Small business branding is typically an accident. The business is born out of a passion to perform a specific craft or serve a specific consumer. You love computers, so you start a computer repair business. You love helping others stay solvent with their money so you start doing bookkeeping for friends. And so on.
Most small businesses are launched and well into their lifespan before the owner realizes they skipped the critical first step: Branding.
Whether you are working on launching your small business or are years into it, your small business branding could use some focus. The more defined your brand is, the easier it is for you to answer questions like “What should we say?” “How should we say it?” And the most important: “Who should we say it to?”
You probably know these answers in your head, but defining (or refining) your brand can help you communicate better what your promise is, both to your prospective customers and to anyone who might help you along the way, including employees who may never think about what your brand is.
Give Your Small Business Branding As A Gift
As you plan out the new year for your business, factor in some time to work through some questions about your business. These questions are a simple small business branding exercise that will help you better define who you are and where you want to go. If anything, they’ll at least give you some clarity in the upcoming year.
Write down the questions and your answers below. Type them up and keep them handy to remind yourself of your brand throughout the year. Share them with your employees, your vendors and maybe even get some feedback from a few loyal customers to see if they agree:
- How would I describe my business if it had a personality? (Fun, serious, cutting edge, traditional, upscale, accessible, intellectual, approachable?)
- How do I think my customers would describe it as they perceive the business through our communications, customer experience, etc.?
- Are there any descriptors I’ve listed I would rather not be there? Are there any missing I would rather work to add?
- How do I want my customers to feel about me when they interact with my business?
- Am I delivering on that promise?
Branding exercises can and should be far more involved than this, but if you continually gut-check your business with these five questions, you’ll at least keep the end goal of satisfying your customers and delivering on your promise in the cross-hairs.
For more detailed information, writings and even workshops and worksheets on branding, I highly recommend Pamela Wilson’s work at Big Brand Systems and my pal John Michael Morgan, author of Brand Against the Machine.