Why your small business needs branding and how to build it
If you’re a startup or a relatively small business, then it’s understandable if you don’t yet place a high value on the importance of branding for your future. But branding isn’t just a huge buzzword reserved only for the like of giant corporations. It is just as essential for SMEs.
No matter what stage of growth your business is at, it’s important to perfect your branding from top to bottom, but knowing where to start can be tricky.
To help you out, Love Energy Savings has rounded up advice from experts across the creative branding industry on the first things to think about, why it’s important, and some things to consider as you move forward.
What is branding?
In a nutshell, branding is a business’ way of identifying who they are and what they do. It represents your values and the true core of who your business is.
Having a strong brand also helps you to build a good reputation. Whether you are starting out and have no reputation at all, or are looking to improve the profile you already have, a successful brand can help. It’s all about building expectations about your services or products, which in turn can encourage your staff to exceed them as they are motivated to live up to the name you have nurtured.
Take Love Energy Savings, for example. Earlier this year, we underwent a rebrand. At the start of June, we introduced Lenny and Lulu; our two new lovebirds. The very essence of our company stems from the fact that we really do love what we do, especially when it comes to saving businesses money on their energy bills and educating everyone on just how quick and easy it is. Lenny and Lulu show that Love Energy Savings are different from every other energy comparison website out there. They help to bring our personality to life, and they’ll certainly become more recognisable as we move into the future!
Why is small business branding important?
The most successful companies keep branding at the very heart of everything they do. It is a way of defining your business’ identity; understanding exactly what your business is about, what it looks like, sounds like and how it appears to your customers. Not only will it keep your customers coming back for more, but it will also ensure that your employees feel more at home and loyal.
We can give you a few more reasons why branding is important for your small business…
- Recognition - When you see some of the most famous logos in the world, you instantly know the name of the company, what they do, and what they stand for. Whilst you may not achieve that status straight away, by having a strong brand you will start to build a reputation that people will recognise you for.
- Trust - Speaking of reputation, appearing professional and consistent in your branding improves your credibility amongst customers.
- Being found - If you sell offline as well as online, having a well-established brand helps potential customers to find you wherever they may go.
Brian Lonsdale from Repeat Logo, added why SMEs shouldn’t overlook branding:
“Logos, brands and products are important as they build deeper connections and associations with consumers. In many cases, consumers hold a brand’s identity close to their hearts. Branding can often be personal as we often choose a brand that we like.”
Logos - a good place to start
Your logo must represent you; tell people who you are, show the type of company you are, and communicate your values clearly all in one. It’s a tough balancing act to perfect, but it can be done.
Here are a few things to keep in mind…
- Name and tagline - We may be stating the obvious, but make sure the name and slogan are clearly visible. That way your customers will remember your name and it becomes far easier for them to talk about you to other people.
- What do you do? - Does your logo represent the services or products you provide? Your potential customers should be able to know they are in the right place at a single glance.
- Show your personality - Maya Angelou once said “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” How do you want your customers to feel when they see your logo? Home in on one particular emotion to avoid confusion, whether it’s fun, approachable or emphasising the fact that you’re experts in your field, otherwise you may be forgettable.
Brian from Repeat Logo talked about the importance of your logo - it’s your first chance to make a good impression:
“A logo is often the first thing a customer will see whether it is on your website, on promotional material or at your physical business space, therefore your branding impact must be instant. As visual beings, 90% of the information transmitted to our brains is visual, so connecting with your consumer through design should be considered when your business is establishing a branding strategy.”
Finding your brand's voice
Some of the biggest and most well-known and liked brands out there all have one thing in common: they have a very distinct voice. For example, a luxury watch brand like Rolex is known for being classy and upmarket. Red Bull is daring, adrenaline-spiking and exciting. On the other hand, one brand who does social media particularly well, is Innocent; their Twitter is fun, cheeky and they write the way they speak. As for us, our lovebirds are friendly, lovable and the perfect partners, working together to share the good news about lower business energy prices.
Libby Bearman, CRO Manager of Browser Media gave advice on finding your brand’s unique tone of voice:
“Finding your brand’s voice starts with understanding how your audience is talking about what you do. This could be as simple as asking for feedback from customers, and will reveal the type of language that really resonates. It helps you understand what to communicate, as well as how to communicate it. Honesty, personality and a little creative flair go a long way.
“Writing copy is an art form, and doesn’t come naturally to us all, but there is room for science too. Take the time to test different phrases or wording in marketing collateral to see what your customers prefer, so they’re more likely to enjoy your campaigns. If they enjoy your campaigns, they’re more likely to engage with your brand, and if they engage with your brand, they’re more likely to convert.”
Here are some top tips for defining your brand’s voice:
- Be honest - Consumers are smart. They can spot a fake brand and phony tone of voice a mile away, and they will have no problem with visiting your competitor instead of you.
- Tell a story - People love a good story, especially one that is full of human interest. Tell the tale behind why you started your business; maybe it was from a place of true passion or a family-run business that started 50 years ago? Dig deep, and you’ll find it.
- Be relatable - Think of your company as a living and breathing person, and that way you can start to create a brand as something that people can really relate to. Don’t be afraid to show your personality; that way you can appeal to their emotions.
Keep things consistent
Nowadays, there are so many different marketing avenues to consider. There’s your storefront (if you sell offline), your online presence, any marketing materials that you produce, and especially social media. Social media is where the majority of your customers will interact with you, and where you can interact with them. Twitter and Facebook and other avenues are no longer seen as a “nice to have”, but are essential marketing and branding tools.
Gavin Bell, founder of Blue Cliff Media, believes that in this day and age, brands shouldn’t neglect social in their branding efforts:
“When it comes to branding yourself on social media, either as a personal or company brand, it’s hugely important to first of all determine what your voice is. This means sitting down and determining what sort of voice you want to portray: corporate, fun, happy, inspiring, etc.
“It’s then hugely important to keep that voice consistent across all social platforms. You need to have a consistent representation of who and what you are. If your tone is different on your Facebook to your Twitter, what message does that send out? It takes, on average, a minimum of six to seven brand touches before someone will remember your brand. Every time someone comes across your brand, you’re leaving them with an impression. Of course, these people are potential customers; you want to make every brand impression a positive and memorable one.”
A perfect branding isn’t something that you can achieve overnight, but it is something that you should put a great deal of thought into. Before you begin, ask yourself some of these questions:
- What makes your business different from competitors out there?
- What sort of value do you provide that they don’t?
- What kind of benefits do you offer and how can they be linked to emotions?
David Dews from creative branding agency, Speed, sums the first stage up perfectly:
“The steps to developing your perfect brand position are to start with some soul searching. Ask yourself some hard questions about why your business exists, what is its purpose in the world and why do you want it to continue to exist and evolve? Involve your key members of staff, as you want them to join you on your journey. Ask some difficult questions to your customers and be prepared for some home truths.”
Your answers to these questions will be a great place to start, and over time they will help to define everything that you do and establish a strong identity. While larger companies are, of course, able to spend more on their branding efforts, it doesn’t have to break the bank! Slapping your logo on everything you produce just won’t cut it anymore; your voice and message must be strong, consistent, and connect with your target customers. Nail this and you’ll have them coming back for more!
Here at Love Energy Savings, our speciality doesn’t just lie in helping business across the country switch energy suppliers. We’re also dedicated to helping small businesses expand and grow, providing advice and help along the way! If you need more advice on branding for your business, or need to speak to us about anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly and expert team today.