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Branding is just as important for small businesses as it is for big names. Indeed, many corporate brands try to look more like small firms in order to appeal to consumers that prefer to support independent brands. Dan Einzig of agency Mystery explains how to develop your own brand identity

Photo Courtesy Mystery Ltd.

Photo Courtesy Mystery Ltd.

Many small business owners I talk to already understand that branding is essential to their business, but a surprisingly high number of them don’t really know why.

They recognise the link between successful businesses and strong branding, and aspire to build a brand that emulates similar success for themselves. And they understand that branding is not just a logo or how their business is perceived externally. But too few realise that successful brands have this branding at the heart of the business. So much so that in many ways you could almost substitute the word brand for business.

Branding is a way of defining your business to yourself, your team and your external audiences. It could be called the business “identity”, but only on the understanding that it embodies the core of what the business is and its values, not just what it looks and sounds like. Customers of all sorts of businesses are so savvy today that they can see through most attempts by companies to gloss, spin or charm their way to sales.

Image Courtesy Skyrocket.

Image Courtesy Skyrocket.

The benefits that a strategically defined brand can bring are the same as when people fall in love with each other. When customers connect emotively – because they share the same values and beliefs of a brand – it leads to higher sales and better brand differentiation. It also leads to loyalty, advocacy and can even protect your price in times when competitors rely on promotional discounts to drive sales. It can also give you the ideal platform from which to extend your offering or range.

Here are ten tips on how to successfully implement branding for your business.


1. Start by defining your brand.

Review the product or service your business offers, pinpoint the space in the market it occupies and research the emotive and rational needs and concerns of your customers. Your brand character should promote your business, connect with your customer base and differentiate you in the market.

Kapferer Brand Identity Prism tells us, how to give the brand a much needed identity considering six important facets of brand identity.

Kapferer Brand Identity Prism tells us, how to give the brand a much needed identity considering six important facets of brand identity.


2. When building your brand, think of it as a person.

Every one of us is an individual whose character is made up of beliefs, values and purposes that define who we are and who we connect with. Our personality determines how we behave in different situations, how we dress and what we say. Of course for people it’s intuitive and it’s rare that you even consider what your own character is, but when you’re building a brand it’s vital to have that understanding.


3. Consider what is driving your business.

What does it believe in, what is its purpose and who are its brand heroes. These things can help establish your emotive brand positioning and inform the identity and character for brand communications.


4. Aim to build long-term relationships with your customers.

Don’t dress up your offering and raise expectations that result in broken promises, create trust with honest branding – be clear who your company is and be true to the values that drive it every day.


5. Speak to your customers with a consistent tone of voice.

It will help reinforce the business character and clarify its offering so customers are aware exactly what to expect from the product or service.


6. Don’t repeat the same message in the same way over and over again.

Alternatively, aim to make your key messages work together to build a coherent identity.


7. Don’t try to mimic the look of chains or big brands.

Try and carve out your own distinctive identity. There is a big consumer trend towards independent establishments, and several chains are in fact trying to mimic an independent feel to capture some of that market. Truly independent operators can leverage their status to attract customers who are looking for something more original and authentic, that aligns with how feel about themselves.

Image Courteys Racked.

Image Courteys Racked.


8. Be innovative, bold and daring – stand for something you believe in.

Big brands are encumbered by large layers of bureaucracy, preventing them from being flexible and reacting to the ever-changing needs of their customers. Those layers of decision-makers can make it hard for them to be daring with their branding.


9. Always consider your branding when communicating with customers.

Don’t lose your pride or dilute your brand positioning with indiscriminate discounting. Try offering more, rather than slashing prices. Promotions are an opportunity to reinforce your brand mission.

Image Courtesy Orange Square.

Image Courtesy Orange Square.


10. The old way of stamping your logo on everything won’t cut it.

The future of branding is fluid and engaging – respect your customers’ intelligence by not giving everything away up front. Generate some intrigue and allow them to unearth more about your brand for themselves. This is the way to foster ambassadors who revel in telling other people what they have discovered. [1]


Awesome question for your brand supports:

27 Questions that Create Unified, Supportive Relationships

Once you have buy-in around this conversation, here are a handful of questions you can use.

  1. I’d love to learn more about your role and responsibilities. Would you mind sharing your job description so I can be more respectful of your role?

  2. How are you measured? By what criteria?

  3. Do you have your own scorecard and a defined set of key performance indicators?

  4. Can you help me understand the expectations the company and you manager have of you?

  5. What part of your role or the work we collaborate on is most difficult/stressful/frustrating for you? What do we need to do to work together in the most productive way?

  6. What do you see that’s working?

  7. In your opinion, what’s not working that we need to address?

  8. What’s your biggest concern regarding the immediate, timely requests I make?

  9. If we can redesign how we can work together, what would that look like?

  10. How do you like to collaborate?

  11. What’s your expectations or definition of exemplary, 5-Star customer service?

  12. What is your approach to dealing with a customer issue?

  13. If I need you for something, what’s your response time to avoid me putting more pressure on you?

  14. How do you typically like to communicate? (Face to face, phone, IM, text, email, etc.)

  15. If there’s a challenge that needs to be handled/addressed, what’s the best way for us to approach and resolve it? For you, what’s the best way for us to work together around this? How would you like me to approach you?

  16. Other than you, who else would you want me to contact in case of a timely need or challenge if I’m unable to contact you, without overstepping you and your role?

  17. If we don’t agree on something, what approach works best for us to create alignment?

  18. How can I best support you in your role?

  19. Let’s explore what we can do to align our efforts, as well as ensuring we’re consistent in our approach when it comes to supporting each other, so that we always meet our company and customers’ expectations?

  20. What are your thoughts on scheduling a meeting where you and I connect maybe once a week or so to ensure we’re continually aligned in our approach and objectives to avoid creating potential problems?

  21. May I ask, how you’re compensated?

  22. How do you typically like to communicate?

  23. What can we do to maintain our positive relationship?

  24. What would compromise our relationship?

  25. What concerns if any, do you have at this point?

  26. If we notice that we’re reverting to toxic behavior, can we come up with a way to communicate without offending each other?

  27. Given our conversation, what strategy can we put in place to ensure we’re achieving what we both want most? [2]


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References Sources:

[1] Taken from Ten ways to build a brand for your small business written by Dan Einzig, CEO of Mystery, for Marketing Donut.

[2] Taken from How to Build an Awesome Personal Brand So Everyone Loves You by Keith Rosen.


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