Branding 101: What Every Small Business Must Know




Nailing the branding basics is vital for any business. If you're like most small business owners, you've probably neglected branding 101.

No need to worry, because we've got you covered in this article.

Branding is a broad subject, and we need to focus on what's most important for the small business that wants to create a strong brand.

To better understand what branding is, first let's define what products and brands are:

  • "A product is the item offered for sale. A product can be a service or an item. It can be physical or in virtual or cyber form. Every product is made at a cost, and each is sold at a price." - The Economic Times
  • "A brand is how a company, organization, or individual is perceived by those who experience it." - Brian Lischer

Let's dig a little deeper into some branding basics...

What is Branding?

"Branding, by definition, is a marketing practice in which a company creates a name, symbol or design that is easily identifiable as belonging to the company. This helps to identify a product and distinguish it from other products and services. Branding is important because not only is it what makes a memorable impression on consumers but it allows your customers and clients to know what to expect from your company. It is a way of distinguishing yourself from the competitors and clarifying what it is you offer that makes you the better choice. Your brand is built to be a true representation of who you are as a business, and how you wish to be perceived." - Branding Magazine

What comes to mind when you see this set of famous company logos?

Apple Logo
Starbucks Logo
Disney Logo

When I think of these brands, I instantly think of THE NUMBER ONE digital products and services provider, a COMPANY THAT TRANSFORMED THE COFFEE EXPERIENCE, and THE LEADING family-oriented entertainment company in the world.

I think any of us would be thrilled to have a brand as powerful as these 3.

Now, what comes to mind when you see these brands?

CBS Logo

In the last several months (as of the time of this writing), one of these brands is involved in the devastating Camp Fire, one is being accused of producing a cancer-causing product, and one has an executive being accused of sexual misconduct.

What's my point?

Branding is about what consumers think about when they see something that represents your company. It is a practice, a process, and a story that companies (I mean YOU) need to create to make great first impressions and long-lasting relationships.

Branding involves the human brain. It's about targeting it. It's about learning how to program the human mind to say "YES! I WANT THAT" vs. "NO WAY AM I GOING TO SUPPORT THAT COMPANY!"

Good branding can absolutely catapult your business to the top of the food chain, but bad news travels fast and can wreak havoc on a brand very quickly.


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Why is Branding Important?

Here are a few of the many reasons why branding is important.

1. Branding Increases Recognition

When consumers and your chosen industry start to recognize your brand as a leader that's really powerful. Branding is the only way to gain this type of recognition.

A company logo alone can make people immediately think of what that business means to them. The most iconic brands are recognized through their logos.

The McDonald's logo is an excellent example of a worldwide brand that isn't only iconic but also quickly recognized by almost everyone on earth.

Mcdonalds logo

If you don't recognize the iconic golden arches, then you've been living under a rock. It's a simple design and McDonald's created it specifically to be seen from afar. Some even say that the logo makes them hungry.

It's essential to make sure your logo represents your business as a whole. It is basically the face of your company, so you better spend some time and thought when creating it. Make sure that people will easily recognize your logo the second they see it online or offline.

2. Increases Business Value

This is commonly referred to as brand equity. As you build your brand, there is the potential for added value over and above the business itself because of brand recognition.

Investors are likely going to chase after a strong brand that is established and well-known.

3. Branding Generates New Customers

Branding plays a huge role in terms of referrals. A powerful brand creates a riffling effect on consumers.

In other words, a strong brand naturally promotes word-of-mouth.

Word of mouth is a very effective marketing tactic and is an excellent weapon in getting new customers. Spending time building your brand will lead to people talking about your brand over the long-term.

4. It Promotes Employee Satisfaction

Okay, so this one is about the people within your company (which I believe are the most important asset you have). 

Branding can and does increase employee satisfaction. How? Employees tend to take pride in working for a reputable brand.

A great public reputation and recognition for a brand can go a long way in making employees feel good about what they do. A great brand can also attract new talent to your company too.

5. Branding Creates Trust

Branding helps a company build trust within the marketplace. It builds trust among clients, both potential and existing. We all know people do business with companies they know, like, and trust.

This doesn't happen overnight and requires consistent effort, but the end result will be well worth the time. 

Is Branding Different For Small vs. Large Companies?

Is there really a difference?

Well, you might be surprised to know that branding is really the same no matter what the size of your business.

The one main difference is that larger companies generally have more money to spend on advertising to promote and build their brand, but every company started out small.

For the most part, small and large businesses follow the same steps to reach their branding goals.

Freshsparks put together a great article on the brand building process. Here's a summary from the article:

  • Step 1: Determine your target audience.
  • Step 2: Create a brand mission statement.
  • Step 3: Research other brands in your industry.
  • Step 4: Outline the key qualities and benefits your brand offers.
  • Step 5: Create a logo and tagline.
  • Step 6: Form your brand voice.
  • Step 7: Build a brand message.
  • Step 8: Let your brand personality come through.
  • Step 9: Integrate your brand into your entire business.
  • Step 10: Be consistent.
  • Step 11: Be your biggest brand advocate.

That's branding 101. Truly, branding is a crucial marketing component that should be part of your marketing strategy. Follow the branding basics consistently, and it will pay off. Don't forget, branding is not a sprint, and it will take a lot of effort over the long-term to be effective.

What do you think? Are you starting to see how building a brand can be beneficial for your company? This was a very high-level overview of branding 101, but I hope you get the picture.

Feel free to post your questions in the comments, and we'll be sure to respond. We'd be honored if you feel this is worth sharing too!

Creating a solid marketing strategy is a must for effective marketing? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Marketing Strategy to learn more.


We'll show you how to create a simple, effective marketing plan in minutes!

This is the exact same marketing plan we use for our business  and our clients.

It's simple and easy to use. Isn't it time you started seeing consistent, repetable results with your marketing? It all starts with the RIGHT plan...

Header image courtesy of Pxhere.

About the author, Tim Fitzpatrick

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