Branding is one of the most vital components of any business enterprise, large or small, retail or b2b. A powerful brand approach gives you a significant advantage in increasingly aggressive markets. However, what exactly does “brand” mean? How does it have an effect on a small business like yours?

Basically, your brand is your promise to your buyer or customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and differentiates your product/service offerings from your competition. Your logo is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people think you are.

Are you the lone innovator in your industry? Or the experienced and reliable one? Is your product the high-quality, overpriced option or the high-quality, low-priced option? You can’t be everyone, and you can’t be everything to everyone. Who you are should be determined by what your core customers need and what they need you to be.

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging, and promotional products, all of which should incorporate your logo, speak to your brand.

Brand strategy and equity

Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you intend to communicate and deliver your brand messages. Where you promote is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate, both visually and verbally, is also part of your brand strategy.

Strategic and consistent branding leads to strong brand equity, thus the value created for your employer’s services or products that allows you to charge more for your brand than similar unbranded products would. The most obvious example of that is Pepsi vs. an unknown brand of soda. Due to the fact that Pepsi has built strong logo brand equity, it can charge more for its product, and customers will pay that better price.

The delivered value inherent in brand equity traditionally comes in the form of perceived personal attachment. As an example, Addidas associates its merchandise with superstar athletes, hoping that customers will change their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Addidas, now it’s not just the shoe features that promote the shoe.

Defining your brand

Defining your brand is similar to a journey of finding a business identity. It can be difficult, time-consuming, and uncomfortable. It requires nothing less than answers to the following questions:

What is the objective of your company?

What are the advantages and characteristics of your services or products?
What is the perception of your current and potential customers of your business?
What traits do you want affiliated with your business?
Do the research. Research the wants, habits, and desires of your current and potential customers. Don’t depend on what you think they assume. Enter their minds and find out what they think.

Because defining your brand and developing a brand approach can be tricky, consider taking advantage of information provided by a nonprofit small business consulting organization or small business improvement institution.

Once you’ve narrowed down your brand, how do you get the word out? Here are some easy and proven suggestions:

Create an extremely good logo. Place it anywhere and everywhere.

Write your brand message. What are the key messages you need to communicate about your brand? All workers should know the attributes of your brand.

Incorporate your brand. The brand extends to every aspect of your business: the way you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your email signature, everything.

Create a “voice” for your business that reflects your brand. This voice must be applied to all written communication and included within the visual imagery of all substances, online and offline. Is your brand accessible? Be outgoing. Is it formal? Be less formal. You understand the essence.

Develop a slogan. Write a memorable, meaningful, and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.

Design templates and create brand standards in your advertising materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel at all times. You don’t need to be elaborate, just consistent.

Stay true to your brand. Customers may not return to you or recommend you for future business if you waive that brand promise.

Be consistent. This suggestion is intentionally saved for last because it involves all of the above and is the most essential suggestion I can give you. If you can’t be consistent, any effort to create your brand will fail.