People often associate the term ‘branding’ with big businesses, but the fact is, it is important for any business, big or small. A ‘brand’ for a business is the same as a name to a human. You identify a company with its brand, which transcends its logo or name. For instance, when you talk about Apple, you don’t just think of the half-eaten apple logo, instead, you think authenticity, quality, and trust, which took years to build.
Large companies spend millions on branding but small businesses obviously cannot match the budget. So, how do small businesses go about creating this space in the minds of their customers? Here is a hint – small businesses usually share a closer bond with their customers and since branding is all about customers, they should, therefore, utilize this to their advantage.
If you own a small business and are feeling clueless about how to go about competing with larger brands, here are 4 simple, inexpensive strategies you can effectively employ to create a strong and successful brand:
- Target audience
You must have a strong understanding of your target customers, from the age group to gender to culture to ethnicity. You should have a clear picture of who you want to sell your products or services to. This will help you to create the right brand image. For example, generally, women in their twenties dress differently than women in their thirties. Also, working women dress a certain way while college-goers have a distinctly different style. Hence if you are a clothing company, knowing and understanding these subtle differences will ensure you market your clothes effectively, such that a working woman in her thirties is instantly reminded of you when she thinks of buying clothes.
- Have a clear goal
It is important to have a clear business goal or a message that you want to convey to your customers. For example, say you are a skincare company, the first thing you must do is decide on what you are trying to sell. Are you targeting a particular skin problem like acne? Or are you trying to place yourself as an organic skincare company? Once this goal is clear, you have to start marketing yourself with that message such that when people talk about acne or organic skincare, they think about your company.
- Stand out
Even if you have a clear message for your customers, there are possibly a thousand other companies selling the same things as you, so how do you create a special place in the minds of the people? Simple, by standing out. You have to think of something that sets your company apart from the others, be it a marketing strategy or a different kind of product. Going back to the example of the clothing company, you can create an impression in the minds of your customers by photographing your models in a certain way, which then becomes your signature brand image (think Zara).
This is probably the most important strategy and the one that tilts the balance scales towards small businesses. More than anything else, your customers will remember your brand based on how you treated them, made them feel, and their experience of dealing with your company. Since small companies have the advantage of sharing a closer bond with their customer, make sure you take full advantage of it and do as much engaging as you can. Share their pictures and experiences with your products on social media, address their complaints fast and as compassionately as possible, and give them the experience to remember. Nothing can make your business stand out more in the minds of people than this.
It is a misconception that effective branding requires big budgets. In this age of social media marketing, branding is about creativity, impactful content, and of course the customers. Don’t think of yourself as a small business, think of yourself as a brand and you will be one.