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Relevance of branding to small businesses

BY: Charles Benoni Okine

MANY small businesses in the country merely operate to make money. To them, their existence is enough and, therefore, their focus is on sales and how to keep the business running. Almost all businesses operate with an intention to pass on their legacy to generations after them and, therefore, there is the issue of sustainability at the back of their minds.

However, every small business, no matter the size, must have one thing at the back of their minds - branding, as part of their intentions to keep the business sustained for long.

Many big businesses have been able to make it to their level because they took competition seriously and were determined to have their product of service stand out and become one of choice.

According to thebrandingjournal.com, branding is the process of giving a meaning to specific organisation, company, products or services by creating and shaping a brand in consumers' minds.

Many a literature have established that branding goes much further than just a logo. A brand is the first interaction a person will have with one’s business. Branding should be a kind of summary of your brand experience. This includes things like tone of voice, content design and customer service. The logo is, however, extremely important and can help you determine some of the other pieces of your brand. When developing your small business brand, you must also consider colour, font, the tone of speech, customer service and any other aspect that is part of a customer’s experience. Branding should give consumers a look into your brand and what your business is all about without even having to ask questions.

Why brand?

Having known what branding is by way of definition and explanation, this piece will take us through a few pointers about why SMEs need to brand.

Recognition - No matter the size, every business owner wants his/her product or service to be recognised. As a result, the most obvious reason branding is relevant is that branding makes your small business more recognisable to the public. Having a consistent design throughout your brick and mortar store, as well as online, helps people become familiar with the business they are dealing with.

Trust - Many own different kinds of phones, but notice how those who use Apple phones, particularly the iPhone 13, behave as compared to those who own Tecno for instance. Let’s say you encounter two businesses on social media. One business seems quite disorganised and all over the place. They don’t have a logo, and it seems like each post was created by a different person. The second has a logo and brand colours featured in each picture, while post style and tone of voice are kept consistent. Which business would you reach out to? The bottom line is, a strong brand elicits trust from consumers and makes your small business feel more legitimate. That is how trust around a brand is built.

New customers - The more customers a business has, the more money it is able to make as profit. It may seem strange, but branding can actually help you get new customers. Take, for example, the new shirt you just bought. A friend compliments you and asks where you got it from. If there is no brand, how will you tell your friend where and how to get it? Word-of-mouth recommendations are only possible if a strong brand is in place. It is never the best to focus on a few customers. Small businesses have to win and win more at all times and that’s where branding comes in.

Originality - True brands speak for themselves. There are small businesses with similar products at every corner, that is why something must make a business - your brand! Stand out from the competition and develop your brand further than just a logo.

Emotional connection - An emotional connection with your consumers should be your business’s top priority. After all, “people don’t have relationships with products, they are loyal to brands” (Goodson, 2012). A strong brand loyalty will ensure that customers will always pick your product over another one. Branding helps create an emotional connection, in that a brand reflects your company’s deepest values and guidelines. If a person connects with these values on a deeper level, your brand will serve as a constant reminder of this connection.

Conclusion

There are many opportunities, but many small businesses do not take advantage of the vast amount of those opportunities a strong brand offers. You may think that branding is only relevant for large corporations with an international consumer base, such as Apple or Nike. But this just isn’t true! Branding for small businesses is just as important. Any business can benefit from a strong, online brand presence. Branding like a journey starts with a step and that is why small businesses can start small.