When most of us think of branding, the world’s giants spring to mind.
But, just as frequently, there are kings of branding hiding right under our noses.
Many small businesses have built successful brands that would put their larger counterparts to shame.
These lessons from the world of small business can help any organization to better build its brand.
Define your brand
Many larger organizations are weighed down by their history.
They think that, because they’ve been in business for so long, their “brand” is self-evident.
The years devoted to building a relationship with audiences shouldn’t be discounted.
But there really is no replacement for taking the time to define what, exactly, your brand is.
The advantage for small businesses is that many of them are (relatively) new.
That means, because they don’t have that same history, they’re forced to define what they want their brand to be.
Defining your brand helps to:
- Identify how people currently perceive your organization, and
- Set goals for what you want your organization’s brand to be
Engage your employees through your brand
Size is an advantage for many small organizations on employee engagement.
Because they have so few employees, they can more easily communicate their mission to them.
In many cases the owner also works frequently alongside his or her employees, which presents a lot of opportunities to reinforce the brand with them.
Not so for larger organizations.
Many of them take for granted that their employees will intuitively understand their brand.
But they shouldn’t.
If you don’t take the time to communicate your brand to them, you can’t expect them to advocate for it on your behalf.
Take a page out of the small business branding handbook.
Ensure all of your employee – new and old – understand the tone and feel for which your organization is striving.
Build a community
Small businesses can see the community they’re building first-hand.
Local restaurants and other merchants exist in specific neighbourhoods and get to know their customers face-to-face.
Larger organizations don’t have the same benefit.
Their customers are frequently spread out all over the globe and they sometimes never get to meet them in person.
This makes building a community a lot harder.
But it’s also where good branding can help.
A defined brand helps to unite disparate customers from different corners of the world.
Every city has coffee shops.
(Some a lot more than others).
And all of them, are more or less, offer the same product: Coffee, tea, a few snacks probably thrown in here and there.
That’s where proper branding becomes paramount.
Many small businesses need their brand to be unique, particularly where their product is generic.
It’s a lesson many larger organizations would do well to heed.
Only be setting their brand apart from competitors can they connect with audiences on a more fundamental level.
Identify your purpose
So many small businesses are labours of love.
Without the commitment of their founders, they would cease to exist.
With larger organizations that mission can sometimes get lost.
Which is why it’s so important to build your organization’s purpose into its brand.
Mark Brownlee is a Digital Marketing Strategist with Banfield Agency.