6 branding tips for small businesses
Updated: Nov 7, 2018
We live in a world where human attention span is a finite resource, Studies are now showing that the average attention span of a human are at a record low of 8 seconds due to social media, to compare the average goldfish has an average of 9 seconds!
It is crucial to make what little time you have in front of your potential customers count when you have to compete on social media to stay ahead.
So how do we do this? I am about to list 6 of the best ways I know to make those seconds count in the most efficient and effective way to benefit your business’s brand and profits.
1- They think therefore I am?
It is no secret that as far as branding goes you will do wonders for your company by asking whether a decision aligns with the image you want to portray, before you make the decision. If it does great, go for it, if it doesn’t, you need to think again.
However, what a lot of upcoming entrepreneurs, and even long term successful entrepreneurs, don’t quite understand or are neglecting is, if they don’t properly manage their brand image, your audience will.
This can be interpreted in different ways. It can either mean that you are doomed to face the wrath of the people. Or, it means that you are able to control exactly what the people think.
Therefore you should carefully curate every piece of content you put out to not only align with your brand image, but also what you want your brand to become.
This will not only help with your branding here and now, it will also help for you to build your brand and your business into the future.
So make sure that you plan the course of your brand image.
Related: Check Out Simon Sinek’s; “Start With Why” for best practice when it comes to aligning purpose with actions.
2- Design and Copy are above all
As I’ve just shown you, if you don’t control what other people see then you can’t control what they think. Then the question remains;
How? Well since you only have around 8 seconds to make a meaningful impression you want to direct it towards your way of thinking (Think of Leonardo Dicaprio in “Inception” but with a hint of Leonardo Dicaprio in “Wolf Of Wall Street”).
There are infinite ways to do this, it’s all down to human psychology. Some basic but crucial ways you can do this are by making good use of design and copy.
When it comes to design you have to make good use of your brands colours and shapes, it all needs to align with your house style, even simple things like using the same filter on 30% opacity for all of your Instagram Posts, yes that really works trust me.
It strikes a chord in peoples head which they seem to enjoy, like a visual harmony, this sort of repetition helps them to associate what they see instantly with your brand in their brain, and looks a lot prettier.
All the big brands do it.
When it comes to copy you need to do your research. Keyword research is crucial for writing copy, It needs to be short and sweet and packed full of as many thumb-stopping words as possible.
Be exciting, people aren’t just going to give your brand attention just because it’s there. It’s no longer grabbing their attention it’s a battle to steal their attention from everyone else on the platform.
You need to make full use of psychological hooks such as un-answered questions, and lists. There is a tactical reason why I titled this article “6 branding tips for small businesses to look like massive corporations”. It’s because it captures attention.
3- Your brand is not a product
In the stone age of marketing it use to be a case of showing your product to as many people as humanly possible. In the beginning of the social media age it worked, until every business and it’s company dog started doing it.
People wised up to it pretty quickly and before we knew it the engagement rate between people and businesses dropped dramatically.
It is no coincidence that the companies who focused on their brand image and not their product were the ones who really benefit from online branding.
It allowed them to connect with their audience in a way which was formerly very difficult, on a personal and emotional level.
Which really builds strong and potentially long lasting ties between company and customer.
Yes I understand that this can be hard for small businesses as they do not have the finances to do the market research to find their ideal customer to adhere to, however using what we learned from the first tip
This could be a benefit, as small businesses have the ability to choose who they want to align with, and if it does not work it would not be too much hassle to reconfigure your brand image, to suit your new preferred audience.
Which perfectly leads us on to the next tip.
Related: Sales Vs. Branding ~ Gary Vaynerchuck
4- Rebranding is a valuable option
Some of you at this point may be thinking that you have done something wrong, and that your brand image is irreparable. However that is simply not the case.
One of the major benefits of being a small business is that you are able to pivot and adjust your positioning. This can be a major benefit to you if you.
You may be 2 months, 2 years, or 2 decades into a project and realise that your industry has shifted and the needs of your customers are no longer aligned with your businesses brand image, to a massive corporations this would be a massive issue and could cost millions to resurrect.
The best time to change is now, as you can gain first movers advantage. Rebranding can be as simple as changing a company logo, or as difficult as restructuring your workforce to comply with a new company ethos.
It really depends on how far you are willing to take it to align with your desired brand image and therefore your ideal customer.
You would not believe the effect of changing your storefront signage will have on your customer base.
5- Your brand image does not have to reflect your business
As a business you can either create your own brand or let others create it for you, but nowhere was it told that the brand in question had to be an accurate representation of how your business runs, in fact it is very rarely accurate.
Many people are under the false impression that their brand image and reputation are the same thing. They are not!
I am not going to lie and tell you have it wouldn’t help, it definitely would, but for some businesses this is not possible.
What a happy world it would be if we were able to pay all our employees 1.5x more than our competitors, or if we could easily donate 20% of our yearly profits to a better cause, unfortunately this is simply not feasible for a lot of small or new businesses (if you can great, I’d love some pointers).
Let me be clear I am not saying that you should lie about doing these things, I am saying however that you want your business to come off as the type of business that would do those sort of things, or things that would be more tailored to your preferred brand image.
A great example of this is RedBull, do you really think that drinking a concoction of sugars and flavourings will make you somehow, as if by magic, inherently better at extreme sport.
No. But if you find yourself on your website you will be greeted by images and articles about ‘cool & extreme’ sports. The point being that it does not matter if you are or are not what you say you are but that you act as if you were.
Related: PR crisis example
6- Size doesn’t matter
Many people believe that in order to have good brand image you need to be a large company with hundreds of thousands of followers. This is simply not true.
The key to a good brand image is not how many people know of your brand. That alone will not make your business any money.
The key is to treat your brand the same regardless of whether you have 10 followers or 10 million. If you treat your branding with care and precision you will naturally over time attract the type of people best suited to the brand you create.
Don’t adhere to the stereotypes of bigger is better. With that attitude you will fall into the trap of poor branding.
To avoid this treat your businesses brand as if it were a conglomerate, no matter what stage you are at. As it is important to you business and your audience at whatever scale.
Concentrate more on delivering a good experience to you existing customers and more will come.
Do not pine over the masses which you wish to acquire. This is a crucial element to branding in small businesses.
To conclude, the best businesses know that the best brands are like people.
People make decisions based on their own characteristics and traits.
People have their own group of friends who like each other because of their mutual interests and habits.
People can be understood by others, to the point where you can almost guess what they are going to do next.
As entrepreneurs we are not only people of business we are authors and our business is our protagonist.
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