Branding – Small Businesses Need It Too
From Nike to Coke, products with strong branding have an undeniable and unspoken strength that, when properly executed, can skyrocket sales. So, what is branding exactly? Branding differentiates one product from another in a competitive marketplace. I often lecture about this topic in my college marketing course, because it is such a fundamental part of marketing.
Let’s examine Coke. A brand everyone loves - even Mad Men! Why do people buy Coke, instead of generic cola? I’m not knocking Pepsi, or other soda brands for that matter, but Coke is still the soda king. Even today, after so many years on the market, Coke is a powerhouse of brand equity (the added value that a product gives to the marketplace). Strong brand equity helps companies build long-term customer loyalty.
But what exactly does branding represent for small businesses? Actually, it represents a lot. Branding is particularly important for small businesses that want to create value for their customers in order to grow their businesses.
Here are some steps that small businesses can take to build their brand and work towards brand equity.
Write a Mission Statement
Your mission statement should be brief but powerful, defining what your business stands for and why customers should buy from you. Let’s use Ben & Jerry’s Product Mission Statement as an example.
“To make, distribute and sell the finest quality all natural ice cream and euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the Environment.”
In one statement, Ben and Jerry’s communicates that their products contain natural ingredients and that they operate using sustainable business practices.
Create a Logo and a Tagline
Your logo is a graphical representation of your business. Logos are a critical stepping-stone to launching your brand presence. A great logo will stand as the face of your company or service.
Along with your logo, a compelling tagline is equally important. When developing a tagline, it is important to communicate the benefits of your business or service, how you stand apart from your competitors, and how you deliver value to your customers.
Be Consistent in Your Marketing
Once you’ve established your logo and tagline, you MUST use it on all your promotional materials such as your website, brochures, social media sites, etc. A consistent look and feel in your marketing presence communicates to the world that you’re an established and professional business. Avoid using low-quality or distorted images of your logo and tagline. Remember, it’s your brand – protect it.
Now I want to hear from you. Do you think branding is just for the big guys, or do you see branding as a vital component of any thriving business? What other steps can small businesses take to build their brands? Sound off in the comments.