Growing a business takes time and perseverance. There is no doubt that you’ll need to struggle a lot initially. However, if you want to make sure that your hard work pays off, you really need to focus on branding.
Branding is all about giving your business an identity that helps your target audience recognize you easily. Only if they do so, you can successfully boost your brand awareness and gain mindshare.
Branding includes elements such as your logo, tagline, your website, your social media profiles, and even your customer support. In short, branding is how you make your brand recognizable so your customers know what they can expect from you.
It is an important factor to consider if you’re looking to get more loyal customers. 77% of B2B marketing leaders are of the opinion that branding is essential to business growth.
However, many small business owners dismiss branding as something that only big businesses can afford. But branding doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive. You can build a good brand if you know how to make your brand memorable.
Powerful Branding Strategies for Small Business Growth
To help you out, here are a few branding strategies that will boost your small business growth.
1. Show that You’re Unique
The first part of your branding strategy should focus on what your brand really stands for.
Think of your brand as a person. Which characteristics set it apart from others in the market? What kind of people is your brand meant to appeal to? You need to be able to find clear answers to these questions before you can delve deeper into branding.
Finding a unique selling point (USP) for your products helps to showcase why consumers should buy your products over others. Perhaps your products are eco-friendly, handmade, or cruelty-free? It could be anything really. Find out what makes your brand unique.
Use this uniqueness to form a brand image by incorporating it into your tagline, logo, and other marketing materials. On your website and social media pages, try to highlight your uniqueness when you are filling in the “About Us” section.
Davidoff, a Swiss premium brand of cigars and perfumes, gets this branding strategy right. On their website as well as on social media, they highlight the fact that they’ve been making cigars for over 50 years. They focus on fine quality cigars, which is also reiterated while showcasing the brand. This way, they’re able to set a key differentiator for their brand.
Davidoff may be a big brand, but small businesses can definitely emulate their branding strategy to boost their growth.
Finding a key differentiator can help you stand out in a market that is dominated by your competitors. It can also help you build a brand identity which can ultimately help you with small business growth.
2. Humanize Your Brand
If you really want to connect with your audience, you need to humanize your brand. That means you need to create stories that showcase your values and mission as a brand. With good storytelling, you can get your message across to your audience without coming across as too pushy.
One way to humanize your brand is to introduce your employees to your audience. Familiarize your audience with the people who work behind the scenes. Showcase their lives and their experiences in the company to add a personal touch to your brand.
A great example of this is McDonald’s. Their Twitter page routinely showcases the achievements of their employees and even uses the platform to congratulate them. On their website too, they have photos as well as descriptions of their top level management team.
Adding a human touch also means that you will need to refrain from being too pushy with advertising. Show, don’t tell. Show your customers what your product or services can do for them. Nothing connects with people more than simple stories that are told well.
Airbnb connects with users on Instagram by telling stories that help to spread their brand’s values. They promote traveling by showcasing the lives of different Airbnb hosts across the world. Their posts provide a snippet of their lives and show viewers what to expect when they stay at their homes.
Even when you’re responding to comments, try to use words like “we” and “us.” This helps build a better image for your brand and also gives it a human touch.
3. Build a Community
Identify a niche or an area of interest that relates to your brand’s mission. It could be anything such as sustainability, travel, fashion, or art.
Once you’ve identified a relevant topic, start a conversation to involve other people who are interested in it. This can help you build a strong brand image and increase awareness about your brand.
To build a community of like-minded people, you need to get them engaged in a conversation. Post photos, videos, or GIFs on social media on topics that your brand cares about. You need to make sure that your topic is something that your target audience is interested in.
If your target audience is moms-to-be, you could post an article on health tips for infants. If your niche is travel, post interesting trivia about different locations and share travel tips.
With this strategy, you are likely to attract people who are genuinely interested in your niche. If you can add value to such topics of interest, there are greater chances of them coming back to you. And, if you can achieve that, you can be sure that you’re on the right path to boost your small business growth.
Once you have gathered people who are interested in the conversation, encourage them to interact. Ask open-ended questions, listen to their opinions, and conduct polls to get more engagement.
Conducting events or starting a club is another great option to boost your small business growth.
Nike positions itself as a brand that cares about fitness, so they started their own Nike+ Run Club. It’s a space for runners to connect and train themselves for marathons. This way, Nike gets greater visibility among fitness enthusiasts.
4. Maintain Consistency
To build a strong brand image, your brand needs to be consistent. Be it the fonts you use, the colors, or your messaging, consistency is key. Consistency can make your brand more familiar and more memorable to your audience.
If blue and black are the colors in your logo, stick to those colors when you create banners for social media. Use the same color scheme in your packaging, advertisements, and on social media to make sure your brand is consistent.
If people can associate a certain logo or color with your brand, they will remember your brand more easily. That’s just a step closer to increasing brand awareness and small business growth.
Think of any big brand, and chances are you’ll remember them by their fonts or logos. Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, or Lay’s are some examples of big brands that have used consistent branding over the years.
Maintaining consistency in your brand can even affect your revenue. A study by Lucidpress found that consistent presentation could increase revenue for a brand by 23%. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase if consistency is maintained. This is because consumers are more likely to notice and internalize your brand values.
Big corporations even create their own style guides to ensure that consistency is maintained. Even small businesses should consider doing the same to establish a strong brand identity. Repetition and consistency can really help with small business growth. Your style guides may not be as exhaustive as that of big organizations, but you still need them in place.
5. Create a Voice for Your Brand
Your brand voice is extremely critical to create a good reputation. Your brand voice will essentially decide your brand’s personality and how you communicate with your customers. It should reflect in your Instagram captions, comments, tweets, Facebook statuses, and blog posts. Your brand voice will decide how your customers perceive your brand.
You need to take your audience into account when you decide whether you want your brand voice to be formal or casual.
Take some time to get to know your audience. Use tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to get some information about your audience. You will easily be able to find age, location, and other demographic information about your audience.
If teenagers are your target audience, using a casual and friendly tone may be a good idea. You can even post memes, GIFs, and funny jokes to get their attention.
However, if your target audience is mostly businessmen, it’s probably wiser to keep the tone professional, yet friendly. Tailor your brand’s content and voice according to your audience.
On social media, what you say is as important as how you say it. Maintaining consistency in your brand voice is also important. You need to decide beforehand what’s acceptable and what’s not.
Is your brand going to use emoticons while communicating with customers online? Will abbreviations, colloquialisms, or slang be acceptable? These are some of the questions you need to be clear on to build a strong and consistent voice for your brand.
Take, for example, the content that online clothing store RebelsMarket, posts.
They want to appeal to rebels - people who question the status quo. So the tone in all their social media posts is provocative and rebellious. This type of content resonates with their audience, however, it may not necessarily fit in with a brand that stresses prudence.
What works for other brands may not work for you if your target audience is different. So align your brand’s tone with your audience interests and voice.
Whatever tone you may choose for your brand, remember to take criticism well on social media. If you find that a customer is dissatisfied with your products or services, it is best to respond politely. You may add humor to it, but you need to be able to handle it well.
6. Involve Users in Brand Advocacy
Every brand needs to promote themselves to get the publicity they need. But what’s the easiest and cheapest way to get endorsements? Getting your users to endorse you.
Social media is evolving and so is the concept of content creation. Brands are no longer the only content creators; users are participants in the process too.
To drive small business growth and brand awareness, leverage user-generated content. Ask people to share their stories that include your brand. Encourage people to post videos and photos of your products and services. In the digital age, this branding strategy can be compared to the traditional word-of-mouth publicity.
This way, you can get someone who has used your products to endorse you. And without seeming too promotional, you can advertise your product successfully.
When people post about your brand, you can also gain more credibility along with visibility. At the same time, you can even post more content without actually creating it yourself.
To maximize its effect on social media, create a custom branded hashtag. You can encourage your audience to use this hashtag while posting about your brand. By doing this, you can also ensure that your brand builds more authority on social media.
You could also feature some of the user-generated content on your own accounts for more engagement. It’ll also help you get some diversity in your content. Let your audience shine in the limelight. This will motivate them to create more content for you.
Buffer is a brand that has seen tremendous success with this branding strategy. After they started posting user-generated content on their Instagram handle, their account grew by almost 400% within just one year.
The best part about this branding strategy is that it requires zero effort on your part. You just have to sit back and let the audience do the advertising for you. It’s definitely one of the simplest ways to increase your small business growth.
7. Get Influencers to Endorse Your Brand
For small business growth, it is important to increase your brand’s visibility and engagement. Influencer marketing can help you with both of these things.
Social media influencers are usually experts in their own niches and have loyal fan followings.
They are role models for their followers. Whatever they eat, wear, and use is noticed by their fans.
So if you can get an influencer to endorse your brand, you can create a good amount of hype around your brand. If they agree to review your product, that’s even better. This adds more credibility to your product.
If you want to boost your sales, you could even ask influencers to share promo codes for your products. Ask them to feature a link back to your profile in their post, so you can get more engagement too.
92% of marketers in a study agreed that influencer marketing is effective. However, for small business growth, you need to use this strategy only after doing proper research. Some influencers may be expensive, so you want to make sure you’re connecting with the right influencers.
Check out their content to see how relevant their posts are to your brand and niche. If they post content that is in your niche consistently, they may be able to help you with your small business growth.
Also check out their social media profiles to see how many followers they have and how many likes, comments, and shares their posts get. This will give you a better idea of how many people you can expect to reach through their social media channels.
Swedish brand, FOREO Nordics, was able to utilize this branding strategy effectively to increase their engagement. They collaborated with fashion blogger, Janni Deler, who featured their products on her page. The post received more than 30,000 likes in less than a week.
Keep in mind though, that there are a lot of unreliable and fake influencers out there. So you need to be very careful while collaborating with them.
Grin can make the whole process of influencer marketing easier for you. You can get access to verified information and filter influencers based on niches, locations, or platforms.
After you’ve set up your campaign on Grin, you can discuss branding strategies with influencers. You can send them your products to review or showcase via the platform. We’ve even got a system for payment, so everything is taken care of.
8. Let Your Brand Take a Stand
Your brand will grow only if it can truly connect with your audience. One way to earn the trust of like-minded people is to show them that your brand cares about a social cause. Take a bold stance on any cause that’s aligned with the values of your brand.
By doing this, you will be able to show consumers that your brand truly cares about society. In this strategy, you’re not actively promoting your product, but using your brand to spread a message. This strategy works because your brand gets a chance to showcase how socially conscious you are.
A study conducted by Edelman delved into this aspect of a consumer-brand relationship. The study revealed that 57% of consumers will either buy or boycott a brand based on its stance on social issues. 30% of consumers even admitted to making purchase decisions based on this.
Many brands avoid taking a stance on social issues from fear of offending others who do not share their beliefs. True, everyone may not agree with your stance. But that’s the exact reason why you should take a stance. Your brand can bring together like-minded people with a social cause.
Social causes can help your brand attract people who share similar ideals. And they will be more likely to connect with your brand and stay loyal to it. You need to be careful about tackling social causes though, as a lot of sensitive issues can be involved.
Image via YouTube
Among the list of big brands who have used this branding strategy successfully, Procter and Gamble stands out. Their brand for feminine hygiene products, Always, started the #LikeAGirl campaign to support women’s empowerment.
It was first ideated in 2014, and after its huge success, the campaign was brought back last year. Their video on YouTube has more than three million views. Not just that, it has succeeded in starting a conversation about women’s empowerment on various social media platforms.
Always managed to take a bold social stance and attract those who cared about the issue. WIth it, they were able to get some positive publicity as well.
9. Interlink Your Social Media Accounts
For small business growth, you will need to tap into the power of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are channels in which your brand needs to be present. YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are other options that you may want to consider based on your target audience.
Social media allows you to reach more people and get tell them more about your brand. But if you want to expand your social media presence, you should interlink all your social media profiles.
So, for example, the “About” section on Facebook shouldn’t just have a written description of your brand. You should also include links to your Instagram and Twitter profiles and your website. This gives a call-to-action to those who are interested in your brand. They can immediately find out more about your brand from other social media channels.
Similarly, emails are also a great way to drive small business growth. Whenever you’re sending out emails to your subscribers, make it a point to include your social media handles in it. With this, you are making customers more familiar with your brand. You even stand a better chance of being memorable to your customers if you’re interlinking your social media handles.
This is a very simple way of driving brand awareness and improving social media presence for your brand. Almost all big brands use this strategy consistently for better results.
Branding isn’t only for big brands. It is also important for small businesses. And contrary to popular belief, branding does not require you to spend a lot of money. So, use the strategies mentioned above to boost your small business growth today.
Can you think of any other branding strategies that can drive small business growth? Please share your suggestions in the comments section below.
Brian Mechem is COO and Co-Founder of Grin, a software solution for companies who run influencer marketing programs. Grin's software powers some of the best influencer programs in the world, providing insights on ROI and adding efficiency to the influencer marketing process.