Branding Basics for Small Business

August 15, 2013

From Starbucks to Apple®, large corporations benefit from strong brand recognition in the marketplace. So how can small businesses do the same without the large marketing budget? One of the first steps is to establish and follow brand guidelines. Brand guidelines provide brand consistency making it easy for consumers to not only recognize a company in the often cluttered marketplace, but also help them make an emotional connection to the brand building loyalty.

To help small businesses create a strong image that will not only distinguish them from competitors, but also build brand loyalty, Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers four steps for your business to be noticed in the crowded marketplace:

1. Focus on what sets you apart from the competition. Is it location, products, a specialized service, low prices?

2. Decide on an image. How do you want consumers to perceive you? What feelings do you want associated with your brand?

3. Consistently communicate your image. Do current ads portray the image you want for the business? Do you portray a warm and personal touch or a fast-paced, high-tech image?

4. Incorporate your image into all aspects of the business. Does your logo, stationery, envelopes, invoices, signage, Web site, ads, uniforms, reflect your image?

Once you have established an image, consider developing brand guidelines to ensure it remains intact moving forward. Some guidelines to include are specifications around the following elements: 

• color palette 
• typography 
• size requirements 
• slogans and taglines 
• logo variations 
• trademarks 
• letterhead, business cards, email signatures

Remember, every experience a customer or potential customer has with your business - including phone interactions, service calls and product performance - should reinforce and support your image.

It is up to you and your employees to deliver results that fulfill the image and this may require employee training around customer service and expertise about your products or services.

About BBB of Central, Northern & Western Arizona 
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews® on more than 4.7 million businesses and 11,000 charities, all available free at  Incorporated locally in 1938, BBB Serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona is supported by over 11,400 BBB Accredited Businesses. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business reviews and charity reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.