An average person sees between 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements daily, highlighting the need for effective business branding. Businesses need branding to create relationships of trust with their audiences, effectively convey messages, and differentiate from the competition.
This comprehensive guide explains business branding, its best practices, types, and benefits; keep reading to discover how to develop a memorable and compelling brand.
Table of Contents
What Is Business Branding?
Business branding is the process of cultivating that idea and communicating it to your target audience. Branding your business involves various tools and channels, from your brand identity and visuals to your website design and ad campaigns.
A brand is the DNA of a business, product, or service. It’s a unique set of features that explain your identity to customers. They go beyond the prominent elements such as names, logos, slogans, and colors. The goal of a strong brand is to represent the idea behind your business your customers will connect with.
Business Branding Glossary: Key Terms To Know
When branding your business, you must first understand the terminology involved. Here are the critical branding terms you should show:
Term #1: Brand Identity
Your brand identity is what makes your business, product or services unique. The elements of brand identity help consumers differentiate one business from the next. From the color palette you use to the typography, the logo and the name of your business, these elements should be creative and especially unique.
Think about Coca-Cola with its iconic red and white color scheme or Dove with its famous campaign for real beauty. These two brands represent completely different products. What they have in common, however, is a unique identity that makes them stand out from their competitors.
Term #2: Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is the measure of how well-known your brand is within your target audience. It is vital to keeping your existing customers and to branching out and attracting new customers.
Imagine yourself as a consumer who’s in the market for a new smartphone. If the prices and technical specs were the same, would you prefer to buy one from a well-known company like Apple or Samsung or from a brand that you’ve never heard of?
This is why building brand awareness, even outside of your usual target audience, will allow your business to grow.
Term #3: Brand Positioning
Brand positioning is the process of designing your brand to occupy a specific place in the mind of your customers, relative to your competition. Reaching the target audience of your brand is possible only if you manage to position your product or service offering successfully.
The process of brand positioning is similar to plotting a mathematical function in a coordinate system. The axes represent the key characteristics of your product or service and the degree of these characteristics define the coordinates of your brand in the consumers’ minds.
Term #4: Brand Equity
Brand equity shouldn’t be confused with brand value. While the latter refers to the financial worth of a brand, equity is a measure of a brand’s perceived worth.
Brand equity is the psychological or social value that your consumers attach to your products or services. The greater your brand equity, the more satisfied and fulfilled your customers will feel when interacting with your brand.
Term #5: Brand Management
Brand management encompasses all the terms and practices we described above. It’s the process of cultivating, maintaining and growing your brand.
Brand management touches upon all elements of your brand from tangible ones, such as visual identity, to intangible ones, such as awareness and positioning.
Nine Key Steps When Branding Your Business
Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to business branding, implementing these nine strategic steps can effectively position you for success:
- Step #1: Define Your Audience
- Step #2: Research Your Competition
- Step #3: Define Your Brand
- Step #4: Choose Your Brand’s Name
- Step #5: Create a Compelling and Memorable Slogan
- Step #6: Design Your Brand’s Visual Identity
- Step #7: Give Your Brand a Voice
- Step #8: Choose the Channels for Your Business Branding
- Step #9: Consistently Use Your Branding
Step #1: Define Your Audience
We’ve mentioned it several times before and we really can’t stress this enough: All branding efforts must start with a well-defined audience.
Even if you develop the most sophisticated, comprehensive, creative branding strategy, it won’t have any effect unless it’s targeted at the right audience.
So, before even considering your brand identity and branding channels, take a step back and ask yourself: who is your business for?
There are several ways of defining your target audience, such as:
- Developing buyer’s profiles
- Conducting target market research
- Taking inspiration from your competition
Once you have a clear vision of your target audience in mind, you will be able to build a branding strategy that will resonate with your ideal customer.
Step #2: Research Your Competition
Knowing your biggest competitors is an important part of marketing research.
Recognizing and analyzing your competitors' branding will provide you with several benefits. You will know how to differentiate your brand from theirs and make it stand out in a crowded marketplace. This way, you will attract the audience looking for something original and different.
Here are a few tactics that will help you identify the main competitors:
- Conduct a Google search using keywords related to your business. Look at the search results and identify competitors offering similar products or services.
- Search your products on social media channels and forums to find out which similar products customers chat about and recommend.
- Talk to your customers and ask about their experiences with other businesses offering similar products or services to get insights into your competitors' strengths and weaknesses.
- Join industry associations and attend events to network with other businesses in your industry and learn more about your competitors.
Step #3: Define Your Brand
Once you’ve settled on who your target audience is, you should define why they are your target audience. Determine what will make your brand appealing to these specific consumers and what will help compel them to become your customers.
There are several things you need to define in order to have a clear idea of what your brand stands for:
- Mission statement
- Value proposition
- Core values and beliefs
Once you are able to define these, it will be much easier for you to target the audience that shares your mission, values and beliefs.
Step #4: Choose Your Brand’s Name
Part of knowing how to create a brand for your business is choosing its name and visual elements. Although your brand is more than its name, choosing it is a crucial part of business branding strategy. The brand’s name will influence how your audience perceives it.
Still, it will also affect your logo, website, visual elements, domain (check the domain name availability before deciding on a name) and marketing efforts.
Ideally, you want a name that is as unique as possible and hard to imitate and confuse with someone else mistakenly. Copying famous brands' names or playing with words in order to deceive your audience is both ethically unacceptable and can lead to legal consequences.
If you’re starting but plan to expand your business someday, keep your name broad and don't tie it to one particular product, although it might be popular now.
Step #5: Create a Compelling and Memorable Slogan
“Just do it.”
“Because you’re worth it.”
“Maybe she is born with it. Maybe it's….”
You know who. There is a 99% chance that you know all three brands that stand behind these unforgettable slogans. A catchy and memorable slogan can increase brand awareness and get your business noticed and remembered. To make a big impression, use a slogan as a tagline on your social media profiles, website header and custom business cards.
When creating your slogan, keep it short, memorable, and impactful regarding brand recognition. Remember that you can always change your slogan if you discover new marketing opportunities — you can even have multiple slogans running at the same time.
Step #6: Design Your Brand’s Visual Identity
Solid brand visual identity will not only make you stand out from the competitors, it will also make your products instantly recognizable. Something as simple as a key brand color can make a big difference.
What do such radically different companies as IKEA, MasterCard and Ferrari have in common? Each one of these brands has a color scheme or a signature color that is universally associated with the brand.
But color is not the only element of a brand’s visual identity. Here are other things to consider:
- Logo and signature imagery
- Brand typography
- Packaging and stationery design
Compiling all these elements in a comprehensive brand book will make it easier for you to communicate your brand consistently across multiple channels.
Step #7: Give Your Brand a Voice
According to Sprout Social, some of the key factors that make brands stand out are:
- Memorable content
- Distinct personality
- Compelling storytelling
Brand voice plays a major role in all these three aspects. The voice and personality of your brand should reflect your values and beliefs and resonate with your target audience.
Brand archetypes are the foundation for brand personality building. Your brand voice guidelines will depend on the exact industry your business operates in. Regardless of that, it should be unique, memorable and should represent your business accurately.
In order to craft a unique brand voice, consider the following things:
- Supporting visuals
Step #8: Choose the Channels for Your Business Branding
Once you’ve developed the fundamentals of your branding strategy, it’s time to consider the channels for it.
The key to successful business branding across different channels and platforms is consistency. It is important that your visual identity and voice are similar no matter the channel.
Regardless of your industry, consider communicating your brand via these three key channels:
- A website
- A blog
- Social media pages
Step #9: Consistently Use Your Branding
Brand consistency is essential because it helps establish brand recognition and customer trust. When customers see consistent branding across all touchpoints, such as website, social media, packaging and advertising, it reinforces the brand's message. It makes it easier for them to remember and recognize it. Consistency also helps to differentiate a brand from its competitors and establishes a sense of professionalism.
Eight Small Business Branding Tips
To make this guide even more relevant to small businesses and their branding needs, here are three actionable tips to consider:
- Tip #1: Build a Local Following
- Tip #2: Seek Partnerships With Other Small Businesses
- Tip #3: Keep Your Branding Simple
- Tip #4: Understand Your Business Identity
- Tip #5: Identify Your Audience
- Tip #6 Communicate With Your Customers
- Tip #7 Ensure Consistent Brand Messaging
- Tip #8 Create a Long-term Branding Approach
Tip #1: Build a Local Following
If you're a small business, your local community is your greatest ally. Before launching a more large-scale branding strategy, make sure to build and maintain a local following of your business.
Interact with your clients as much as possible, encourage conversation, participate in events and try to give back.
Tip #2: Seek Partnerships With Other Small Businesses
Teaming up with other small businesses in your area for co-branding efforts could be a great way to boost your brand awareness and attract new clients.
Tip #3: Keep Your Branding Simple
Your branding doesn’t need to be overcomplicated, especially if you are a small business. Get to know your audience and keep your branding simple and targeted toward them.
Tip #4: Understand Your Business Identity
You must understand who you are as a business and why you sell your product. Use your branding wisely as an opportunity to connect with potential customers and exchange valuable information.
Without storytelling and emotion, simply selling something for profit won't make customers support you, especially in the long run. You need to establish a connection between your business branding and your products or services and consider how your product will make a difference in someone else's life.
Tip #5: Identify Your Audience
To make your marketing efforts more successful, identify your target audience — people most likely to buy your products or services. Failing to identify your audience can waste time and money on ineffective strategies. Focusing on a specific market group is usually more effective than setting broad goals. By understanding your target demographic and their pain points, you can develop content and target ads with the right marketing message.
Tip #6 Communicate With Your Customers
Knowing your target audience is essential to generate brand recognition that resonates with the right people. However, to truly understand how your customers perceive your business, you must communicate and ask them questions.
Customer feedback will help you identify the positive aspects of your business, areas that need improvement and the satisfaction of your employees. Be bold and ask for customer feedback; it can help improve your business and drive growth. Conduct surveys and be open to negative feedback — while it can be tough to hear, it can also be a valuable learning experience.
Tip #7 Ensure Consistent Brand Messaging
Inconsistent branding can confuse your customer, which is something you don't aim for. To build brand awareness, ensure you have a consistent message across all channels, including your website, social media profiles and more. The first step to achieving consistency is establishing clear brand guidelines and standards for your written communications and visuals. Pay attention to your brand's tone, voice, logo, color palette, typography and imagery.
Tip #8 Create a Long-term Branding Approach
Building a solid brand takes time and effort. Seeing what worked for your competitors might be tempting to imitate, but you must stay focused on your long-term goals. Be careful about copying what other businesses are doing, especially if their tactics don't match your brand vision, objectives and storytelling.
Just because something worked for someone else doesn't mean it will work for you. Also, be wary of following the latest trends in your industry, as they may not align with your long-term plan and could hurt your brand in the long run.
Why Is Business Branding Important?
Business branding and brand marketing strategy is a never-ending process that requires you to have an intricate knowledge of your products and customers, as your brand stands as a mediator between them. These reasons will clearly demonstrate the importance of branding:
- It Gives Your Products a Personality
- It Can Make Your Business World-Famous
- It Will Help You Connect With New Customers
Reason #1: It Gives Your Products a Personality
Even if you offer the best products of services in your industry, it still wouldn’t be enough of a reason for your customers to relate to and identify with your business.
That's where business branding comes in. It gives your business an identity, a personality or a story for your customers to fall in love with.
Reason #2: It Can Make Your Business World-Famous
Remember the examples of Coca-Cola and Dove we mentioned? Both are now world-famous businesses because of thoughtful branding.
Memorable branding will make your business equally memorable. If done effectively, it can make people all over the world recognize and appreciate your products or services.
Reason #3: It Will Help You Connect With New Customers
As long as you have a clear vision of your target audience, you will be able to connect with them through branding.
One of the goals of business branding is to match your business with an audience that shares your beliefs, ideas and values. If you keep up a consistent branding strategy, connecting with that audience won’t be difficult.
What Are the Types of Business Branding?
Depending on the exact industry you’re in and the nature of your business, you will have to take a specific approach to branding your business.
Business branding can be classified into four general types:
Type #1: Product Branding
Product branding is the most self-explanatory type of branding. Its goal is to market a tangible product offering to a specific audience. In order to be effective, product branding should go beyond a catchy name or slogan.
When branding a product, you should aim to present it to your audience not just as a tangible good, but as a part of the values and ideas your business represents.
BMW is a great example of successful product branding. Their product offering is more than just luxury cars. It’s cars that embody the spirit of the top-notch performance that BMW is known for.
Each one of their vehicles represents their philosophy of delivering “Sheer Driving Pleasure” - a slogan that has remained unchanged for several decades.
Type #2: Service Branding
Services can be tricky to brand — after all, they are intangible and cannot be s evaluated in advance by new customers. That’s why service branding relies heavily on past experience and customer feedback.
Airbnb is a very fitting example of service branding. They based their entire marketplace system on the element of community, helping people who seek accommodation to find suitable hosts. With their value proposition, they show that they understand the main problems that travelers often encounter and they offer a solution to those problems.
Type #3: Corporate Branding
Corporate branding involved cultivating the brand image of the organization itself, rather than its products or services. These efforts are often targeted at employees and shareholders, instead of customers.
The goal of corporate branding is to establish and communicate the philosophy of the company. The most essential elements of corporate branding are company values and the mission statement. Setting these up properly will allow you to communicate your business philosophy successfully.
Starbucks is a great example of thoughtful corporate branding. While they are a globally-known coffee chain, their mission goes way beyond ensuring that people get their caffeine fix.
By stating that their mission is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time,” Starbucks shows that the philosophy of their brand is to inspire people and help build communities and coffee is the avenue for that.
Type #4: Personal Branding
Personal branding is similar to corporate branding, except that its focus is a single individual and not an organization. Famous experts, politicians and celebrities are the types of individuals who commonly engage in personal branding.
Whatever their line of work may be, their name acts their brand. And just like corporate organizations, they want their name to represent something more than just their work.
One of the best examples of personal branding is the digital marketing expert Neil Patel.
By highlighting his achievements and connecting with his audience via a variety of channels, he managed to establish himself as a household name within the digital marketing industry.
Business Branding Takeaways
Consistent business branding is one of the essential aspects of any business’ growth and survival.
Solid branding is important because it will give your business a personality, help you find new customers and it can even help make your brand world-famous.
Depending on the exact industry you’re in, you should take one of the following approaches to branding your business:
- Product branding
- Service branding
- Corporate branding
- Personal branding
The step-by-step process of developing the branding strategy of your business is as follows:
- Define your audience and the consumers you want to connect with
- Define the mission, values and philosophy of your brand
- Design your brand’s visual identity
- Give your brand a voice
- Determine the channels you will communicate with your audience through
By following these steps, you can develop a comprehensive branding strategy for your business that will increase the exposure of your products, help you win new business and boost your revenue. Alternatively, you can always reach out to a professional brand management company to do the job for you.
Business Branding FAQs
1. How do I create a brand for my business?
Follow these steps to successfully brand your business:
- Identify your target audience.
- Research your competitors.
- Define your brand.
- Choose your brand name.
- Come up with catchy slogan.
- Design your brand’s visual identity.
- Give your brand a voice.
- Choose the channels for your business branding.
- Consistently use your branding.
2. How much does it cost to create a brand?
The price for creating a brand varies from $10,000 to $50,000.
The cost can vary widely depending on size of the business, the industry, the scope of the branding project and the expertise of the branding agency you choose to work with.
Generally, brand creation can involve market research costs, logo design and slogan creation, website development, packaging design, advertising and more.
3. How can I brand my business for free?
While building a strong brand usually involves some cost, there are still ways to start branding your business for free. Here are some tips:
- Defining your brand values and mission is the foundation that will help guide all future branding efforts.
- Social media platforms are free to use and can help you build your brand.
- Creating valuable content related to your industry and sharing it on your website, blog and social media will establish your expertise and build trust with potential customers.
- Attending networking events, connecting with other businesses and influencers in your industry and collaborating on projects will increase your visibility and build your brand through word-of-mouth.
- Optimizing your website will make it easy to navigate, visually appealing and clearly communicates your brand message.
Building a solid brand takes time and effort, even if you do it for free. But by focusing on consistent messaging, engaging with your audience and providing value, you can start building a recognizable and trustworthy brand without a big budget.