Today small businesses need a strong brand identity more than ever. Despite growing awareness, the average consumer still chooses popular brands that invest a lot of money in branding and hire the best marketing specialists. Although there is an increase in interest in small brands, breaking through is still a challenge for small entrepreneurs. They have no budget, don’t invest in experts and avoid bold decisions.
However, brand image nowadays is “to be or not to be” for small entrepreneurs. It is a life and death situation. Therefore, if you run a business, taking care of how your customers see you can help compete with real giants.
What is branding and why is it important?
Simply speaking branding is the way the others perceive your company. Not necessarily how you show yourself or how you want to be seen. The real art is making sure that the promises made by your brand match the expectations of the recipients and the way they actually see you.
Imagine that you are organizing a party and invite your friends. You know that each person may have a different opinion about you. It may happen that although you consider yourself funny and generous, your loved ones can see you in less bright colors. This means that despite good intentions, your image does not reflect what others think about you.
If you would like people around you to change your mind, you would probably have to shift your strategy and stop telling dry jokes straight from bad sitcoms.
Working on how others see you is time-consuming and definitely not easy. It requires consistency and a proper plan. Many small entrepreneurs forget about it. Today, a good offer, discounts, and advertisements are not enough. Consistent branding supported by strategy can be a key element in achieving success.
Consumers are also ready to pay more for products from brands that they know, recognize and trust. When you buy an iPad, you don’t pay only for the equipment you use, but most of all for what this brand represents.
The better and stronger the brand image, the more it is worth. A brand that is able to get into the consciousness of its audience through consistent actions can count on greater trust.
Popular mistakes made by small entrepreneurs that you should avoid while working on branding
I don’t know why I need branding, but I want it
Branding, visual identity and strategy are popular topics among entrepreneurs. Everyone may seem to talk about it and want it. However, the basic questions you should ask yourself before you commission an audit of your company should be – Why do I need branding? What goals does it help to achieve? What would be a sign that I have achieved success?
Many entrepreneurs order brand identity, but they don’t quite know why. Answering this question is not easy. Most often, you need a thorough understanding of what challenges your business faces and what results you expect. All these answers will help you determine the right strategy that will translate into real results.
I work locally, so I don’t need a branding
Against common opinion, even those entrepreneurs who limit themselves to the local market should take care of their image. Due to the limitations of running a local business, you need to be sure that you establish a strong and lasting relationship with your clients. However, this is not a one-off action.
How others see you is built throughout the years and you should take care of it every day. Thanks to this, you position yourself on the local market as an expert and a trustworthy company. People willingly looking for services that you can offer them will gladly turn to you. Thanks to this, you will be recognizable in your category and become the first choice for potential customers.
I don’t have a budget for branding and marketing
This is a problem for many small businesses. However, sometimes the budget that could be spent on branding and marketing activities is spent on other things that seem more important.
However, investing in brand image and marketing can not only improve your visibility but also really increase revenue. This is one of the best investments that will serve you in the long term.
Therefore, look at your budget again and see if there is any room for hiring a specialist. Otherwise, you can use free materials and tools to help you get started.
Building a brand identity is too expensive for me
Despite what some people think, building an image does not have to be expensive. Even a small investment can benefit your business, but you need to know how to approach it.
The brand image is primarily about standing out from the others and building relationships with the recipient
To do this, we don’t have to have enormous budgets for promotion. There are tools that are at your fingertips and will not ruin your wallet. Social media is one of them. Thanks to Instagram or Facebook, we can build our customers’ loyalty completely free or for very little money.
I am looking for a cheap graphic designer who will do anything for me
Building a brand image is not only a matter of nice graphics but above all, a thoughtful strategy, choosing the right tools and in-depth knowledge to whom you offer products and services. A multidisciplinary designer can provide you with nice projects that will please you but may not necessarily be able to find the answer to the key issues related to your business.
Read also: Key brand identity elements for your company
The brand designer will be able to recognize the needs of your customers, skillfully define the profile of an ideal customer, highlight the mission and brand values that reflect the needs of the audience. That’s why the cheap, multidisciplinary graphic designer may not be the best direction.
I don’t need a specialist to implement my brand identity
Every day I work mainly with small and medium-sized companies that are just starting their adventure with business or are looking for changes that can improve their position on the market. Many of them ask me to design a visual identity, website logo that would ensure their quick success.
After a few weeks or months of working together, the materials are ready and the entrepreneur takes matters into their own hands. Usually, this is associated with the desire to save money and the misconception that nice images are all they need.
However, it often turns out that after the end of the design phase, the client quickly forgets about the principles, strategy, and reasons why they ordered branding in the first place. The implementation is carried out by a person with poor technical skills who has nothing to do with design or marketing. Projects that were to create a coherent image are now slowly falling apart and melt away like ice-cream in a wafer.
My advice: If you really care about building your image, if possible, hire an expert. A skillful selected team will help you stay on track. No budget is no shame. Everyone who runs their own business must skillfully manage their investments. However, an investment of employing a person who is familiar with designing and marketing will pay you more.
I know my company best
Sometimes we are so close to our problems, challenges and daily routine that we stop seeing what others will see right away. The role of the brand designer is to take a fresh look at your business and discover what you may not see yourself.
A good brand designer will be able to listen and ask questions that will help you look at the company from a different perspective. Finding strengths and weaknesses, checking what will attract customers and make them decide to use your service.
Inviting someone from the outside to join the team who has experience in brand identity design and can look at your business with a fresh eye can help you get to the root of the problem.
I already have clients, so I don’t have to invest in the branding
The market is constantly changing, the needs of your customers are changing, the competition is planning new moves, and you are stuck in warm slippers sipping fruit tea. You feel safe and you don’t need to invest in your image. You have your dedicated customers who have been coming back to you for years.
Stagnation in business is like a slow death. It is dangerous. Everyone who runs a business must take into account the changes that are taking place both on the market and in the minds of consumers.
Building your brand image is not just for new and potential customers. It’s a way to show those who have been with you for years that you care, you listen to them, that you know them. Investing in brand identity means making it comfortable to contact you again. It is also a sign of professionalism. You show that you are a trustworthy partner.
I do not have to follow the guidelines (Consistency, consistency!)
When you decide to implement the design, remember that consistency is crucial. If you think the exceptions are acceptable and you will publish a photo of your cat instead of iconography that reflects the nature of your brand (primarily because you love your cat and want others to love it too), you may find that you send signals to your audience – signals that either will not be noticed might be misinterpreted or rejected.
It is worth remembering why we decided to invest time and money in building a strong brand.
Having your own business means constant adjustments, improving and finding new ways to please your audience. Investing in building a brand that will stand out and reflect your customers’ needs will benefit you long term and help your company grow.