Basics of Branding: Getting Started as a Los Gatos, CA Small Business Owner
As a small business owner, much of your focus may be on sales, securing investment or running day-to-day operations. For this reason, the issue of branding can get swept under the rug, especially as logos, packaging or social media profiles may not appear to drive revenue, but the truth is that a company’s branding has a lot of implicit value and is often the difference between success and stagnation. Read on for branding tips from the Los Gatos Chambers of Commerce.
What Is Branding?
Branding refers to your company’s external identity - the way it interacts with, speaks or appears to the world. The way you craft brand image is through voice, values and design with each factor contributing implicitly to its success in the market and feeding off one another. When we think about branding, we often think about major corporations Coca Cola or Nike, for instance. But the importance of branding runs right the way down and exists in every business entity from a humble market stall to a burgeoning tech startup. In these early stages, you’ll find it’s as much about how you act as it is about the logo on your products.
How Does Branding Affect the Consumer?
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of branding in affecting consumer relationships. Recent studies show that 77 percent of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to others after having a positive experience with it. Effective branding recognizes the desired target market and successfully mirrors their values, voice and appearances, endearing them to the company’s products/services. At the startup and scale-up stages, branding helps you to establish the loyal, high-value customer base that you need to expand and appeal to wider markets.
Tailoring Your Brand
If you want to cater to a specific demographic, you need to first understand their spending habits. Take the time to carry out market research - looking into competitors, your existing customer base and work to determine which demographic is most receptive to the services/products that you offer. You can then work with the necessary professionals. A branding consultant can help you to craft values that you feel are true to your company and that will resonate with your target demographic. A copywriter can help you to shape a lexicon, writing style and voice that conveys your values. A designer can help you to shape aesthetics that are in line with all of the above and that can help you to stand out on a shelf or an e-shop.
When you work with a consultant or design professional, you’ll want to have processes in place to ensure clear communication. Look for a free online PDF editor that will allow you to virtually mark up a file. For instance, if your designer sent a mockup of your website’s new home page, you could circle areas that you have questions about, highlight things you love, and put virtual sticky notes to clarify some of your markings. And both you and your contractor will have the drafts and notes on file in case there is any confusion.
Once you know what your brand represents, how it talks and how you want it to look, you can begin to execute these ideals in an external-facing capacity. Digital marketing is an essential rite of passage for every small business looking to push their brand into the spotlight (and is necessary so that you can gauge how well you’re resonating with your target market). To begin with, try to generate organic interest via social media and draw upon your existing network of associates, business partners, team members, friends and family.
While digital marketing is essential for promoting your company, don’t completely forget about traditional methods. Business cards are still a great way to leave a lasting impression, and they can help give you and your company an air of professionalism. You can easily create business cards using online tools with pre-made templates with a selection of images, text, color schemes, fonts and more.
Branding can be tough to get your head around, and it won’t always strike you as an immediate concern, but getting this step right while you’re still a small business is crucial for developing a loyal customer base and securing long-term profitability. Don’t be afraid to work with a professional to get things just right, but use digital tools to ensure your communication during development goes smoothly. Once your brand is in place, you’ll see your business start to flourish.
Membership in the Los Gatos Chambers of Commerce offers invaluable benefits to entrepreneurs in our community. Join us today!