Build a Small Business Brand That Sets You Apart

A clear, consistent brand attracts new customers and keeps current ones loyal.

Business cards, business card printing

Building a brand may sound like something only large companies have to think about, but every business should be actively shaping its identity. Your small business brand tells prospects and customers who you are, why they should buy from you and why you’re a better choice than the competition.

Small business owners who invest in brand development boost awareness and increase customer trust and loyalty. Brand building can also drive sales — research shows that more than 50 percent of U.S. consumers consider brand values when making buying decisions.

Strengthen your business brand using the following advice.

Gather Detail on Company Strengths

Talk to your customers to find out why they do business with you and use their insights to refine your brand. Pay close attention to the words they use to describe your company and what they value about it. Gather specifics about the needs you fulfill or problems you solve to identify your unique value.

Your brand should also clearly communicate how you’re different from competitors who offer similar products or services. What do they do well? How are you better? Strengthen your brand messaging by emphasizing these points. For example, you may excel at offering unique, hard-to-get products, or your company may offer top-rated customer service.

Turn Your Message Into Materials

Consider hiring someone to help you with your branding work. This person can take the important points you want to convey and turn them into something that visually communicates your company’s unique identity. Ideally, the resource you hire will be able to stay with you long term and help you evolve your brand as you build your business.

You can also look for freelance designers and copywriters to support your efforts. Check websites like Fiverr and Upwork, or ask other small business owners who they’ve used. Ask any resource you’re considering for samples of branding work, since branding requires skills in both design and copywriting. Also ask any potential resource what process they use to really understand the brand of the companies they help.

Build Your Brand Toolkit

Apply your brand consistently across all your marketing and sales materials. This means using the same family of colors, fonts, images and illustrations on business cards, signage, advertising, trade show booths, websites, social media and all other outreach. Your audience may not consciously recognize your consistency, but being inconsistent will send a subtle signal that your business lacks professionalism.

Important branded elements include:

• Logo: Craft a powerful and professional logo by choosing colors and fonts that reflect and differentiate your business. Avoid finely detailed artwork and subtle colors to ensure your design will pop in different sizes, as well as in print, online and in black and white. Consider how your logo will look in various locations such as on your website and on packaging.

• Business Cards: Reinforce your brand with attractive business cards that remind prospects of your company when you’re no longer face to face. Include your logo, phone number, email address, URL and location. Make your cards stand out by using quality paper stock in an eye-catching color suitable for business card printing.

• Online Presence: Create a fully branded website to reach online prospects. If your customer base is active on social media, find out which platforms they use most and set up branded pages on these outlets.

• Direct Mail: Direct mailers drive an average response rate of 6 percent, compared to just 0.45 percent for email. Observe a few best practices to make the most of these mailings. First, shine a spotlight on the action you want recipients to take. For example, ask them to call your business, visit your website or send an email. Keep text to a minimum to avoid clutter. Your mailer doesn’t need to tell the whole story; instead, leave your prospect eager to learn more. Include a special offer with an expiration date.

Once your brand is where you want it, help your team use it consistently by creating a cheat sheet of brand guidelines. This can be a short document that sums up what your brand stands for and how you’re uniquely valuable. This same sheet should include details about approved logo versions, fonts and color palettes, as well as sizing guidelines and mistakes to avoid. If you work with an outside branding partner, ask them to help you develop this document when they’re creating your brand.