With the recent rise of entrepreneurship, many small-scale businesses have sprung up all over the world. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there were 30.7 million small businesses in the U.S. alone in 2019.
Statistics reveal the growth of more than 1.5 million small businesses between 2015 and 2018. These numbers might give you the idea that setting up a small business isn’t much of a hassle.
However, this isn’t the complete picture. Setting up a new business might have become easier, but making it sustainable is still a hard nut to crack. Generally, it can be quite challenging for small businesses to survive, let alone thrive!
According to Oberlo, over 50 percent of small enterprises fail within their first year. Yet, they form the backbone of many economies.
The biggest challenge to the survival of small businesses is the competition with already established enterprises in their niche. Therefore, small businesses have to craft smart strategies to outdo their rivals.
Are you a small business wishing to gain an edge on your competitors? Despite your limited cash flow, you can succeed if you focus on branding.
As per the Content Marketing Institute, 77 percent of businesses find branding a crucial part of their growth plans.
To best create a unique positioning via your branding efforts, you must start by sketching out and establishing a brand identity.
Here are ways you can do so.
Yes, building a brand identity is the first step in any branding effort. However, you cannot get right into it without understanding your business and customers.
According to Contently, 61 percent of people prefer buying from brands that offer them unique and relevant content.
But, how would you know what is relevant for your customers, without first understanding them?
The answer is ‘audience research.’ Conducting thorough research about your consumers will enable you to build an ideal buyer persona.
Think about their demographics, likes, dislikes, interests, values, and hobbies. Use tools like surveys and focus groups on understanding the needs of your customers.
Once you have done audience research, move on to your competitors. See how they have positioned themselves in the minds of consumers.
Once you know what your competitors are doing, you can channel your efforts into creating a brand that differs from the established norms.
It is what a famous coffee brand, “Death Wish Coffee” did. They researched the coffee consumers and found an untapped market – a segment of consumers that didn’t care much about the taste of the coffee. Instead, they wanted something to feel re-energized.
So, they created their brand identity as the ‘World’s Strongest Coffee,’ something which can wake people up and keep them going every day. Today, they have thousands of customer who prefer their coffee brand.
Establish your USP
All marketers have a love and hate relationship with “Unique Selling Proposition” or USP. In the world of marketing, and hence branding, there is immense importance placed on finding the USP of your business. It forms the basis of your competitive advantage.
Look around; all the successful brands have a USP. Apple sells the iPhone that no other mobile phone company is manufacturing. Coca Cola has a distinct taste that no other beverage company offers. Amazon offers an online shopping experience, unlike any other ecommerce store.
According to Marketing Donut, finding a USP for your business requires you to have:
- understanding of your target market
- understanding of your competition
- understanding of your industry
With the help of your extensive research, the chances are that you will be easily able to identify a USP that best suits your business and consumer needs.
You can take inspiration from a small business called “Imperfect Produce.” The company gained a competitive advantage by selling discounted food items deemed too “ugly” to be displayed on the shelves of famous retail stores.
Using this as their USP, they were able to target individuals wanting to buy affordable food items.
Create a unique logo
To gain a competitive edge over your rivals, you need to create a unique visual representation of your brand. Why? Well, your customers should be able to identify you from a sea of competitors. And the only way they can do so is via your logo.
According to Logo Design Valley, a professional logo design company, “having a creative logo as the face of your business is important because it enables customers to recognize your brand and relate to the experience they had with your company.”
To create an impactful logo, you must ensure that the design you choose is meaningful and relevant to your brand purpose, simple for easy scalability, and timeless for long-term investment. All major brands with popular logos tick all of these boxes.
For instance, Baskin Robbins’ logo features a simple design, yet the hidden “31” makes it meaningful.
Work on marketing assets
While your logo is an essential part of your visual brand identity, it is not the only part. There are various other marketing assets, including your website, business card, product packaging, brochures, and similar marketing collaterals.
All these elements combine to form a compelling brand identity. As a small business, you have to perfect all these branding elements to create a consistent brand voice.
According to Forbes, consistent branding, across channels, helps in boosting revenue by 23 percent.
How do you make sure that your branding efforts are consistent? You do so by first making a brand style guide.
Think of this as creating standards that your brand will follow at all times. It includes things like color palette, templates, and design do’s and don’ts, etc. It ensures that your brand identity and voice remains consistent everywhere.
Mail Chimp is an example of a consistent brand voice. They use an informal tone in all their posts, but their customers like this informal messaging as it never appears inappropriate.
Friendly Advice: Start Small but Dream Big
Creating a brand identity is something every business, irrespective of size, should do. The good news is that it doesn’t always have to be an expensive process either. If you can win the game of branding, you are likely to gain a competitive advantage without spending too much of your limited budget.
However, remember that brand identity is merely the first step. To gain long-term competitive advantage, you must accompany your branding efforts by a robust marketing plan and impeccable customer service.
Summing it up
All in all, to gain a unique position in the mind of your consumers, you must:
- Research your customers and competitors to understand consumer needs and market gaps.
- Identify your USP and relay the same through your branding elements.
- Design an impactful logo to serve as a visual representation of your small business.
- Create all marketing assets in line with your brand guidelines.
These tips will help you successfully create a brand identity that will resonate with your customers. In this way, you can gain a competitive advantage over your competitors