By Bryan Orr

The subject of small business branding has been moving around in business circles for some time now, and often the small business owner disregards it as something that is for “big corporations.” Don’t buy that. Branding is found to be a vital part of every business and as technology increases, it will become more so.

While branding doesn’t necessarily represent the quality of your work, it’s a vessel of communication to all the world about who you are and what you do. Here are a couple of examples of small businesses who need a better brand:

  • You have a small company that does quality work but haven’t updated your business website in 4-7 years. Current customers are happy and faithful, but if you send a potential customer to your website, they’re going to see something outdated and hard to navigate, and will assume that if your website looks like that, they may not be able to trust your work.
  • You wanted to jump on board with technology and found an affordable tech guy to make some changes to your website, and without hardly asking you any questions he took his personal flair and did some definite changes. You’re not exactly sure how the changes are better, but the color theme is different and you feel confident simply because it’s been updated.
  • You don’t actually know what the word “branding””even means. You thought it was a thing ranchers did to their cattle, so what does this have to do with me?

In a conversation I had with Jeremy Miller from Sticky Branding, he makes a great point about why figuring out your brand coincides so well with growing your business: “People have to make deliberate choices about where they play, who they serve, how they win — what makes them unique.” That’s what branding is, and that’s why you build a brand.

Here are four small business branding secrets to help you build your brand and to keep you from looking like an amateur.

1. Every business should be in a continuous state of learning.

Take opportunities of perceived “failure” and turn them into a lesson learned by eliminating an old way/habit and making changes and progressing forward. The more you do this with customer experiences and complaints, the more you’ll be building a better brand.

2.  Ask yourself what’s most important to you in your business.

How are you going to get there, and how will you communicate this to current and potential customers? This will better help you build that brand you’re hoping to become known for.

3. You can’t be all things to all people.

Even if you want to keep your business small with yourself and/or maybe a handful of people, don’t shout”one stop shop.” You’ll become a generalist, and it will be hard to scale your business profitably. Who is your potential customer and what niche are you striving to reach? Be more specific and focus in on those key areas.

4. An important part of branding is your business’ visual style.

Logos, websites and blogs also represent your brand. Make sure to spend some time thinking about their design. And if you can, hire someone who is an expert in this area. Too often “mom and pop” businesses want to incorporate their own decorative style. Don’t fall into that. You want design to be pleasing to the eyes of others, and often what you like is very different than what pleases the eyes of the masses.

Your best bet, no matter your niche, is to start off:

  • Simple – Keeping mostly the same font throughout your promotional text.
  • Clean – Pick 2 base colors and don’t overcrowd your web pages and flyers.
  • Straightforward – Keep your overall message clear. Don’t get too wordy.

The biggest mistake that small businesses make with branding is attempting to say it all. Good branding requires knowing your business, knowing your customer, and saying what you need to say quickly and with pinpoint clarity.

What are some of the best brands in your opinion?