Regardless of industry or trade, small businesses tend to face many of the same obstacles when contemplating a rebrand. Here are some pointers for small businesses looking to refresh their brand identity:
Define Your Goals
Before meeting with your agency, spend some time considering your business goals and where you see your company in the next five or ten years. Think about other brands you admire and what, if anything, about those brands you would like to see reflected in your company. The best creative solutions are always based on the client’s business goals, so it’s worth the time and effort to really think about your company's needs and wants.
Make a Financial Commitment
Investing in building a new website, changing signage, graphics, and commissioning professional photography, can be daunting investments for a small business. However, dedicating financial resources to marketing your brand the right way the first time, can save time and money down the road—and may even provide a return on your investment (ROI) in the form of increased business.
Establish or Refresh Your Identity
Work with a branding agency - or on your own - to create a brand identity that reflects your corporate values. Using the goals you defined for your company, think about what you want your company to stand for. Identify whom your core user or customer is. Think about your packaging design and consider if it needs to be updated.
Build Your Brand
Once you have established a brand identity, build recognition for it by including a consistent brand message across your company's marketing materials. Make sure your brand identity (i.e. logo, values, and/or corporate colors) is included on your website, business cards, signage, letterhead, and advertisements. This necessary step can quickly build customer recognition of your brand.
Have a Professional Website
Your company's website is frequently the first and sometimes only line of communication to your customer. Investing in a polished and professional website with appropriate social media plug-ins (e.g. Facebook “Like” buttons) and blog content, gives your company multiple platforms to relay your brand's message to your customer. A well-designed website that is easy to navigate, comprehensive, and user-friendly can make a positive lasting impression on consumers.
A small business must think of consistency in two ways. The first is brand consistency. Make sure your brand's message is uniform across all platforms, including your website, your customer interaction, and marketing materials. Second, be consistent with your customers. One of the primary drivers of brand loyalty is a consistent consumer experience. A positive experience can lead to repeat business and increased sales. However, a customer's negative experience can easily damage a brand. If your small business can focus on both types of consistency it can build a positive reputation and a loyal customer base for your brand.
One advantage that a small business has over a large corporation is that it can be nimble, creative, and react quickly to changing circumstances. Small businesses should use these assets and get creative about how to achieve their marketing goals. If you have no marketing budget, try bartering or putting social media tools to work for your company. Boost sales by teaming up with a local coupon offering site such as Groupon or Living Social. Blogs are a great way to convey your brand's message for free. If necessary, monetize your website via ad sales.
When economic times are tough, small businesses can be especially hard hit. For many small companies during an economic downturn, branding and marketing costs can be daunting, but don't abandon your branding efforts. Economies have their ups and downs, but if you are able to maintain your brand and its values through the economic downturn, consumers will remember. Investing in branding truly is an investment in your own company regardless of the economy.
Small businesses of all sizes want to share their brand's message, but may face obstacles due to the size of their budgets. Committing to make even a small financial investment in branding and marketing is an important business investment. A good branding agency can help you focus on your business goals and aspirations, re-invigorate your brand, and show your company the ropes of creative branding on any budget.
Elizabeth Amorose is Co-Founder at Thinkso, a New York City design, strategy and marketing agency specializing in full-service brand identity, collateral, website development, content strategy, and marketing plans. Watch Elizabeth and Co-Founder, Brett Traylor, give first-hand branding advice to OPEN Cardmember, Finish Line Physical Therapy, in our special web series, Project RE:Brand.