Business branding can be a time-consuming process, but using your time effectively can help build customer trust and boost revenue for your small business. Building up the authority of your small business gives you a reputation that can turn directly into sales.
Branding your business is a crucial step in building customer trust, driving sales, and increasing revenue. Adding a branding level to your marketing strategy can help your small business recruit potential customers and employees based on a buildup of trust and customer loyalty. Many entrepreneurs choose to promote themselves as the face of the business, rather than to promote the business outright. There is a fine line, however, between effective business branding and outright narcissism.
Cheryl Conner of Forbes instructed her readers in an “Ask an Expert” session: “It becomes very clear to readers and listeners when an entrepreneur’s brand is more about themselves than their business and they will gradually (or quickly) be sliding away.” Conner also focused on the importance of an entrepreneur’s ability to emphasize characteristics of others when building a brand that reflects directly back on the personal characteristics the entrepreneur wants to promote.
This strategy allows the consumer to fill in the blanks about who you are as a company without the need to blatantly state all the great things about your business. Consistently and effectively blogging or a regular newsletter are still great tools for small businesses to brand their businesses and themselves. But creating content that is interesting and that specifically targets your audience is paramount—particularly when your business has frontline employees who do the bulk of customer interactions and can become the “face” of your organization. Your branding strategy determines who, what, when, and where you communicate with potential business partners and customers, which can turn directly into sales for your business.
Why Your Existing Branding Strategy May Not Be Working
Consistency is key with branding, and Larry Alton at Entrepreneur notes that a large amount of inconsistency in branding comes from a lack of strategy at the beginning of any branding campaign. Small business owners will also see problems with their branding if they are limiting their social channels. The Internet provides numerous platforms for branding opportunities, each with a specific set of users.
Alton also notes that while a portion of your branding is an individual effort, the entire strategy should not focus solely on you. He states, “You need to borrow authority from other thought leaders and more established institutions around the web.” He suggests hosting interviews with other industry leaders, which boosts the branding strategy for you and your interviewee and adds a greater level of credibility to your business.
The branding process is constantly fluctuating, and dips in effectiveness are completely normal. The determining factor is how you manage these dips to turn them around and continue pushing your business forward. Another key aspect of effective branding is an understanding of what your customers are looking for in a partner, which requires extensive industry research.
Entrepreneur also advises small business owners to leverage the expertise of a not-for-profit small business advisory group or a Small Business Development Center to better understand market dynamics. Endeavors such as this not only require an investment of time, they may require an infusion of capital. If you already have your business’s capital tied up elsewhere, it may be time to consider a capital advance. This approach can give your business the flexibility you need to forge new markets or channels, as well as uncover (and keep) new customers.
Industry Tips for Branding Your Small Business
Entrepreneur offers some tips about effective branding to help small business owners:
- It isn’t for everyone. Effective entrepreneurial branding – becoming the face of your business – involves constant interaction with people to bring awareness to your business or product. This process may feel more comfortable for people who are more naturally outgoing or extroverted. If you are uncomfortable with a large amount of social interaction, then becoming the face of your business, even if it can help expand, may not be for you.
- There is no formula. There is no guarantee that actions x, y, and z will have any specific outcome, and it is up to you to determine the branding techniques that best suit your business. You may find that it takes some time to create the formula that works best for reaching your customers.
- There are no shortcuts. Building a reputation for your business takes time, and there is no one trick that is going to help expedite that process.
- Branding is not done completely online. Yes, social media is a crucial part of branding, but networking through face-to-face interactions physically attaches you to your business or product rather than simply a persona on a screen.
- It doesn’t have to be tied to another strategy. Branding does work within larger content marketing strategies, but it does not have to. Implementing a branding strategy on its own can still prove effective for boosting revenue.
- You get what you put in. Make sure you have the time and dedication to put into your branding strategy; otherwise it will be ineffective and simply become a distraction from the larger goals of your business.
Moving forward with your branding strategy requires time and energy. Getting your business noticed by a larger audience and building up a positive reputation helps boost your credibility as a business and will drive more customers your way.