Investing in brand marketing is a priority for most business owners and marketers – and with good reason. Over 60 percent of consumers in the U.S. buy products and services from brands they know and trust.
If your small business isn’t a recognizable brand, it’ll be difficult to attract customers or beat your competitors. You’ll spend a lot of money on advertising campaigns without seeing any tangible return on investment because your target customers don’t know your brand.
However, building a brand and raising its awareness requires skill, strategy, and time. A simple branding mistake can undo a whole decade’s worth of effort in minutes or make it harder for your brand to bloom.
To set you on the right path, we’re unpacking common brand marketing dos and don’ts.
DO: Start Branding Early
When you’re starting a small business, branding isn’t usually high on your priority list. You might have a sales and marketing strategy, but that’s not enough to help you craft a brand around the business. Most small business owners wait until their businesses have gained traction to start thinking about branding.
Although it’s never too late to start branding, starting early gives you the best chance of achieving organic brand growth. It enables the business to grow alongside the brand image you’re trying to cultivate.
Another benefit of thinking about branding during the startup phase is you’ll make informed decisions about the business’s name and logo. When you have an idea of the brand you’d like to build, you’re more likely to choose a name and logo that aligns with that vision.
DO: Know Your Customers
Knowing your customers is crucial in brand marketing because the goal is to create a brand that customers love. This knowledge will influence your decision in a couple of ways.
Your choice of visual elements, such as color palettes, for instance, will depend on who your consumers are. That’s because various generations of consumers respond to, or are affected by, color differently.
If your business’s main target market comprises boomers, you’d want to choose neutral colors that evoke a sense of “maturity.” On the other hand, a business that’s targeting Gen Zers can find great success with a vibrant color palette.
Your brand values will also be influenced by your customers. 80 percent of consumers want to buy from brands that reflect their values. This is to say, if a consumer strongly believes in environmental conservation, they’d be more inclined to do business with green brands.
DO: Maintain Brand Consistency
There are several channels through which a business can market its brand. These include storefronts, in-store designs, websites, blogs, social networks, and company merchandise, such as promotional t-shirts.
It’s important to ensure your brand has the same look and fee regardless of the marketing channel. Avoid using variations of your logo, especially if you’re a young, growing brand. Even established brands like Nike rarely use variations of their iconic logos as it can lead to confusion among customers.
Brand consistency makes it easier to push brand awareness and recognition. It takes 5-7 brand impressions for the average consumer to memorize a brand, so if you’re not consistent, it’s going to take way more impressions for a customer to memorize it.
DON’T: Ignore Customer Experience
In a bid to develop a brand identity and increase brand awareness, it’s easy to give too much focus to the visual details. While these are the most important, customer experience is also key. It goes a long way in influencing how your customers “feel” your brand.
Customer experience comprises intangible ways your customers interact with your brand. How are they treated when they come to your physical store, for example? If you have online operations, does the website deliver a great user experience?
A company can develop a positive or negative reputation solely based on customer experience. If you’re that company with a phone line that never goes through, for instance, it doesn’t matter how visually pleasing your logo is. Customers will always know your company as the one with a phone line that never goes through!
DON’T: Leave Out Your Employees
Employees can be great brand ambassadors, but many small businesses don’t know how to convert their employees into ambassadors.
Using employees as branding agents isn’t just about encouraging them to wear company T-shirts when they’re away from the office. Even if you incentivize them to rock company swag, there won’t be much effect if they aren’t saying good things about your company.
You get employees to speak positively about your brand by involving them in the brand-building process. You must also ensure the brand reflects its values.
DON’T: Fail to Hire a Branding Specialist
You’re the owner of a small business that’s running on a tight budget. Do you do DIY branding or hire a branding specialist? You’ll likely take the DIY path to save money, but it isn’t the best move.
Branding requires a unique set of skills and it takes time, both of which you may not have. Hiring a digital marketing company to take care of your brand marketing might cost you in the short term, but the long-term value is phenomenal.
Brand Marketing Done Right!
In a competitive marketplace, it’s not just enough to build a business. You also need to build a brand that can attract and retain customers. This calls for a heavy investment in brand marketing, and with these dos and don’ts, you know what to do and what to avoid.
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