Do small firms need a brand?

If you are a small firm or a sole trader, you could be forgiven for thinking that branding is not for you. “Big names spend money on branding, small companies just get on with the job” is a typical response when I discuss branding with clients, in this post I aim to answer the question why do small firms need a brand?

Even if you they do believe in branding, it may come low on their to-do list after vital day-to-day tasks that keep their customers happy and keep revenue coming in. I get this, so how can I convince them that branding matters – whether they are a window cleaner, a solicitor or you run a local IT support firm?

Brand V Reputation

The first thing I do is to tackle the wording. If you were to replace the word “branding” with “reputation” I might get your attention. You care about your reputation, right?

In this context branding is all about the impression you make. If you want to succeed, that impression should do two jobs – it should convey what is special about your business and it should show you in a positive light.

Of course, many small businesses make a good impression most of the time without ever giving a thought to their brand. But think how much more successful they would be if they gave a good impression all the time.

What I am advocating is that you think about the impression you want to make – your brand – and actively take steps to manage it.

Firstly, you must decide what you stand for – what is your CVP (Customer Value Proposition), who you are aiming at and how you want to position yourself. Then you need to make sure that all aspects of your business are in line with this. Look at my recent post on how to create your CVP.

Creating a brand identity

Your brand identity should be authentic for your business, but it need not be any less professional or engaging. Customers respond to original, independent brands – small businesses with their own personality and an engaging story to tell.

You don’t need to spend much, but paying a graphic designer or affordable branding specialist to create your brand identity can be a shrewd investment. Be armed with examples of branding that you like, but remain open to their ideas.

Test your branding before launch; ask potential customers for feedback and make changes where necessary. Your branding should impress. Your brand identity should ring true with your business and its values. Consider how it will look in every environment in which it will be used. Simplicity is advised. Less is more, so limit your colour and typeface choices.

Apply your brand consistently

Your brand should be applied consistently – from customer call handling, social media posts and staff appearance to signage, stationery and website, etc. Your customer experience should mirror your brand promises. For example, there’s no point having reliability as a part of your CVP if you don’t answer customer enquires promptly.

Customers must be able to quickly distinguish your business and understand what it stands for. If you have employees, make sure they realise the importance of branding (provide training where necessary). Consistency underpins all successful brands.

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