Is it me or is branding a buzz word that’s everywhere at present? As a branding expert with over 20 years in the industry, even I’m a little bored of using it. I have reverted to simply calling myself a graphic and web designer on occasion to stand out! Yet, I do believe in the importance of a solid brand for effective business growth. So, I don’t want to ignore or belittle it in any way. So, why is branding important for small businesses?
In order to understand why branding is important for small business owners (as well as the large corporates), we first need to understand exactly what branding is.
So, what is branding?
Branding is the process of connecting good strategy with good creativity.
There are two distinctive, separate areas of branding, Brand Strategy and Brand Design.
Brand Strategy looks at the reasons why the brand exists and what it stands for; its mission, vision, purpose and values. It also looks at how the brand should communicate and behave and consequently be perceived; personality and tone of voice. During this stage of the process, a business should first look at key areas such as competitors, target audience and USP to determine where they are positioned within the market.
I would recommend finding a brand consultant to help you with this stage of the branding process as it can be complicated and difficult to do alone. You could also download our free guide on ‘What’s involved in Rebranding an SME‘, as this has worksheets for your Brand Strategy that you could work through. If you have a team, then set up a couple of brand workshops to work through the process in a fun and engaging manner.
Your Brand Strategy defines what you stand for, a promise you make, and the personality you convey. It defines clear objectives to help guide the subjective design choices for your brand identity.
Brand Design or Brand Identity is the look and feel of your brand. The visual impact your brand makes on the world. It’s graphic design essentially, but it takes the brand strategy as an objective measure to guide the visual elements of the brand.
A strong and distinguishable brand image consists of;
- Responsive Logo
- Colour Palette
- Pattern / graphic device
- Imagery / illustrations
You could either go to an agency who could help you with the complete branding process or commission two separate people or companies to focus on each area. One thing is certain though, the Brand Strategy must come first and is fundamental if you want your business to start with the solid foundations to attract the right market and grow.
Once you have looked at both the core areas of branding, you should be provided with Brand Guidelines document – also commonly referred to as Style Guide or Brand Book. This is essentially a set of rules that explain how your brand looks and behaves. It will help with your Marketing Strategy and help keep your brand consistent across all marketing channels. This will help your online presence and social media platforms look seamless and consistent, helping to solidify your brands look.
Why is branding important for small businesses?
So now you’ve understood exactly what branding is, surely you get why a brand is important? In fact, it’s fundamental for small businesses right from the outset. A strategic and strong brand helps your company gain recognition and brand loyalty from its ideal customers.
If a company explores its brand strategy correctly it’ll create an emotional connection with its audience, which is ultimately what it’s all about. To keep things simple, I’ve come up with four main reasons how branding will help your small business.
1. Branding provides clarity and vision
The Brand Strategy process provides a business with a clearer perspective of where the business should be positioned within the market. It helps small business owners take ownership of the brand and communicate it to others. Combine this with marketing tactics and you will have a solid marketing message to relay to your audience.
2. Branding provides instant recognition
Keeping your brand consistent allows it to be more immediately recognisable within your industry and with your target audience. You have eight seconds to make an impression, make sure your brand is instantly recognisable.
3. Branding increases perceived business value
When a brand’s identity is cohesive, it increases the brand’s perceived value. Consistency allows your brand to appear more professional and reliable. It ultimately communicates that your brand takes pride in the details. By implementing brand guidelines, you make it easier to maintain the quality and integrity of your brand’s image.
4. Branding generates new customers
A good brand will have no trouble drumming up referral business, just like businesses known for great customer service. Strong branding generally means there is a positive impression of the company amongst consumers, and they are likely to do business with you because of the familiarity and assumed dependability of using a name they can trust. Once a brand has been well-established, word of mouth will be the company’s best and most effective advertising technique.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR of ‘Why is branding important for small businesses?’
Hi, I’m Angela Zeballos, I’m the Creative Director and founder of az.design – a ‘virtual design agency’ concept established in 2013. This means I work with a multi- talented team of associates, to bring a full-service offer to my clients specifically tailored to their project brief.
At az.design we want to make branding easier for growing companies – ensuring your brand is up-to-date, consistent and critically, appeals to your target audience. We aim to produce creativity that is at the forefront of design and technology, reflecting the latest trends and social media activity.