Did you know that consistent business branding can increase your revenue by as much as 33%?
A strong brand is more than just a memorable logo or catchphrase.
Successful business branding involves a variety of tools and practices that can help differentiate your products or services from your competitors.
Navigating all of the aspects of branding can be frustrating - especially for small businesses. This is why we prepared an ultimate guide to business branding.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about creating a brand that will help your business stand out, form a strong bond with your audience and, ultimately, boost your revenue.
Table of Contents
What Is Business Branding?
To answer that question, we must first define brand.
A brand is the DNA of a business, product or service. It’s a unique set of features that come together to explain your identity to your customers.
These features go beyond the obvious elements, such as names, logos, slogans and colors. The goal of a strong brand is to represent the idea behind your business that your customers will connect with.
Business branding is the process of cultivating that idea and communicating it to your target audience. Branding your business involves a variety of tools and channels, from your brand identity and visuals to your website design and ad campaigns.
Business Branding Glossary: Key Terms To Know
When it comes to branding your business, you must first understand the terminology involved.
Here are the key 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.
Why Is Business Branding Important?
Business branding is a never-ending process that requires you to have an intricate knowledge of your products as well as your customers.
Your brand serves as a point of contact between your products or services and your customers.
Because of that, business branding is essential to the growth and success of your business.
Here are a few additional reasons why successful business branding is so important:
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 General 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.
Corporate branding 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.
5 Key Steps To Take When Branding Your Business
Now that we’ve got all of the strategies covered, let’s dive right into the five key steps to take when branding your business.
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: Define Your Brand
77% of consumers prefer brands they share values with. (Vivendi)
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 #3: Design Your Brand’s Visual Identity
A signature color can make your brand 80% more recognizable. (Reboot)
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 #4: 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 #5: 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
3 Small Business Branding Tips
Business branding can be especially difficult for small businesses.
Small and medium-sized enterprises often don’t have the same resources as large corporations to hire branding experts and invest in multiple channels.
Nevertheless, the small business branding process will include the same steps and concepts we’ve described above.
To make this guide even more relevant to small businesses, here are three actionable tips to consider:
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.
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.