“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well” – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.
Brand Building or Branding is nothing but a story that your customers tell themselves when they are looking to buy a product or service from your business. You can choose to ignore it, but it’s always there.
Either you can make it good, create one of the best stories which your customers will tell, or you can ignore it and let destiny decide your fate. Of course, you can’t eat a brand or drive a brand or use the brand to wash your clothes, but the story which your brand tells will remind your customers about your passion, the trigger which ignited your business, and the association they have with you.
And this association, this link between you and your customer is what branding all about.
Brand Building for Small Businesses: The Main Problem
While large corporations like Coca-Cola (the color red is their branding story), or McDonald’s can spend millions of dollars for building a strong brand, and small businesses cannot afford the same. They have a limited budget, tight cash flow, and mounting expenses. Within this chaos, they need to create a brand for themselves as well, and indeed, this is not an easy task. But not impossible. Thanks to the internet and digital, social media revolution, the exercise to build brand awareness for small businesses is now possible, cheap, and very doable, even without an army of branding experts. All you need is a plan, a strong will, and an intense desire to make a dent in the universe via your own branding story. You can build a brand through internal elements and through external elements and in most cases internal elements are free.
The following article says 10 things do not require talent. Similarly, there are 10 things that do not require money to build a brand. Sales presentation, letterhead, visiting cards, website theme, sales pitch, the way you treat and greet your customers, the way you deal with your employees, policies, culture, or anything you do. It is the character of your business which you drive as a founder.
Creating a Brand Identity for Small Businesses: 5 Strategies
For creating a brand identity, all you need is a powerful and compelling story and a strategy to make it big, viral among your target audience. Remember that the Internet has now created a level playing field for all businesses, big or small. That loyal customer of KFC has a mobile with the internet now, and just like KFC, even you can target them, influence them, convert them into your loyal customer for life.
Here are five low-cost brand building strategies which will help small businesses to create their own story efficiently, and effectively with long term benefits:
1. Start a Website/ Blog Right Now
A blog and a website is probably the cheapest and yet most powerful branding technique right now, for small businesses. There are billions of searches online, daily, and the trend is only increasing as more and more people come online. More than 2 billion online shoppers already exist, buying goods and services every second as we are speaking. By building a blog, your small business will suddenly share the same platform with Amazon and Walmart and Uber, and other digital biggies and the position of your brand will elevate with a single glance.
Having a website and a blog means that you can communicate seamlessly with everyone, without any barriers, and your information and details will spread far and wide. Launch Social Media Accounts – Social Media is no more luxury. It has become part of our daily lives, and if your small business is not on social media, then you are missing a lot of action. People are selling their products and services via Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp without even opening a physical shop, and this proves that social media has altered the way businesses are being conducted today.
But, a nugget of advice: Don’t open up accounts on every social media profile, and then abandon it midway. But rather select one or two most important social media platforms where your audience resides, and focus all your energy on making them big.
2. Trigger Emotions in your Customers
Now, one of the most important brand building strategies, which is almost free of cost: Invoke, trigger emotions in your audience. How you create those emotions will determine the branding story which your customers will themselves, and indirectly influence your overall business. Your audience will perceive your brand based on these emotions. Based on your history of launching your business, you need to create a voice, an identity, a message which will make your audience feel invested in your brand. Blogs, websites, and social media profiles are just the mediums through which this voice and message will be propagated.
3. Develop a Visual Identity that Resonates
When it comes to branding, then visual identity is a must. It was important 200 years ago, and it’s relevant now as well because human beings are visual creatures. They may forget the exact visuals they have seen years back, but they will never forget the message which those visuals broadcasted. Remember the importance of Red color for Coca-Cola branding or Blue for Facebook?
Besides color, typography is also something that aids in making your visual identity compelling and memorable. Choose fonts and logos which resonate with your brand identity, and make it uniform across the website, social media, letterheads, visiting cards, marketing materials, the color of your shop, and more.
4. Offer Freebies with a Purpose
Freebies are a powerful marketing technique, and every big or small brand uses them for spreading their message, generating leads, and more. Yes, freebies cost money, but considering the brand building impact it generates, it’s worth it.
Always plan freebies with the purpose of brand building, and it can change everything. Small, inexpensive brandable gift items such as pens, cardholders, caps can stay with your audience for a long time and will keep reminding them about your brand building story.
5. Use Email Marketing
Emails are the most powerful direct marketing tool, and when it comes to low-cost brand building strategies for small businesses, then its importance cannot be ignored. Although spamming is a big issue, when it comes to outstanding, creative, and impactful emails, then the message seeps right across the heart of the reader and leaves a long-lasting impact. Most serious buyers and sellers still use emails for official communication and if done responsibly and without any intention of spamming, then emails can be the brand building tool for you.
Still undecided about brand building strategies, and wondering where to start? All you need to do is book a call with a Branding Expert from MSMEx and clear all your doubts and apprehensions regarding brand building for small businesses. MSMEx.in provides a unique platform of business coaches and business advisors who can provide you expert guidance and consulting, when and where you need it.
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Refer here to watch a brand building and management webinar by MSMEx expert.