Brand identity is more than only a marketing strategy that makes people aware of your business so that they will buy your product. It’s a method of developing a relationship with potential customers over time, in a manner that they feel impacts their lives.

When people think of branding, they might first think of popular logos, such as the McDonald’s golden arches, the Nike check, or the Facebook “F.”

However, these iconic images also likely bring up nostalgic memories for many consumers, perhaps of weekend lunches with their parents, their first pair of fancy sneakers, or fun college parties.

Nike Ad

These emotional connections keep many of the most skeptical consumers loyal to these brands. A strong brand identity is something that small businesses can similarly use to convert a browsing consumer into a lifelong customer, in the same way, a Nike fan wouldn’t be caught wearing Adidas shoes.

This article will delve into how more about the importance of brand identity for small businesses, the steps to follow to develop a solid brand identity, and what to remember when developing a brand identity.

Why Is Brand Identity Important to Your Small Business?

You might think that brand identity is something that you should look to develop for your small business only as it begins to grow. However, this is an aspect you should consider from the very beginning.

Approximately 66% of consumers have reported that brand culture and brand transparency is a major factor in determining whether they purchase from a business. Your brand identity is a part of your brand culture. It’s your mission statement. It’s what inspired you to start the business. It’s the little details about your brand that once shared can make your customers feel like they’re a part of your family.

If you own a bakery based on your grandmother’s recipes and your brand colors are pink and white because those were your grandmother’s favorite colors, guess what, that’s a part of your brand identity. Your consumers should know that so that they can connect the colors and your baked goods to their grandmothers and have an emotional connection to your brand.

What Are the Steps to Developing a Brand Identity?

When developing your brand identity, you’re painting an overall picture of how you want customers to perceive you, your brand, and your product or service. Your beliefs, values, and what your product stands for all go into your brand identity. Here are some steps to consider when developing your brand identity.

What Is Your Brand’s Purpose?

There are several questions you can ask yourself as the owner of a small business that’ll help you determine your brand’s purpose. These questions will become the text that you use to communicate to customers about your brand on various platforms.

To speak about your business, you need to know your brand inside and out. Being able to answer these questions thoroughly and honestly will give you an idea of how you want to position your brand identity:

  • Who are you?
  • How would you describe your company in three words?
  • What’s your company’s mission statement?
  • What problems do your products or services solve?
  • Why should customers care about your brand?
  • How can you be a superhero for your customers?
  • What do you want to be known for in the marketplace?
  • What makes your brand unique?
  • What are your company’s core missions and values?
  • What kind of difference do you want to make in your industry?

Who Are Your Target Customers?

Determining your target audience is especially important to small businesses that might have limited resources to experiment with different types of audiences.

You should take the time to map out a profile of your ideal customer, which includes their age, income, education level, gender, hobbies, and interests. Most important, you should have an idea of when, why, and how they would need your product or service.

You can also compare the demographics, sales, and market statistics from similar brands, observe your own metrics, comments, and reviews from your current customers to determine how well you’re hitting your target market. From here you can build or tweak your brand strategy to best fit the audience you want to attract.

What Makes You Different?

Much of building your brand identity has to do with standing out against competitors. Knowing who your competitors are and your place among them is pivotal to excelling at your own marketing strategy.

Once you see how you’re similar, you can figure out how to stand out. Again, these notes and ideas will ultimately be the messages that tell the story of your brand on various platforms:

  • What’s your point of difference, such as family-run, vegan, eco-friendly, run by women, or run by people of color?
  • What’s your brand personality, such as playful, serious, traditional, or adventurous?
  • What’s your brand story and message, such as what inspired your businesses and what keeps it going?

What Is Your Visual Identity?

Developing your visuals is the next important thing to consider after you’ve planned your brand strategy. There are several brand assets you can include in your visual identity. Additionally, you can create a style guide to dictate how logos are used in tandem with words.

As mentioned above, when determining your brand personality, this will ultimately translate to how text and images will flow together with various marketing campaigns.

Here are some visuals you can consider including in your brand identity:

  • Logo
  • Color palettes
  • Fonts
  • Icons
  • Business cards
  • Website
  • Photography
  • Graphics

Where Can You Find Partnerships?

As a small business collaboration and partnership is a great way to get your name more well known. Partnering with more established businesses that already have access to your target customers is a great way to organically spread the word about your brand.

The best partners will likely be in the same industry but not be direct competitors. For example, if you’ve developed a new sports drink, you can offer samples to local gyms or be a guest writer on a fitness blog or guest speaker on a fitness podcast. You’ll still have access to the consumers you want without overlapping with competitors.

What Should You Remember When Developing Your Brand Identity

Here are some key elements you want to have associated with your brand:

  • Be memorable over trendy and modern
  • Keep your social media presence up to date; know what social media your audience uses the most
  • Work with influencers and use customers’ positive feedback in marketing
  • Associate your brand with content your audience can use
  • Have great customer service with easy e-commerce, a fast response time, a simple payment system, and so on
  • Have well-established values behind your brand, such as social justice or the environment or support a cause or organization

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Tools Can You Use to Maximize Your Brand Identity?

Searching in Google Trends

  • Google Trends: Suitable for identifying top keywords
  • Buzzsumo: Use to look for influencers
  • Google Alerts: Notifies when search terms are mentioned
  • Mention: Similar to Google Alerts but include social media in search
  • Hootsuite: A hub that allows you to be logged into several social media feeds at once, so you can post to respective feeds and respond to comments at will

Social Trends

Do You Have To Do All of This Yourself?

It’s up to you to decide how much brand strategy you’d be willing to do on your own and how much you’d be willing to pay to outsource. Many businesses can expect to put an initial investment of 12% to 15% into branding.For a small business, this could include hiring a social media expert, a brand consultant or branding agency, a graphic and web designer, or a copywriter. If you already have someone in your business who is willing to take on the brunt of the marketing responsibility, that can also be a plus.

Conclusion

More than ever, customers expect a seamless experience from businesses they interact with, regardless of whether they are large or small. Having a well-developed brand identity can help a small business look more professional and well respected at first glance to the prospective consumer. Once again, this can be the difference between a browser and a long-term customer.