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In the United States, approximately 30 million small businesses employ almost 48 percent of the US workers. These small and medium-sized businesses hugely impact the US economy through innovation and job creation. If the report is to be believed, small businesses created more employment than businesses with over 500 employees. Organization with fewer than 50 employees have contributed the most to the growth of employment in the country.
And yet, the same report also reveals that only two-thirds of all small businesses survive at least two years, half of them survive at least 5 years, and only one-third of them touch the 10-year mark. Limited budget and cash flow have been the biggest concern for these companies. However, with the right branding and presence, it’s not only possible to sustain but get ahead of the bigger players even.
Corporate branding is one of the first steps to get any small business on the map. As a small business owner, you might have a notion that branding is something best left to companies with deeper pockets. However, the truth is that business branding is an absolute must irrespective of its size. Here are five branding tips that will take any small business up a notch. Let’s take a look.
If you’re new to the concept of corporate branding, you’d be forgiven to think that it’s all about slapping a logo and having distinct visuals associated with your brand. While those are an integral part of the process, corporate branding is much more than that. Your branding defines who you are as a company and reflects your vision, mission, and values.
Therefore, before you take any tactical steps, it’s best to figure out your brand identity. Once you know what your brand stands for, its missions and values, the next step is to figure out who your target customers are. Analyze what demographic of customers your business best cater to and devise a branding strategy curated for them. This way you will have a brand that truly connects with the customer.
Once you have figured out who you are as a business and your brand identity, it’s time for more tactical steps like logo designing and visual assets. Consistency is the key here and good branding always has uniform brand colors, typography, and design elements across the board. This way when a customer sees those elements anywhere, they will immediately associate them with your brand.
Speaking of which, the first thing that a customer will associate with your brand is the logo. It’s a visual asset that acts as the face of any company and should be the first thing that any business must design as part of branding. Next up, in the digital-first era, it’s a must to own a piece of digital real estate aka a website. Ensure that the visual assets on your website are consistent with your logo and other design elements.
Some businesses might need additional branding assets like corporate stationery, letterheads, and packaging. If your business involves a lot of paper communication, it would be best to invest in a professional-looking corporate letterhead and a seal stamp.
When you send out a neatly designed letterhead with a brand stamp, it leaves a lasting impression on the receiver. The next time they receive any communication from you, they’ll immediately be able to recall your brand and that’s what good corporate branding is all about.
Having said that, corporate branding extends beyond how your brand looks visually and your marketing strategies. What truly defines branding is how they connect with their customers, their goodwill, and the way they treat their customers. What your customer says about your company and its services is what branding is. Therefore, good customer service is one of the best corporate branding tools.
Come to think about it, if a customer has a positive experience while interacting with a brand, they are more likely to come back and also spread the word to their circle. To nail the customer experience go beyond the single interaction with them. The key is to be consistent with the customer care quality regardless of what, how, and when. This way you’ll be branding your business as the one that cares and gain the trust of your customers.
Having said that, gaining the trust of customers is not an easy task, especially if you’re a new brand just starting. One of the best ways to speed up the process of gaining the trust of your customers is by associating with a brand that your customers already trust. If your brand is introduced to your customers by a brand they already work with, they’re most likely to extend the trust to you by proxy.
The key is to find a business that has similar but non-competitive customers. Say you own a protein shake company or a juice bar, partnering with the local gym to put up a pop-up stall in their premises, leaving samples with a local sports store, and so on is a great way to gain trust. None of these other brands are direct competitors and will be willing to work with you while you reach more audiences and gain trust by association. It’s a win-win situation.
Needless to say, small businesses don’t need to burn a hole in their budget for corporate branding. A little bit of creativity and elbow grease will get there just fine. Now that you know what it takes, let’s get cracking.
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