One of the biggest mistakes small and medium business owners make is to invest in their brand “LATER”. It usually goes along these lines…
“I’ll invest in branding once I grow my business.”
“I’ll start thinking about branding when I’m bigger.”
So the question is… how do you grow your business without a strong brand? How do you define “bigger”?
Sorry to burst your bubble here, but your branding journey actually starts when you start your business (sometimes earlier than that if you’re pitching to investors).
If you’re a small to medium business owner guilty of the above, then this article is for you.
We’re going to be sharing 5 practical tips for you to build a strong foundation for your business via branding.
Before we start, let’s cover what is a brand?
A brand is your company’s reputation. Your brand is the sum of everything your company do to represent who you are. It’s your company’s identity. It’s not about what products or services your company offers, it’s about what your customers think of you, your products or services. It’s an emotional connection. It’s a gut feeling.
You know how when you meet a new person for the first time and at the back of your mind, you’re forming an impression of this person? That time when your gut feeling kicks in and form assumptions in your head? Yeah, that’s what a brand is all about.
When people think of Apple, they think of an industry leader who’s innovative, modern, premium and reliable. It feels cool and good to own Apple products. Everything just works seamlessly and is often associated with a higher social status.
Branding is the process of doing things that will influence your customer’s gut feeling about your company, products, or services.
Now that we’ve established what a brand is, let’s dive in.
Tip #1: Define Your Purpose
This is the most important tip. If you’re the founder, ask yourself these questions. It gets harder as we dive deeper to the core.
1. Who Are We?
The more specific you can be, the better. It’s alright to start broader, but keep working on your brand to niche down. As a business owner, this should be a straightforward answer. This should be kept short and explained in a simple manner.
Something like this…
Connecty is a corporate branding agency.
2. What Do We Do?
This is where business owners will typically struggle for a bit. It’s natural for business owners to want to offer an entire world of products/services to their customers. Please don’t do that. It will dilute your brand. Plus, humans can only remember a maximum of 3 things at one time.
For Connecty, it’s something like this…
We bridge the gap between business strategy and creativity with copywriting, graphic design, and websites.
3. Why Do We Matter?
Why does your brand matter to your customers? Why should customers buy from you? Why should they care? It’s a simple question with a not-so-straightforward answer. Many business owners will find it challenging to answer this.
Many business owners will say…
“Because we’re the cheapest”
Okay, but can you guarantee that your products/services can be the cheapest with the rising cost of operation and remain profitable over time? If you can’t then it’s not going to matter.
Why does Connecty matter?
We help businesses tell their brand story and position them accurately in the market.
To sum it all up, here’s what we tell the world.
Connecty is a corporate branding agency with expertise in bridging the gap between business strategy and creativity. We help businesses tell their brand story and position them accurately in the market.
Whewww… that was a long but necessary tip!
Tip #2: Choose a Simple Brand Name
With the information gathered from Tip #1, you’re ready to name your brand. Keep it short and simple so that everyone can pronounce it.
Here are some tips to choose a good name.
Try and choose a name that will stand out from the crowd. Like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and so on.
Try and choose one with 3 syllables. “Con – nec – ty”. Something like Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf will be shortened for you. Then we get a mixed bag like Coffee Bean or CBTL created by the market (luckily they’re famous, otherwise, how would your customers know it’s your brand name?)
Choose a name that’s neutral, cross-check it in other languages or slang. You definitely don’t want to be investing in building a brand name only to find out that it means something obscene in another language. (Malaysians will definitely have a good laugh)
Are the social media handles and domain names available for the chosen brand name? Like @connectymy and https://connecty.my. Has the name already been trademarked by someone else?
Why does it matter?
Because it makes it easier for your customers to type in your brand name to search for you. It also allows you to trademark your brand name and logo to protect what you’ve built from your competitors.
Tip #3: Design A Brand Logo
A logo is not a brand, but it is an extremely valuable asset to build your brand. Why? Because it’s a symbol that your customers will remember you by. It is a symbol of trust, credibility and most importantly, your brand promise!
Here are 4 criteria for a good logo:
2. Simple & Relevant
Expanding on the last point – an adaptable logo is very important in today’s world because there are a huge variety of channels and platforms that your brand can be in. As the list of channels and platforms grow, how well does your logo work on those platforms?
Tip #4: Design Your Brand’s Identity
A brand identity is not all about design. Think of it like a person or your friend. Your friend’s identity is made up of multiple characteristics. From the way he/she dresses, speaks, acts, value system and many more. The sum of those things makes him/her who they are.
For a company, this will translate to:
1. Colours – what is the corporate colour palette that best express your brand? Authoritative? Playful? Calming?
2. Fonts – what type of fonts complements the character of your brand? San-serif? Serif? Handwriting?
3. Image styles – what type of imagery is suitable to express your brand? Bright? Dark? Happy? Serious?
4. Voice – how does your brand sound like? Funny? Friendly? Authoritative?
Tip #5: Build a Website
This goes without saying. In today’s modern society, if your business does not have a website, it’s as good as you don’t exist. How are your customers going to find out more about you? A website is the most important marketing channel that you fully control. It’s a marketing tool that doesn’t sleep.
But… I already have a Facebook page. I don’t need a website. It’s a waste of money. Facebook is free.
Okay… have you considered this?
What happens when Facebook goes offline (like what happened recently) or when Facebook decides to change its algorithms? Good luck with that.
Typically, a business without an official website is also viewed as less credible.
You don’t need all the bells and whistles when you start a website. Deploy one that is enough to tell your brand story. Upgrade it over time.
Businesses are often misunderstood.
Actually, it’s more like your potential customers do not understand what you can offer. Most small to medium businesses focus on selling, that they put little to no priority on building their brand. Over time, they stray from their goals like a ship navigating the open sea without a compass.
Like it or not, the moment you start your business, you’re already branding. How effectively you’re doing it, depends on how well you understand your brand. Branding is a key marketing activity to boost your business. It’s an investment that empowers you to stay on track, align your employees, gain the right customers, and innovate your business.
By following the 5 practical tips above, you’ll be reaping the compounding benefits of a strong brand almost immediately and for years to come.
Don’t have the time? Your time is better off spent running your business and day to day operations?
We can help. Just click the Facebook Chat icon (the little yellow floating icon on the bottom right of your screen) to start a conversation with us.