There are a plethora of worries to juggle when starting a small business. Between financing, distribution, physical location, and consumer growth there’s no end of dire concerns. These seemingly never ending problems will keep many small businesses from focusing on considerations such as branding, slogans, and logos. It’s not surprising these things fall by the wayside, given the potential problems a small startup company can face, but it is extremely important that small businesses find the time to deal with the issue of branding.
Definition of Branding
Technically speaking, branding is the development of a name, slogan, symbol, image, sign, or combination thereof to represent a product and differentiate that product from similar competition. In practice it is so much more than that however.
Branding in Practice
Branding is made to be the heart of a company. It is a conscious and collective effort to create more than just a simple product; to create a company identity and persona. It sounds somewhat philosophical, but this is what branding is intended to create and bring about.
Many people think of branding as just a simple advertisement strategy, intended to better promote a business’s product and gain greater recognition. But if a company isn’t true to its brand, eventually customers will catch on. Not to mention that when branding is simply used as a marketing tool, the true benefits are lost.
Benefits of Branding
A few benefits of fully incorporating branding, even before a trademark or logo is established, or a company is fully off the ground, are as follows.
- Allows the company to be true to one message, helping build credibility and reliability
- Helps the company run more efficiently, due to the clear and conscious understanding of the company’s goals
- Helps create and foster a concrete identity early on, setting a small business apart from the competition.
When to Implement Branding
Branding should be implemented starting day one. That is not to say that small companies, barely off the ground, should employ expensive logo creations and trademarks. Instead, a new small company needs to work to define itself. The first part of branding is as simple as deciding what you want your company to represent, and what ends they need to work toward.
A brand should be, at the earliest stages, an understood and expressed group of principles practiced by all parts of the company, throughout all stages of production. A company must first internalize a brand before projecting it to the public. By consciously incorporating the brand, not just as a marketing scheme but a true way of living, a company will fully maximize the benefits of branding.
The Importance of Professionalism
It is extremely important for small businesses to project a professional appearance from day one. In line with this, while it is important to have a brand defined and outlined, I wouldn’t recommend jumping too quickly into making a logo along with the trademark or slogan. Doubtless every small business owner is tempted by offers from part time artist friends or acquaintances who offer up a sketch, but professional branding is often worth the money. This will be the core symbol and heart of your company; it’s worth the time and expense to invest in professional help.
Tips for Branding
While considering your company’s goals and character, here are some important factors to remember.
A brand should:
- Deliver a clear and specific message, defining your company from its competitors.
- Aim to foster customer satisfaction and loyalty, by offering clear unique service(s).
- Not try and appeal to everyone. Instead, aim for a target group and stick with it, otherwise you’ll never fully attract anyone.
- Be analytical and honest, with both the company and its customers. Don’t try to promise or entice customers with things you can’t deliver. Know who you are and what you excel at as a company.
- Be unwavering. The longer you can project one clear image, the more it will sink in with the customer.
In today’s economy with all the technological advancements and media proliferation, it’s more important than ever to be open, honest, and clear in branding. What’s more, it is now just as important for small companies as large corporations to practice branding techniques, including logos, slogans, trademarks, and most of all, branding internalization.