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Starting a business is more accessible than ever but competition is also at an all-time high. In addition, small business failure is also becoming increasingly common. As of 2021, 49.7% of small businesses that originally started in 2016 have failed.
With these high stakes, it’s never been more important to not only understand, but intentionally apply, best practices toward branding and brand awareness to stand out amongst the crowd.
Why Brand Awareness Matters for Your Business
Brand awareness is, in many ways, as important as the actual products and services being sold. With a well-established brand, customers can determine your services, sales, values, and why they should buy it from you specifically. Some of these specific brand traits might include:
- Impeccable care and quality;
- Reliable customer service;
- Customization options;
- Supporting a small, personable business owner;
- Valuable interpersonal interactions;
- Locally or ethically sourced materials.
Memorable branding, including the choice of logo, type font, and colors, all contribute to memorability and an overall sense of familiarity. Memorable brands are more likely to attract returning customers, especially if their experience working with your business was simple and positive.
Ways To Build Your Brand Identity
A potential customer’s first interaction with your brand will either be through the products themselves, or by crossing paths with your business naturally. That’s why making a good first impression is key for your brand story.
Logo design, specifically, is one aspect of branding that shouldn’t be disregarded. A logo is a person’s first impression of you and your product, and poor design can reflect just as poorly on what you offer. A logo should be simple, easy to remember and use iconography that is recognized by customers in your niche.
This initial impression also extends into a person’s first experiences with the brand, which can be more than the purchase process and customer service. For example, additional functions that should be smoothed out include website loading times, design, accessibility, and even how the copy on your site is written. That doesn’t even begin to touch on the experience of an in-person store experience, which can come down to things like overall appearance, floor organization, as well as physical location, and operating hours.
Define Your Company Values
Once a potential customer has made it past the door, inspiring them to return in the future is also an important step of successful branding.
These traits are more than surface-level visuals, and include one’s customer service experience, willingness to go above and beyond, and even treatment of employees and the local community. All of these positive traits can be summed up and shared with customers via clearly defined company values.
HBR encourages business owners to be intentional about their values, especially as they can add a much-desired layer of humanity to a brand. They describe four different types of company values, which include:
- Core values, which reflect what a company strives to be at its more basic foundation;
- Aspirational values, revolving around the things the company aspires to become or embrace in the future;
- Permission-to-play values, which refer to general rules around employee conduct;
- Accidental values, which are organic values that “arise spontaneously without being cultivated by leadership.”
Understand Your Customers
Some important traits of branding may come naturally, such as establishing company values and being firm in the quality and care that goes into your product. However, the more nuanced aspects of branding require more intensive research and data-gathering to nail down the smaller details that will attract new customers..
Market research gives you an understanding of who your best customers could be and how to make your brand attractive to them. can This helps you determine the most effective ways to establish and advertise your brand. The Small Business Association (SBA) suggests the following areas of research when defining your market:
- Market size;
- Economic indicators;
- Market saturation;
Know What Sets You Apart
When company values are established, it’s easier to determine company goals. These can be both short-term and long-term, and should be based on realistic capability as well as thorough market and competitor research.
Ideating these goals should stem from how your business and services differ from the competition, and how customers can find unique value in your offerings. By understanding what sets you apart from competitors in your industry, you can better align overall goals, to pursue those valuable differences, and market them in the form of your overall branding.
Create Branding Guidelines
Brand guidelines offer clear instructions on how your brand is presented in public. This covers everything from brand styling to local events your business donates to and otherwise supports.
Since many customers review a business’ social media accounts, website, online reviews, and even history in terms of causes they support, it’s important to establish these guidelines with anyone in a public-facing role. Further, by working under established guidelines, it’s easier to present a cohesive view of your business, down to the color palette and language used in branding materials.
How To Promote Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is not only a matter of getting your business in front of the people who may benefit from it, but also ensuring the visual and ethical aspects are memorable and appealing to those same people. If they do not purchase at the initial impression, having a strong image can help them to remember you and your services at a different time, which makes them more likely to return.
Get Your Logo Out There
While there is a huge market for online storefronts, expanding that visibility into physical media can grab the attention of customers who may not have otherwise stumbled upon your business. Investing in low-cost, high-impact marketing materials like like company logo stickers, labels, hang tag stickers, or customized decals can have an outsized return when used well. You can also go with more traditional channels including sponsorships or paying for ad space.
Use Social Media
In addition to hands-on media like labels and decals, social media campaigns can be imperative to establishing brand recognition and awareness, especially for new businesses. This is especially important when considering that 37% of consumers claim they first discovered a product or service via social media.
However, social media should be approached with intention and strategic planning, because not every potential customer base is going to be active on every social media platform.
By fully understanding the demographic of different social media platforms you can maximize your advertising budget by only choosing to promote products and services that have a greater likelihood of converting customers.
For example, platforms such as Instagram appeal to millennials and Gen Z audiences, while Facebook is more appropriate for Gen X and older. This market research is also important to perform regularly, especially as new social media platforms become popular and others fall out of the online zeitgeist. As generations grow out of trends and into new ones, social media demographics may also shift over time, and so should your social media strategy.
Promotional Products and Branded Merchandise
Labels and decals are valuable tools in print marketing, but there are plenty of other options at your disposal. Creative promotional products and branded merchandise can have a major impact on brand awareness — especially when it comes to merchandise such as t-shirts with iron-on transfers, custom stickers, mugs, and weatherproof vinyl stickers. These may be applied to customer gear and shown off in public, potentially catching the eye of other potential customers passing by or sharing in conversation.
Sponsor or Host Local Events
Natural presentation of a brand through organic merch like stickers, decals, and t-shirts is valuable, but there is even more opportunity to ensure your business name is reaching the right people through an intentional marketing strategy. An important strategy to consider for every business is how to get involved in your local community. This could be through sponsoring or hosting local events, supporting charities and generally being a good community citizen.
Even if your business offers more than just local products and services, rallying support in a local community is important — not only to spread awareness about local business, but to show where your values lie. There are few things more important than supporting local endeavors, after all, and doing so while sharing your efforts on social media can demonstrate how much you value local talent and charitable efforts.
Make Customer Service a Priority
Making connections with customers is about more than selling a quality product — it’s also about establishing a strong relationship via customer service. Strong customer service doesn’t only refer to when something goes awry, either, and includes things like customer experience, accessibility, ease of access and use, ease of contact, and all-around approachability.
By providing high-quality customer service, your business is more likely to garner positive reviews and word-of-mouth marketing. These can be especially valuable, even in terms of SEO ranking, as more reviews can oftentimes lead to improved searchability.
Understanding your company’s goals, brand guidelines, and customer base is only the first step to improving brand awareness. However, by connecting this information to creative and memorable promotional items, social media interactions, and engagements with your community through local events, you can create an impact in the minds of potential customers that is sure to improve your branding efforts.
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StickerYou blog posts are written and published by members of the StickerYou team at our headquarters, located in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada.