Unless your business has a similar turnover to some of our major brands such as Virgin, Marks and Spencer or Nike not many people are going to know what your logo looks like. So when it comes to branding a small business it’s not all about the logo.
That said, having a brand is important. One definition of the word ‘brand’ is that it is the psychological association that your customers have with your business or your product. So it’s not just about the physical logo – it’s about your whole business, your ethos, your level of customer service, the way you answer the phone… All of these count towards your brand. It’s why people use a chain of coffee shops rather than an independent coffee shop. They know when they walk in they will get the same thing – no matter if the coffee shop is located on your local High Street, at an Airport or even in another country.
So how do small businesses start to create a brand?
Before you can develop your brand identity, you will have to understand what the core values of your business are and what impression you want to give your customers.
It’s no use developing a logo with a smiley face if your staff are unhelpful. Your identity must communicate a personality that suits your customers. If you sell car insurance to women something pink and fluffy might be relevant. If you sell building supplies, pink and fluffy just won’t work (although you would stand out from the crowd!).
Therefore you must also be sure that what you want to tell your customers about your business and your offer matches what your target customer segments want and what you actually deliver.
Branding is all about the impression you make. If you want to succeed, that impression should do two things – it should convey what is special about your business and it should show you in a positive light. It’s about applying your values to everything you do, clearly and consistently no matter what form the customer interaction takes. From an email to an advert, from a telephone conversation to a business lunch – everything you do must be consistent – oh and then you have to get your team to be consistent too!