Guide to Small Business Branding & Brand Identity

What is Brand Identity?

Brand identity consists of all the visible elements of a company’s brand on products and marketing materials. Logos, colors, designs, trademarked phrases and more all serve to identify and distinguish the brand for customers. Consistent use of brand identity with consistent marketing & messaging are key to maintaining and increasing sales.

Branding is critical to a company’s success regardless of its size. Ineffective business planning, which includes marketing, has beenidentified as one of the top four reasons small businesses fail. And small business branding is the core of your marketing strategy, so it needs to be created before you market your business.

Your company’s brand is more than a visual representation of your organization. It is an aspect of every interaction you have with consumers to the point that it creates the feeling produced by all the parts of your product or service. 

Your brand influences how existing and potential customers perceive your organization. It sets you apart from the competition. It makes it easier to attract quality employees. And it determines your ability to generate revenue and grow. A consistent brand presentation across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23 percent. 

Failure to establish a brand limits your company’s chances of success. It results in inconsistent messages across all your communications. This confuses your audience and reduces their trust in your organization. Plus, it stops you from differentiating your product or service in the marketplace to show potential and existing customers why they should select your offering over others. So, it is essential that you develop your company’s brand.

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9 steps to create, cultivate and share your brand

Now that you know the importance of small business branding, let’s look at how to build, develop and communicate your brand identity in the marketplace without straining your budget. This will help your business become known, trusted and desirable in the eyes of customers and prospects.

Step 1: Create your buyer persona

It’s important to go beyond identifying your target market–the group of consumers or businesses most likely to buy your products or services. Start by creating a detailed profile of your ideal customer. This profile is also known as a buyer persona. The information you learn about your customer influences your brand and marketing plans. A well-defined persona makes it easier to create content that is useful to your customers. This ability makes attracting and converting them to buying customers more effortless. 

Here are some of the questions you should answer as you create your buyer persona:

  • Who are they?
  • How old are they?
  • What is their income and level of education do they have?
  • Do more of them tend to be of one gender?
  • What are they looking for in the companies they do business with?
  • Which social platforms do they tend to visit?
  • Which modes of communication do they prefer (text messaging, email, video, blog articles or some other format)?

Step 2: Define your brand

Create a detailed description of who your company is by stating your values and your mission. List how you plan to treat your customers and how you will speak to them. For example, what tone will you take with them — casual, playful or, formal? Select a color scheme, logo, and font that exemplifies your company. And make a listing of the pain points your product or service solves for your audience. Then, determine what differentiates your company from the competition. This step is critical. It enables you to separate your company’s products and services from the competitions’. Otherwise, customers will tend to choose based on price.

Once you’ve gathered this information, create a brand style guide and playbook. Here you can include all details relating to your brand. This resource promotes the consistency of branding you need. Your employees will always know how to communicate across all mediums or platforms. Otherwise, you risk inconsistent branding, making your audience feel they don’t know you and weakening their trust in your company. Ultimately, this hurts your bottom line.

Step 3: Make your brand visible to the world

Now it’s time to use your logo, color scheme, and font on all communication generated by your company. Use them on business cards, letterhead, signage, product packaging, uniforms, your website, and presentations. Then start creating content using your brand’s voice so you attract your ideal customers. This allows potential customers to get to know, like and trust your company so they want to do business with you.

Step 4: Leverage content marketing

Creating and/or sharing relevant content is an excellent way to strengthen your branding and amplify your brand voice. This content establishes your company as a subject matter expert. And creating useful content shows your audience that you know and understand them. This attracts potential customers and builds trust.

Your blog needs to address your customers’ most asked questions. Your articles should help them become more familiar with your company. They should also help solve customer problems and advance their buying decisions. Brands that blog generate 67% more leads. Offer website visitors the opportunity to sign up to receive blog updates is a simple way to capture leads and build relationships with your audience.

Step 5: Get social with your audience

Create business pages on your customers’ favorite social platforms. Add links to these pages on your website accompanied by an invitation for them to follow you on social media. Doing this allows you to engage them by sharing valuable content.

You can create a dialog with them on social platforms by asking questions and responding to their comments. You will be helping them get to know your company’s brand and you’ll learn more about your customers’ preferences. This makes continuous improvement in your products or services effortless.

Social media is also an excellent way to encourage word-of-mouth advertising. It encourages existing customers to commend your company for excellent products or services. This is valuable and helps consumers who are performing online research before buying.

Step 6: Create partnerships

Team up with non-competitive businesses offering complementary products or services to yours. Your partners should share the same target market and buyer persona. This minimizes your marketing investment while growing your business. Plus, it allows you to share your brand message with a larger audience.

Step 7: Share customer stories

Tell stories about satisfied customers and their happy experiences with your company. Share what they love about your company. This magnifies your brand from the perspective of your audience. It’s also like receiving referrals or word-of-mouth advertising. You can post these on your website as case studies or customer testimonials. Present them as a customer quote or story with an accompanying photo. Video testimonials are also quite popular.

Step 8: Build brand loyalty

The purpose of creating a brand identity for your business isn’t only to make your company recognizable to potential customers and attract business. Your small business’ brand needs to extend beyond the purchase, so customers want to buy from you again and tell other people about your product or service.

Your brand encompasses all customer experiences before, during, and after the buying process to develop long-term brand loyalty. These dedicated customers become your brand ambassadors, spreading the word about your excellent product or service.

Step 9: Revisit and revise

Creating your company’s brand identity isn’t a one-time exercise that you complete when launching or establishing your business. It is a process that needs to be repeated on a routine basis and updated as your business evolves. This keeps your brand aligned with your vision, mission, goals, and marketplace so it is always relevant to your audience.

Don't leave brand identity to chance

Building a brand identity directly impacts the success of your small business. Don’t leave it to chance. Take the time to do the research, create buyer personas and define your brand. Then use it consistently for optimum business success. And be sure to repeat this process routinely to keep your brand fresh and relevant.

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Small Business Resources

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Small Business Podcasts
Books for Business Growth
Small Business Mobile Apps
Top Entrepreneur Forums
The 30-Second Elevator Pitch
Perfect Voicemail Greetings
Add Click-to-Dial To Your Website
What is VoIP? How Does it Work?
Guide to Small Business Software
What is a Virtual Phone System?
How to Share a Team Phone Number
Toll-Free vs. Local Business Number
Learn the Parts of a Phone Number
Inspirational Small Business Quotes
Mastering the Art of the Cold Call

A special high five to Margot Howard for her outstanding research and contributions to this article. We love working with and supporting like-minded entrepreneurs who are passionate about business success strategies. Thank you Margot! ❤️

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