideal customer, you will stand out to the exact folks you aim to attract.
Defining your brand is one of the simplest ways to ensure that you’re not only attracting customers you want but also amplifying high-quality referrals because your happy customers will talk about you. Not sure how to start? Create a buyer or user persona.
A buyer persona is a fictitious character that has some specific qualities in common with who you think your ideal customer is. For instance, instead of building a brand that appeals to women age 24 to 48 in the southwest United States, you’re building a brand for Liz Applewood, age 32, a manager at a retail clothing store in Albuquerque.
Focusing on a specific target persona is going to help you build a brand that resonates with potential customers that resemble your target audience.
3. It will differentiate you from the competition
The majority of small businesses face some sort of competition or at least comparison to other companies in their market. I don’t believe in wasting energy on a competitor’s business, because that is energy should be focused on growing your own.
However, I do believe in being memorable.
Building your brand so your business stands out from the crowd will make an impression on potential customers. It also should grab the attention of anyone shopping based on comparison to ensure they give you a second look. Just make sure to back up your branding with great service, and you might just end up with a customer for life.
4. It will help you recruit top talent
Your branding should always be more than just your visual identity, or your colors and logo design. Your brand should truly encapsulate your company’s personality—the vibe and culture.
Make sure your brand represents not just what your company “looks” like but also what it feels like. After all, 88 percent of potential candidates believe that a company’s culture is a critical factor in determining if it is a good place to work.
If you aim to grow your company and hire other people, you will be able to attract top talent that resonates with your brand if it truly reflects what your company stands for, both internally and externally in the world.
5. It shares your values, mission, and story with the world
This is truly the most important reason a good small business brand should be a priority.
All small businesses are started by people—real people like you—many of whom are inspired by a sense of purpose. In my world of marketing, we like to call this reason our “why.” You can encapsulate it in your mission statement. This is the most important message you can share with the world to attract the right customers—those who believe in the mission of your company.
Customers want to know the stories behind the businesses they buy from. They want to feel a personal connection to that company and believe in the values behind it. Branding is the most powerful way for a business owner to weave the “why” of their story into how the world sees the company in order to resonate and grow relationships with their ideal customers.
There is a reason why some brands stay with us for life whereas others aren’t memorable at all. Businesses that take time to build strong branding that represents their story, values, and culture as a company are much more likely to be remembered.
Invest your time and energy upfront to establish your business branding, and the benefits will pay off. Perfecting your business story will bring you your ideal customers that are eager to be a part of your small business success story for years to come.