Every small business has a brand. It may not be the one they want, but they definitely have one. Most small business brands are, unfortunately, made by default and not design. And that is too bad because branding is critical for small business success.
What is it you think of when you think of McDonald’s or Mercedes Benz? Mercedes and McDonald’s have spent a ton of time and money getting you to think of certain things when you hear their name, be it low prices or luxury cars or whatever. That’s a brand.
So, what do people think of when they think of your business?
For good or ill, that’s your brand.
Yet, while branding is something most small business people know is important, many also think creating a great brand is easier said than done. Certainly for a big business, creating a valuable and memorable brand is important and doable. With huge budgets and resources, with MBAs and ad companies, large corporations can pretty easily shape their image.
But branding is not only possible for the smaller business, in some ways it is easier. After all, you don’t need to get everyone to know about your business, just enough people to reinforce your desired image. And these days, because there are so many tools available, creating that valuable brand need not cost a fortune either.
1. First, consider what you want your brand to be.
Mercedes Benz reinforces its luxury brand with advertising, marketing, showrooms, and products. Quality and luxury are their promise to their customers. Amazon promises a huge selection at very low prices. Starbucks promises a cool place to hang out and a great cup of coffee.
So, what are you are promising your customers?
Are you the sedation dentist, the inexpensive lawyer, the affordable convenience store, or what? Step one in this process therefore is to think about what you want people to think when they think about your business.
2. Next, create and reinforce that image.
As indicated, there are no shortage of tools you can use these days to create your desired brand. Here are the basic ones:
• Your name. For a small business, there is no better branding tool maybe than the name of the business. It is what people hear first and so a name that projects your desired brand is invaluable. Think Quickee Mart or Baja Fresh. Names like that relay a promise and desired impression all at once. If you already have a business, I am not telling you to rename it (but maybe I am), the important thing is to understand the power of a great business name for branding purposes.
• Your tagline: A tagline is an easy way to create a specific impression. When you hear Just Do It you likely think of Nike. That’s the idea. By using the same tagline again and again, you can create your desired image in people’s mind.
• Your website and social media: As important as your offline work is, your online presence is even more important. People often check out your website and/or social media efforts before ever contacting you. Make sure yours are up to snuff.
• Your advertising and marketing: Reinforce that brand in all you do.
3. Remember, repetition is the key, repetition is the key, repetition is the key.
What is the key? See?
By consistently reinforcing and reiterating your desired message, by using your tagline again and again, by having a robust online presence, you can go a long way to creating the brand you want in people’s mind, and after all, that’s where branding really takes place.
Steve Strauss is an attorney, popular speaker, and the bestselling author of 17 books, including The Small Business Bible. You can learn more about Steve at MrAllBiz.com, get even more tips at his site TheSelfEmployed, and connect with him on Twitter at @SteveStrauss and on Facebook at TheSelfEmployed.