Let’s be frank: there’s no quick way to build a brand. Even if you’ve already navigated the initial hurdles that come with starting a small business, successfully marketing it creates another challenge.
A lot goes into creating a brand that has a lasting impression on potential customers. These days, it’s not enough to have a compelling offering; you need to strike the right chord with your audience to keep your brand living rent-free in their heads.
So how do you do that? It’s all about building a strong brand identity that will help you build a connection with customers and stand out from the crowd. A cohesive brand identity means you can have a big impact as a small business.
This article explores why strong identities are so crucial for small businesses today and the key steps to help you craft one.
What is Brand Identity?
Your brand identity is the personality and visual representation of your business in the eyes of consumers.
It includes visual branding elements that distinguish your brand from others, including your color palette and imagery. But it also incorporates brand voice and how you interact with audiences. In essence, it’s how your brand looks, feels, and presents itself.
Take Apple, for example. Their brand identity combines the simple and universal apple logo and a sleek, minimalist color palette that emphasizes clarity and simplicity.
When it comes to Apple’s products, there really is nothing else like them on the market. The sleek visual branding carries over into the minimalist product design with powerful results. Every product displays the iconic logo and the simplicity of the branding follows through to the easy-to-use interfaces and operating systems.
How to Create a Strong Brand Identity
You don’t need us to tell you that it’s increasingly difficult to stand out in today’s saturated landscape. Ensuring you have a strong brand identity is crucial, whether you’re a new startup looking to kickstart your business or an established company that wants to refresh its brand image.
Without an effective brand identity, how do you expect to be remembered? Why would people choose you over another brand?
Let’s look at the best starting points for creating an identity for your small business.
Define Your Business
Before you dive into designing your brand identity, take a moment to think about your business personality, goals, and target audience. Without this, it’ll be difficult to home in on what makes your business unique and, in turn, why people would choose you over competitors.
Start by focusing on these three elements:
- Creating a brand name and strapline
- Knowing what products you’re selling
- Identifying your target audience
Once you’ve sussed this, start thinking about the person behind the brand: you!
Why did you start the business? What impact do you want to have on people and the marketplace? If you’re struggling at this point, write your About page as this is a great way to talk about your brand story.
This stage is all about creating a strong foundation. If your core offering is wobbly or you don’t have strong brand values, you’ll likely become lost in the crowd.
Identify and Target Your Audience
Without knowing who you’re targeting, how do you expect to meet their needs?
Sure, you may think that your brand is unique because it’s yours. But that doesn’t mean others will feel the same way.
First, you should know who you’re selling your products or services to: are you B2B or B2C?
Start by finding out what specific challenges the businesses you’re targeting might face. Then tailor your brand to provide solutions that align with their needs.
For example, if you offer software solutions, emphasize how your product addresses the industry-specific pain points to make their lives easier.
You could even consider their work habits and preferences, such as whether they prefer accessing resources through a traditional desktop setup or a more mobile-friendly option like a remote desktop for iPad.
The goal here is not just to provide a service, but to understand the business’s needs to provide a personal and empathetic offering.
What are their interests? Pain points? Aspirations? Understanding their lifestyle will help you shape your brand to fit their needs.
If you’re selling fitness gear, tap into the desires of fitness enthusiasts. Then go deeper. What kind of fitness are they passionate about? Are they personal trainers or exercise newbies? The more specific you are when targeting your audience, the better your offering will be.
You might already have some data on your audience from a platform like Google Analytics. Or perhaps your sales team uses contact center technologies that record customer interactions. Either way, use this information to dig into your customers and ask relevant teams if they have additional insights that will help you learn more.
Choose and Secure Your Brand Name
There’s no need to be too clever at this stage. Simply choosing a business name that’s easy to spell, memorable, and aligns with your business’s personality and offering are the important elements.
For example, if you were creating a tea company, you’d want it to revolve around thematic elements like warmth, comfort, and relaxation.
Additionally, consider how your brand name and logo can be effectively incorporated onto custom boxes or packaging that will further enhance your brand’s recognition and customer experience
Once you’ve decided on your name, secure a branded web address from a trusted domain registration website. Doing this establishes your online presence and prevents others from using a similar name.
Nail Your Visual Identity
The design aspect of brand creation is always enjoyable, even if you’ve never picked up a pencil or opened Photoshop before.
You don’t need to have every design choice and visual element figured out at this stage. But it’s good to have some ideas to throw at the canvas.
Start with a brand logo design. There are plenty of apps like Canva and AI tools to help you create a simple logo quickly. Look at brands like Nike, Twitter (now ‘X’) and Apple. All have simplistic logos that symbolize what their brand is about. Your logo may evolve further down the line, but for now, keep things simple and aligned with your offering.
Next, pick primary colors that you feel resonate with your brand and product or service. For example, brands associated with sustainability may choose earthy colors like browns, greens, and blues. In contrast, sportswear or skincare brands that want to instill feelings of self-confidence may choose colors that exude power, like black, gold, and white.
Along the way, ensure everything from your logo to color palettes remains consistent throughout your visuals and messaging. This guarantees a cohesive brand identity that helps build customer loyalty and trust.
Define Your Tone and Messaging
How you sound speaks volumes when it comes to standing out. There’s a lot of noise in the digital landscape right now, so having a unique tone of voice is crucial.
Think about your brand and how you want to communicate with customers. Are you playful? Funny? Formal? Knowing these questions will set the foundations.
Your tone must align with your values and ideology because this is how customers will view your brand. This is essential, considering 88% of respondents in an Edelman survey said it was important to purchase from brands that they trust.
By defining your core values, you’re better equipped to create a tone that aligns with your brand and resonates with customers.
Welcome Customer Feedback
At this stage, you should have a strong understanding of how to identify your audience, what the aesthetic of your brand will be, and how to effectively communicate with customers.
The next step is to gather feedback to see how others are responding to your identity. Here are a few ways you can do this and examples of what it might look like in practice:
- Online reviews: Businesses targeting area code 720 can use local customer reviews on platforms like Google My Business. Good or bad, you can use these insights to improve or home in on certain aspects of your offering.
- Engage with your audience on social media: Skincare, homeware, and fashion brands might find it particularly useful for monitoring social media. Use platforms like Hootsuite to monitor brand mentions and comments based on keywords, hashtags, and specific users.
Also, consider leveraging influencer marketing strategies to collaborate with social media influencers who align with your brand values and can help you reach a broader audience.
- Create surveys and polls: B2B businesses might find this helpful for gauging how clients rate their product or service. You can find online tools to help create surveys and frame them around specific services such as your product quality and integration or customer service experience.
- Recording calls for training and monitoring: Businesses in all sectors can learn a lot about their target customers using call-tracking software accompanied by the best AI transcription tool. Record interactions with your customer support team to gain valuable insights into customer concerns and expectations.
Each of these feedback channels offers a better understanding of how your brand is perceived and, in turn, allows you to adapt and refine it to keep customers happy.
The Key to Creating a Strong Brand Identity
Small businesses don’t need a big budget to create an engaging and memorable brand identity. Having a strong value proposition, memorable aesthetic, and unique tone of voice will set you up for success.
The key is to remain consistent and always be willing to adapt based on feedback. The world never sits still, and neither should your brand!