Why do small businesses often overlook branding and why is this a mistake? How can branding help your small business? What are the 5 ways you can brand your small business?
In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks about 5 effective ways to brand your small business.
In This Podcast
- Overlooking branding
- Why a brand is powerful for small businesses
- 5 Ways to brand your small business
It goes far beyond your visual identity, it incorporates your office envitonment, the way your employers interact with your clients and the way you interact with your clients.
Many start-ups often overlook branding and dismiss this as only something that large corporations with big budgets do. Branding may seem irrelevant when you’re trying to meet day-to-day logistics, but it remains a commonly overlooked source of competitive advantage.
Branding is not about creating a great logo and coming up with a catchy name, but simply the process of strengthening your brand that defines who you are, what you stand for, and what you can offer to your audience. It is about how customers view you as a business.
Why a brand is powerful for small businesses
Powerful brands attract and engage your target audience.
- They help you retain profit
- Tell a brand story to your customers
- Differentiate you from your competitors
- Generally make expanding your business a lot easier
5 Ways to brand your small business
While your budget may be limited, branding doesn’t have to be an expensive process. Here are 5 simple yet effective ways to brand your small business:
1. Define who you are
- What is your company’s value/mission statement?
- What do you want your brand to be known for?
- What is your USP (unique selling point)?
- How do you want your customers to describe you?
- What perceptions do you want customers to associate with your company?
Whether you’ve thought through the above or not, people are going to make up their minds about you regardless. They are going to use certain words to describe your business or have certain feelings associated with your service.
When deciding on things like your company name and logo, be sure to stay original. Originality is the spark that creates audience awareness and allows customers to form a perception of your business.
Over and above being original, make sure your logo resonates with your target audience.
Target audience + USP = original logo design
Consistency is crucial to building a strong brand that customers can remember. You need to promote your brand by maintaining the same tone of voice throughout. Being authentic in your branding helps maintain consistency. Establishing a set of brand guidelines at an early stage ensures that everyone you work with applies your brand identity consistently.
Reinforcing your brand guidelines will strengthen your message and drive customer loyalty, giving you strong brand equity.
If you struggle in the creative area, it may be best to hire a professional to develop your brand rather than do it yourself. Branding is a critical long-term investment and although it may cost you now, the end result will be worth it.
5. Deliver on your promise
Once a business has come up with a brand with a distinctive logo and tagline, they often forget about the brand promise. Strong and established brands deliver and provide great customer experience, therefore one of the most important things to do is ensure you stick to meeting your customer’s needs and maintain the values that you stand for.
- Robert A. Belle on How Creativity Equals Your Identity | MP 30
- Basic Terminology You Need to Know | MP 15
- 5 Benefits of Outsourcing Design | MP 24
- The Psychology Behind Branding | MP 29
- Email Sam at email@example.com
- Design Services With Sam
- Apply to work with us
Meet Sam Carvalho
Sam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.
She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!
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Marketing a Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Beta Male Revolution, Empowered and Unapologetic, Imperfect Thriving, or Faith in Practice, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho, where you will discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand your business, visit www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign.
Hi there. Thank you so much for joining the Marketing a Practice podcast today. I’m so glad you’re here. Today I’m going to be talking about effective branding for small businesses, and how to go about this, and why it’s important. In these hard times, many businesses are looking for ways to stand out, for ways to continue growth, and for ways to attract more of their ideal client. Many startups often overlook branding and dismiss this as only something that large corporations with big budgets do. Branding may seem irrelevant when you’re trying to meet day to day logistics, but it remains a commonly overlooked source of competitive advantage. And I think now is a great time to either establish your brand, or to improve upon your branding.
So, I’ve spoken about this before, but branding isn’t just about creating a great logo and coming up with a catchy name. Instead, it’s the process of strengthening your brand that defines who you are, what you stand for, and what you can offer your audience. It’s about how customers view you as a business. And again, it goes far beyond just your visual identity. It incorporates your office environment, the way your employees interact with your clients, the way you interact with your clients. It really is your entire business as a whole that encompasses your branding. So why is a brand powerful for small businesses? Powerful brands attract and engage your target audience. They help retain profit, tell a brand story to your customers, differentiate you from your competitors, and genuinely make expanding your business a lot easier. And that’s something that I’ve seen even just within the private practice realm, is private practice owners who started their practice in their name, with minimal branding, and then get to a point where they want to grow into a group practice and they then, you know, four or five years down the line need to establish a brand and need to actually decide what sort of branding they want to move forward with. So really, you know, establishing a proper brand from the get-go can make that transition and that expansion later on a lot easier.
So as startups, you need to realize how your target audience works, and not how you would like them to be. And I think that’s a very important statement as well. And something to consider in the beginning is, who is your target audience? Obviously, your branding needs to be centered on them. And it’s not necessarily what you would like them to respond to. I think a lot of times you want to take the easier route when it comes to branding. And you’re hoping that your customers are going to respond to your ads on Facebook because that’s the platform that you are most comfortable with. But are they in fact spending more time on Instagram? So really kind of getting into the details, and figuring out where you can reach your target audience, and if it’s a place that you aren’t comfortable in then possibly thinking of outsourcing that to somebody else, because ultimately, you want to reach your ideal client, and it doesn’t help to be in denial about that.
So, understanding your customers only adds to your credibility and assures them on what kind of service they can expect to receive from you. Branding is one of the most powerful factors that can create a unique selling point. So, if you think about even something like hairdressing, I had a hair appointment today and I’m very happy with my hairdresser. And it’s always a touchy thing for me because I’ve had some very bad hair mishaps in the past, so I’m quite particular about who I go to. My hairdresser, I find, is excellent, but I will admit that she isn’t in the best spot in town. You wouldn’t necessarily know that she’s a great hairdresser by just driving past, whereas my previous hairdresser was in a much more glamorous setting in a shopping center. But she actually ended up disappearing without giving me a heads up. Anyway, that’s a whole other story. But point being, they’re both great hairdressers, and I entrusted both of them with doing a great job with my hair, but their branding is very, very different. The one, you know, is very clearly all about kind of class and giving off a luxurious brand, whereas the other is more tucked away, the signage isn’t so great. So, from the front, without knowing any more about them, you would straightaway assume that the one with the more luxurious brand, the better market positioning, would do better than the one with a less established brand, if that makes sense. So, you may be just as good as another therapist down the street, and you may think, how are you going to make yourself stand out from them? And even if you guys have the same skill set, even if you’re serving the same market, if you take a unique route with your branding, and if you’re stronger in your branding, then that actually becomes your unique selling point. And that’s what helps you stand out from your competitors.
So, while your budget may be limited, branding doesn’t have to be an expensive process, and that’s why I’ve come up with these five simple yet effective ways to brand your small business. So, number one is to define who you are. So, as I mentioned before, branding is so much more than just your visual identity. It starts with why you’re doing this and who you are as a business. So here are some questions that can help with this. What is your company’s value or mission? And create statements for that. So, what are your values and what is your mission? What do you want your brand to be known for? What is your unique selling point? How do you want your customers to describe you? And what perceptions do you want customers to associate with your company? So, keep in mind that whether you’ve thought through the above or not, people are going to make up their mind about you, regardless. They’re going to use certain words to describe your business, or have certain feelings associated with your service. So, don’t you want to be in control of the narrative? It’s a similar situation with celebrities who choose to set up interviews with the paparazzi in order to try and be in control of their own narrative. The fact of the matter is that whether you put thought or consideration into your branding, people are going to make perceptions of you either way. So, I would say, rather be in control and decide from the get-go what you want those perceptions to be. So, think through these questions, write down your answers so that you can refer to them later. And this is also what I always preach on is having a brand style guide. And that’s something that I can help you with or any other designer can help you with. And it’s basically just putting together the answers to those questions in a visually appealing format. You can just write it down or type it up on your PC but obviously, having a brand style guide is a nice way to present that information and to have on hand to give to other designers you may work with down the road. So, number one is to define who you are.
Number two is originality. So, when deciding on things like your company name and logo, be sure to stay original. And I know that there are a lot of clichés, or common names and symbols and icons that private practice owners tend to strive towards, and although that’s not necessarily always a bad thing, because those things are associated with counseling or with a sense of calm. But really try and strive to be original when it comes to your name and your logo. Originality is the spark that creates audience awareness and allows customers to form a perception of your business. So, how can you stand out from the sea of counselors that are out there? I mean, you don’t have to spend a lot of time researching counselors to realize that a lot of their branding is similar. So, it shouldn’t even take much for you to stand out. But how can you stand out? So over and above being original, make sure that your logo resonates with your target audience. So obviously, you know, we’re seeking originality but to a point – not if it’s going to deviate from attracting your target audience, which again, is front and center of branding. So, I came up with this little formula, which I feel makes up an original logo design, and that is: your target audience plus your unique selling point equals an original logo design. So, saying that again, your target audience plus your unique selling point equals an original logo design. So really thinking through who you’re trying to reach, what is your unique selling point, and then putting that together in a brief for your designer to come up with an original logo that communicates that and appeals to that kind of audience.
So, originality doesn’t necessarily apply to just the design side of things, as I’ve said. Where else can you be original in your branding? So those of you who listen to the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, will know that he often tells the story of having a mini fridge in his counseling practice when he was still busy counseling. And that was kind of his way of doing something a little bit different, of creating the kind of office environment that he wanted. And so, in that mini fridge he would have cool drinks, or I think even like iced coffees or things like that, that people in the waiting room could sip on while they were waiting to be served. And so that’s just an example of a way in which you can bring in some originality into your counseling office, over and above bringing originality into your branding.
So, number three, the third way to improve your branding, or to establish an effective brand for a small business, is through consistency. So, we know that consistency is crucial to building a strong brand customers can remember, and I actually, a few weeks ago, received a great compliment in terms of my Instagram. So I’ve worked hard to maintain consistency in my Instagram, and you can go and check that out and see for yourself, but you’ll see that I’ve incorporated a color scheme, and I’ve incorporated just a general template of kind of doing my posts. So, I have a color block in between each of my posts and it’s all kind of organized. And a friend of mine actually said to me that she knows now when she’s scrolling through a feed, when she comes across one of my posts, she knows that it’s me before she even looks at the name. And that was the greatest compliment I could have received because that’s exactly what I’m striving for. And that’s what we should all be striving for when it comes to our branding, is that consistency and establishing that brand loyalty. And it can be a bit boring at times. And you may feel the need to switch things up, but don’t. Really just stick with that consistency. It’s more powerful than you realize and even if people are following you and they’re not converting, you don’t know when the time will come when they will need to contact you and then you will be top of mind because they’ve been seeing your posts for months now. So, you need to promote your brand by maintaining the same tone of voice throughout. Being authentic in your branding helps maintain consistency.
So again, when thinking of your branding, and what kind of brand you want to go for, don’t go for something that isn’t you. So, it’s going to be difficult to maintain consistency if the brand you’ve created doesn’t resonate with who you are. And I think this is especially true for counseling because it is such a personal business. It’s centered around you and your skill set. And this can be scary and I’ve spoken about this in previous episodes where it can be vulnerable putting yourself out there, but that’s going to only add to the authenticity of your brand and it’s going to make it easier to keep your brand consistent, because your brand voice is essentially your voice. So, establishing a set of brand guidelines at an early stage ensures that everyone you work with applies your brand identity consistently. And again, that’s going back to the importance of the brand style guide. So, reinforcing your brand guidelines will strengthen your message and drive customer loyalty, giving you a strong brand equity. And if at this point, you are getting really confused with all these terms, I’d encourage you to go back and listen to my terminology episode, or even the episode where I discussed the psychology of branding. I kind of dig into all these terms there. But otherwise, feel free to just look it up quickly. But yeah, I don’t want to lose you based on terminology. So, we’ve covered three ways in which you can increase the effectiveness of your branding for small businesses, and that is to define who you are, to be original, and to maintain consistency.
The fourth one is to outsource. So, I mentioned this a little bit earlier but if you struggle in the creative area, it may be best to hire a professional to develop your brand rather than do it yourself. And I know that when you’re setting up your business, this is a touchy point because you have a budget to stick to and you really want to try and bootstrap it as much as you can in the beginning. But again, I just want to emphasize to not go that route when it comes to setting up your brand, especially with your logo. So, if you want to bootstrap with some of the other design areas like flyers or social posts, or some of the other design elements in the beginning, that’s fine, but don’t bootstrap it with your logo. I really want to recommend that you spend, or you just invest that money in a decent logo because it will stand you in good stead for the years to come. Branding is a critical long-term investment and although it may cost you now, the end result will be with it. So, I’ve also got an episode on the benefits of outsourcing if you want to give that a listen.
And then the fifth way is to deliver on your promise. So once you’ve set up your brand, once you’ve created this original brand and you know what kind of voice you want to stick with, then it’s important to deliver on the message that you are sending out there. So, businesses, this is where they often fall short. They spend time coming up with a distinctive logo and tagline, but then they forget about the brand promise. Strong and established brands deliver and provide great customer experience. Therefore, one of the most important things to do is ensure that you stick to meeting your customers’ needs and maintain the values that you stand for. And that’s where your brand name will kind of follow through into your office environment and into the way that you interact with your clients. So, sit your team down, make sure that everybody is aware of the brand that you’re trying to attain, that they’re aware of your core values, your core mission statement, things like that. Make sure everybody has a copy of that. Make sure everybody you employ, that you run them through who you are as a brand, what your business personality is, what you guys stand for, and things like that, so that it is consistent throughout your team and throughout your business.
So, I hope that was helpful, just those five ways on how to establish an effective brand for small businesses. If you’re driving, or you’re on the road running, or on a bike, or anything like that, while you’ve listened to this episode, then we’ll have those five points down in the show notes and you can just go give it a read afterwards. Thanks again for listening and I’ll see you next time.
Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want to have a print file designed, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign. Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon.
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests, are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.