Building a brand means more than having a company name and logo. Your brand is your business' identity, it's how your customers think about you, and how you think about yourself. Wearing a custom t-shirt with your logo printed front and center is a great brand visibility technique, but building a brand requires more than just displaying your logo.
For small businesses with a small budget, building a brand may be low on your to-do list, but your brand is your business' reputation, and there are plenty of low-cost ways to build an amazing brand.
Here are the top six questions to ask to improve your small business' branding.
1 - How Do You Talk About Yourself?
Your brand is how you define your business to yourself, to your employees and to your customers. It's not about the products or services the business provides, it's about how you do these things. Your brand encapsulates your beliefs, your values and your personality. It defines who you are to your customers and how your company behaves.
Think about the companies you love, whether they're small local brands or large multinational brands. Most likely they stand for something bigger than their product. Almost always, they connect with their customers on some kind of emotional level.
When building your small business' brand, think of three key adjectives that describe the things you say about your business and how your customers talk about you. We've seen many companies create custom t-shirts that simply state their brand values - "Made with Love" for example, and have the brand logo on the sleeve or the back yoke of the t-shirt.
2 - What Do You Do That Others in Your Industry Don't?
This is your opportunity to tell your brand's story and set yourself apart from the competition. While having a catchy company name and a logo that stands out are important to building your visual brand, you'll need to have a unique differentiator to help people recognize your brand out of the many others offering similar products and services. Maybe you're focused on being eco-friendly, or maybe everything you sell is hand-made.
3 - What Do Your Customers Say About You?
Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that they control their brand. But the truth is, how your brand is perceived is really determined by your customers. One of the best ways to engage with your customers and build your brand is to create a community of followers who support your business. Facebook Groups is a great way to create an exclusive community for your brand. With Facebook Groups, you can invite your active supporters and customers to participate in this online community. Engage your community by asking them what they think of you!
4 - How Do You Say What You Have to Say?
The language you use in your branding message is key to showing off your brand personality. Speaking to your customers in a consistent tone across all channels of communication is key to finding your brand's voice. If you use a serious tone on your website but post slang and quirky jokes on your Facebook page, you'll quickly confuse your customers. Also consider how you communicate with your customers in person. Are there certain key phrases that you use? Your name, logo and tone of voice should consistently represent your brand. Being consistent with your tone of voice gives your clients familiarity with your brand and helps to build trust.
5 - Is Your Brand Recognizable?
Custom promotional products, such as custom t-shirts or custom pens are a great way to build brand awareness. When selecting a promotional product to represent your brand, be sure that it speaks to the needs of your customers. A security company may want to give out a custom branded flashlight, for example, while an accounting firm may decide on custom pens. Carefully designed custom promotional items will help your marketing efforts while boosting your brand power.
6 - Are You Being Authentic?
The worst thing a small business can do is build a brand that is not honest and authentic. Customers will see through any dishonesty and will be turned off. If your brand preaches customer service, make sure that you are living up to that in your day to day service. If your brand is "casual", don't show up to a customer meeting in a suit and tie. When building your brand, be sure that you're not just following a trend, but that you're being yourself.