How To Take Your SMB Branding to the Next Level
Trying to market your business can be challenging for small to medium businesses (SMBs). When your products or services are potentially going up against larger companies with massive budgets, you must ensure that your customers are connected to YOU and what YOU can do differently.
We wanted to give you some branding tips and strategies tailored to what SMBs can do to make their business stand out.
Here’s a little overview of what you can expect to learn about SMB branding:
- We’ll explain what SMB branding is to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- We will explain the big ideas that your business should consider across ALL branding activities.
- We then will break down some of the top brand elements that SMBs can use to set themselves apart.
- Finally, we will give you some ideas to keep in mind so that your brand is consistent across the board.
If that sounds good to you, we can’t wait to give you some of our favourite insights. Let’s get started!
What is SMB Branding?
Small and medium-sized businesses use different tactics than larger enterprises for marketing their products and services effectively. You need to be even more efficient with your resources and stay true to your brand.
Hold up, what’s all this mention of “branding”?
For most SMBs, the math is often simple. It’s harder to stand out in areas such as being a low-cost leader, and that’s simply because larger corporations are more inclined to outsource and cut costs with scale.
However, SMBs can still be successful and frequently outperform their larger competitors. This can be because of having an effective and cohesive brand.
Your brand is what makes your company you. Whether that means having a solid mission guiding you, an exciting team surrounding you, or adding value to your products through meaningful touches, your brand consists of the things that can help your company stand out.
We’ll be talking about different brand elements later, which are the components that make up your brand. Whether your logo, packaging, marketing materials and channels, we’ll dive deep into creating a cohesive story amongst your presentations to your customers.
You can break branding into two categories, brand AWARENESS and brand IMAGE.
- Brand awareness is making sure your customers can recognise and recall your brand.
- You want to work towards your brand being on the forefront of people’s minds as they begin their journey within whatever category you are in.
- Brand image has more to do with people’s perceptions of your brand.
- Whatever your branding speaks to, your company goal is to have a strong, favourable, and unique image in the minds of your customers.
As an SMB, you’re in a unique position to avoid the same old, same old. You aren’t boxed into a corporate box. Instead, you can play with different marketing and branding strategies that speak to who you are.
Moving onto the big ideas
With SMB branding, we want to keep those two main categories in mind, how are we going to make sure that everyone is AWARE of who your SMB is, and how are we going to make sure everyone has a strong, favourable, and unique IMAGE of who you are.
We wanted to give you a little roadmap of considerations to help you establish those big ideas that will come into play once we discuss different brand elements.
What’s your brand mantra?
Your SMB branding needs to have a brand mantra that you will infuse into the different aspects of your branding material. A brand mantra is a 3 to 5 word phrase that will capture the essence of your brand positioning.
If your team, customers, or SMB leaders were asked to describe SMB’s brand quickly, you should all get the same or similar outcome. If everyone can similarly describe your brand, you’ll know you have been successful.
Have you built your brand resonance?
Brand resonance is simply the consumer’s relationship with your product or service and how well they can relate to it.
Your brand resonance would provide loyalty, attachment, community, and engagement in an ideal world. If you haven’t fully defined or built your brand resonance, get started with these simple questions:
- Brand identity, who are you as an SMB?
- Brand meaning, what are you?
- Brand response, what do consumers think about you?
- Brand relationship, what about you and your consumers? How much of a connection do you want?
Once you have these big ideas down, you’re ready to put them into action. Your big ideas should be unique to your brand and speak to the core of your business. Now that you have them defined, let’s make sure your SMB branding is presenting them in a way that can speak to your customers.
Now onto your brand elements
These are some of the most popular brand elements that SMBs can take advantage of. Some brand elements, such as jingles playing on prime time television, are not realistic for SMBs. However, that doesn’t mean that your business can’t get the same IMAGE and AWARENESS you deserve.
Logo and slogan
Your logo design or slogan is a simple way to leave your mark on everything you do, so you need to make sure they go beyond a fun font or simple design.
Make sure that your logo and slogan are intentional, memorable and meaningful, and hopefully help describe who your business is.
The best logos and slogans will be transferable across mediums to be implemented in places such as your website, your packaging, and your social media.
Today, your SMB branding is undoubtedly in luck. There are many affordable services available that can help give you an advantage in having a well functioning and beautifully designed website.
You’ll want to work your big picture ideas into your website by incorporating fonts, images, and descriptions that speak to who you are.
For example, if you want your customers to relate to your brand, consider adding a “Meet the Team” section to your website where you can share more about the people behind your team.
Your SMB branding should aim to give your customers an experience, which includes holding and opening the packaging of your product. Add touches that will make your brand highly memorable while staying consistent with your branding big picture.
If you want your brand to ooze luxury, consider playing with more than just the senses of touch and sight. Add a new sense into the mix by playing with scent, and consider spraying a signature scent. Or consider adding sound, which could include music being incorporated into your website.
Social media channels
Your social media is a great way to connect with your customers, and you should do it in a way that doesn’t leave people wondering if multiple people have access to your accounts.
Our pro tip is to run your social media through the lens of your brand mantra. When making a post, think about which of those 3 to 5 words you represent. You should be able to identify at least one each time you hit “post” or “publish”.
Other forms of communication
Your branding should be seen across your other forms of communication, which can be easy, low-cost ways to convey your messaging.
Send regular emails through tactics such as newsletters, and keep your phone conversations in line with your brand, from your greeting to your voicemail message.
How to make it all work together
You may be excited about the new brand elements you can implement while considering your brand image and brand awareness levels. However, it makes sense to ensure that everything works together as a cohesive brand story.
Creating a cohesive brand can be incredibly difficult, as many moving parts should ideally be fitting together. On the surface, each of these brand elements may operate entirely independently.
In an ideal world, you’ll be able to improve the brand elements on a timeline that makes sense for your business while ensuring that all of your components are cohesive and work together.
Additional considerations to keep everything on the same page
1 – Who is your ideal customer?
Tailoring your brand to your ideal customer can help you better frame your branding conversations. If you know that your target audience is highly tech-savvy, you’ll want to infuse that across your brand elements.
Whether adding QR codes to your packaging or updating your social media to show trendy photo and video editing, you can keep these perspectives in mind across activities.
Pro tip: When figuring out your ideal customer, frame the conversation as more than just demographic facts and statistics. Instead, think carefully about the type of customer you are trying to reach and create a fully fleshed-out character to represent your target market. This character, also called a persona, can help you as you walk through your branding decisions.
2 – What elements can you keep consistent?
Once they are updated, there are some elements that you should update across other branding elements—for example, your logo.
Once you have redesigned or updated your logo, you must update it across other materials. That includes your website, social media, packaging, etc.
Pro tip: Keep the timing of your updating of brand elements in mind. If you have updated your logo but aren’t ready to update your website, it may make sense to hold off on launching your new logo until you can implement it across the board.
Consistency will help you avoid confusing your customers, and it will create a more professional brand for your business.
3 – Where can you limit design options?
When updating your elements, it may make sense to limit your design options to avoid inconsistencies and your customers feeling overwhelmed. This can include design options such as:
- Font choices
- Colours and colour palettes
- Stylistic elements such as embedded videos and other imagery
Stick to a limited selection within each of these design options. One of our favourite pro tips involves brand colours. You can easily limit your palette by selecting three; a dominant colour, a secondary colour, and an accent colour.
You will typically use those colours according to the 60-30-10 rule. While this “rule” is flexible and can be adapted to fit your business better, it can help provide a starting point when considering your design options.
4 – Where are you getting your images?
Many businesses don’t create their own images, which makes perfect sense. If you update a blog regularly, add new sub-pages, and don’t require product images, it’s simpler to grab images through royalty-free websites.
However, it can be a significant benefit to add consistency across your elements to source your images from the same websites or even from the same photographers. This way, you can add an extra layer of consistency for your customers.
Once your brand elements have been fleshed out, going the extra step to consider things such as brand consistency can make a difference. Consistency can create stronger brand associations and present a more professional image to customers.
At the end of the day
SMBs are uniquely positioned to transform their branding into something that will speak to their customers individually.
Avoid the corporate cliches, and instead, step into who you are as a brand and create the IMAGE and AWARENESS that your brand deserves.
You can do that by implementing innovative changes in some of the top brand elements that your SMB branding may already be using.