Our brains can make strong connections to things that shouldn’t logically align. That’s why a swoosh-like checkmark can make millions of people think of shoes. Or why five rings can denote a global sports competition. This is, of course, due to branding.
For large corporations, branding is expected. But for small businesses, this is one aspect that’s often neglected. Here’s why it shouldn’t be.
1. Increased Perceived Value
If you’ve ever built a website on Squarespace, you know the default website tab logo is a black cube. Every time you see this default cube on a website, you can infer it’s a small company that doesn’t have resources to put toward brand recognition and marketing.
It’s a two-sided dilemma. Not only does branding help a company, but not branding harms your company. It changes your perceived value.
2. Foundational Base for Marketing
Branding and marketing are two outlets for your business to get creative. Some companies rely on outrageous marketing campaigns to draw traffic to their website. Others work a more sophisticated angle and attract a smaller but higher-paying customer base.
When a company builds their brand, they’re really asking fundamental questions like:
⦁What is one phrase or symbol that represents the company?
⦁What values does the company strive to uphold?
⦁What emotions do you want the symbol to generate?
These types of questions make branding and marketing an infinitely recursive formula. There are no “right answers,” there are just “better answers.”
3. Stand Out Amongst the Crowd
If you sell computer software, how are you going to compete against Microsoft or the other thousands of software brands that don’t come to mind immediately?
Or, what if you’re a small pizza chain looking to franchise? Papa Johns, Dominos, and Pizza Hut have already crowded the marketplace.
The answer is competitive branding.
Branding is how people will pick you out of the crowd. It’s your own banner, raised high by the marketing campaign you’ve rolled out. But the flag you wave must be specific to your company.
For the pizza chain, you need branding that targets the pizza-loving market. If you’re an HVAC company, you need HVAC branding that links specific emotions to heating and air conditioning.
To figure out what yours should look like, investigate the competitors in your space. Map out the top players, the mid-tier companies, and the small businesses. See how each of these groups target customers with their brand and marketing. This will help give you an idea of how to structure your own.
4. Give Customers Something to Take with Them
Isn’t it curious how a giant yellow M can make you want to eat burgers and French fries? It’s this deep psychological connection that branding and marketing attempt to bridge. When a customer enjoyed your product or service, you want them to connect their experience with your logo and take the logo with them (everywhere they go).
5. Build Trust with the Customer
Small businesses are great, but they do pose a degree of uncertainty. If you go to a local fast-food joint, you’re not sure what quality of food you’ll be served. If you go to Taco Bell, well, at least you know what you’re getting.
This repeated service helps to build trust with the customer, and that trust is then connected with the company’s brand.
6. Cohesive and Clean
Designing a clean logo fleshes out your company. Even for businesses who want the product or service to stand on its own, not having the right brand around it can paint the wrong picture.
Similarly, if you have a great product but your website looks like it was built in the dot-com era, it can turn away a potential customer. There’s even a percentage of people (mostly millennials and below) who will refuse to use your website based solely on aesthetics alone.
Creating the Brand
By now, you can see why having a brand for your small business is important, but this hasn’t touched on how to create that brand. The best advice is to take that first step forward, flex your creative muscle, and start drafting ideas of what you want your brand and logo to look like. Let the ideas flow naturally and don’t force them. Your brand should reflect your business and your values. Try to let those guide you.