People buy from brands they know, like, and trust. Building a positive brand image is never simple, but it is critical to the success of any business.
I’ve helped many small businesses rebrand. Some were moving their business in a new direction. Others were changing ownership.
In some cases, customer behaviour, social attitudes or even competition had evolved.
And some businesses started up in a flurry without taking the time to craft their brand in the first place carefully.
There are five top tips for creating a brand people recognize, trust, and buy from, no matter why you’re rebranding.
Define Your Brand
Your brand is not your logo. It is not your slogan. It is how people think about your company and how they feel about it. You can never completely control your brand, but you can direct it.
You’ve probably seen plenty of companies with slogans like: “Quality. Price. Convenience.”
People want everything from you, like customer service, speed, etc. But it sounds like a conflicting message.
People will know you primarily for just one thing. Your brand is your business personality.
It is how people can distinguish you from others. People will reach out to a brand based on a specific impression. For instance, I’ll choose the one that is the:
- Most fun
- Fastest on delivery
- Best quality
- Most tasty
- Best in customer service
- Most convenient
- Closest to me
- Most socially responsible
While most people would love to buy from a brand that features all the above and more, people tend to focus on just one key factor. What is yours going to be?
If your niche is already overcrowded with “cheap” providers, you might be better off appealing to people who want better quality or better customer service.
On the other hand, if people feel pressured by the high prices in your niche, maybe it’s better to focus on pricing and discounts.
Create a Slogan
“You’re in good hands with Allstate®.” That slogan has been around since 1950.
Allstate doesn’t focus on reducing consumer insurance costs.
It doesn’t focus on convenience or quality. It focuses on the single precept that it will be there when needed.
The salespeople will also try to convince buyers they are getting a good deal and have flexibility and options.
But those are not their brand, and those aspects never eclipse or interfere with the primary image that Allstate will take care of if you need it.
If you have defined your brand already, you will know exactly how you want your target market to position you in their minds.
You will learn the one idea you want people to think of when they hear your company’s name.
How to Use Your Words
Think about how you can translate that into words. This is so very important that it is worth investing more time in these few words than in a year of blog posts or a crate of glossy pamphlets.
PRO TIP: Make it short, 3-5 words. Make it memorable. Make it carry the very essence of your business behind it.
Create the Visuals
Many people think that a logo is a brand. But a brand is so much more than a logo.
A logo is merely the most obvious visual representation of the brand. If they see the logo often enough, people will immediately associate it with your brand.
So, the logo must enforce the key idea you wish to project. This can be done in many ways.
Ways to Create a Logo that Resonates
It might mean a very stark, simple logo if you want to convey the best price.
If you want to convey luxury, you might want a very sleek, shiny logo.
If you want to convey satisfaction or customer service, perhaps it’s shaking hands you want on your logo.
Or you might want to have the logo always accompany a smiling face.
The colors you use in your logo are also important, and you have plenty to choose from.
Each color conveys meaning. For instance, red conveys danger or excitement. It wakes people up. Blue conveys stability.
Not surprisingly, blue is the top color for Fortune 500 company logos. These are the colors chosen by the world’s biggest brands:
- blue: 33%
- red: 29%
- black, gray and silver: 28%
- yellow and gold: 13%
And not surprisingly, most US-based companies have red or blue as their colors, with many red logos also featuring a splash of blue. How American is that?
But wander into a Canadian shopping center parking lot and look around at all the red, red, white, and red logos with just a splash of some other color. It is no coincidence that Canada’s flag is red and white.
If you really want to stand out, you might prefer to pick a yellow, orange, pink or purple hue.
Just make sure that the design and color match your message. This is not something to skimp on; pay a pro to do this well.
Keep in mind that people view color differently in different situations.
The color that might be perfect for a business in one sector might not work well in another.
As the following diagram illustrates, companies in each sector tend toward specific colors, which can help you know when you want to choose your company colors.
Create a Video
Now that you have the fundamentals in place, it’s time to connect with people.
You’ll see your customers in person if you run a garage or corner store.
You’ll see their faces, and they’ll see yours. You likely won’t even need to market online.
But for any business serving a slightly less local clientele, you’ll need to market online, primarily to people who never see your face.
A video will help them get to know you, your personality, and your values.
The video lets people decide, “Yes, these folks seem OK to do business with.”
Does that mean you need to go in front of a camera? Not necessarily.
Even if you use animation, such as a whiteboard, slideshow or photos of yourself and your business, you can do a voiceover and convey a trustworthy and pleasant personality.
The important thing is not that people see you, the individual.
And, they get a feel for interacting with you, the company.
91% of people want to see more online videos from brands in 2023 and beyond.
Video humanizes your brand. It builds trust, boosting brand awareness and generating more sales leads.
87% of marketers say video marketing has helped them increase sales.
Video is the best online surrogate for walking into a store and talking to a human being.
Again, make sure your video reinforces your brand image visually and, more importantly, in its entire focus.
If video helps people connect on your turf, how about connecting on theirs?
People spend so much time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other platforms.
How can you get potential customers to interact with you?
First, don’t focus on selling. They call it “social selling”, but it’s mostly not about selling.
You are at an open party – no invitations, but still a party. You’ll drive people away if you sound too much like a salesperson.
But you can participate in conversations.
And you can create interesting content people like to read.
And you should feel free to boast about successes and accomplishments.
It’s also fair game to announce events, sales or other news.
Remember that the more salesy you appear, the more people you will drive away.
It might be worthwhile if you land a few big customers. But usually, you will drive people away by crashing their party with your sales pitch.
Branding is crucial for any business that needs to attract customers.
If you have competition, you need branding to help people choose your business over all those others.
How you go about it is important. Poor branding won’t give your target market a reason to buy from you.
Good marketing will tell many people why they should be your customers.
The five tips above will help any small business get its branding strategy on the right track.
Maureen McCabe is a small business marketing consultant with brand marketing and management expertise. She has helped many small and mid-sized organizations across North America brand themselves or re-brand themselves for greater marketing success.