Small businesses need to have a comprehensive branding plan from day one if they want to stay competitive. There used to be a time when small businesses didn’t have to pay that much attention to their brand because they relied primarily on word of mouth and reputation.
Nowadays, a small business needs to have a brand that’s recognizable both off and online, and both with the experts within the industry and among the customers. This doesn’t have to be expensive to accomplish, but it needs to be arranged with the customer in mind.
What makes a brand unique?
This may sound like a general and abstract question but it’s anything but that because it’s key to having an effective marketing campaign. You need to know what separates your brand from every other brand in your industry. This requires some research both of your customer base and the business itself.
This uniqueness should be the main focus of your marketing campaign. It should be the base of the narrative about your brand and you also need to find ways to express it using visuals whenever possible.
Let the employees speak for you
Your employees are brand ambassadors that could represent your company better than anyone else. They know both the products and the services offered, as well as the company culture, better than any advertising agency which gives them a unique advantage.
In order to turn your employees into such brand ambassadors you first need to make sure that they feel like they are a part of your team and not just someone who’s a disposable part of the company machine. This can partially be achieved with acceptable wages and benefits that come with the job, but usually making the work environment comfortable and pleasant is much more important.
Amplify the brand message naturally
There’s a limit as to just how much traditional marketing channels can do to spread the word about your brand and your story. At some point, your brand should become something that’s a part of the community and that your customers and clients talk about on their own.
This is something that appears to happen naturally, but it’s actually often a product of careful planning and consideration. That means that you need to constantly ask for and act upon the feedback you’re getting from your customers.
Reward customer loyalty
Your business is basically there to serve the needs of your customers, and if it manages to do that, your brand will become well-known almost on its own. A big part of that is keeping your customers loyal and always working on rewarding them for their loyalty.
It can be achieved with a simple gesture like honoring someone for being a part of your customer community for a while or rewarding the 100th customer of the week. Simple sales and bonuses could mean a lot for a small business.
Mix things up
In order to keep your brand fresh and interesting, you need to change things up every once in a while, in terms of the aesthetic and visual identity. These changes should encompass all the channels your business uses for promotion both on and offline. For example, many local businesses in Australia are turning to offline marketing channels and branded printing in Sydney is becoming a part of their strategies. However, it’s imperative to roll in the change in a careful and deliberate manner. It should be an event on its own. That way you, you’ll hype up your new look but also make the transition easier for customers.
Embrace new technology
The changes in tech, and especially tech used for communication, are affecting branding and marketing in general. By embracing new technologies you’re making parts of your day-to-day job easier, but you’re also sending a message about the company and how it sees itself.
A lot of the marketing processes can be automated, especially when it comes to social media and customer services. If a small business invests in this technology it means that it wants to play in the big league and the customers will take note of the effort.
Mistakes will happen in both branding and public relations in general. This is something that happens because the process is more art than science and it doesn’t always turn out that well. It’s important to be prepared for such a scenario and respond to it in a manner that affects your brand the least.
These gaffes may be the crucial point for establishing a brand that goes beyond visual identity and a logo. If a mistake was caused by your employees, it’s imperative for the business to acknowledge this fact and take responsibility for it. That way, your brand will become synonymous with honesty and accountability.