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How to Build a Strong Brand Identity for Your Small Business

Hey everyone! If you are reading this blog, you are probably a small business owner looking to develop their brand image. Or maybe you’re curious about how a brand strategy fits into your business plan. Either way, thanks for being here!

We will cover some brand elements that you will want to master to help develop a solid foundation for your company. Branding is more than a fancy logo or a catchy slogan. Branding is the soul of your business.

Know Your ‘Why”: Soul-Searching

Before you dive into picking out color palettes and jumping onto Canva to make various shapes and images into a logo, pause for a moment. Ask yourself, why did you start your business? What is the heartbeat behind your venture?

For me, I wanted to help various sports-minded companies with their marketing needs, but to do it in a “boutique style.” No more hiring agencies and creative strategy teams to push a bunch of things you were not ready for. Pick and choose what you want for your needs. That’s my why…plus I love nearly all things sports!

Customers buy brands, not products. Of course, they use products, but it is the brand that they prefer. Spend time creating a brand identity by understanding your "why."

Apple can sell phones not just because they know how to make phones, but because their brand is linked to innovation, high quality, and perfection. There is a large cohort of Android users out there (I used to be one). But it is hard to ignore that most smartphone functions are tailored first to Apple. Why? Because they are the preferred brand of smartphones.

Every great brand has a story and knowing your ‘why’ is the introduction.

Action Step

Grab a piece of paper, notebook, or whatever, and write down your company’s mission, vision, and values you stand for. This isn’t homework, it’s the foundation of your brand. In fact, I have all my students in my business classes do this step as part of their coursework…it’s that important to learn!

Know Your Audience

A starting point in any brand strategy is to know your audience. To do that, you need to know who your audience is. Are they parents, gamers, travelers, senior citizens? Knowing your audience means understanding their preferences, their needs, and their behaviors. It is the cornerstone of effective marketing and product/service development.

The apparel company ModCloth is an excellent example of a company that knows their audience. They craft their social posts to speak directly to their target audience with clever insights and are culturally savvy. The company built a large community where they interact with their customers as unique individuals.

Knowing what your audience likes and wants allows you to foster loyalty, boost sales, and brand reputation. It’s about creating a genuine connection that will resonate with your target audience.

Action Step

If you haven’t created a customer persona yet, do this step! Create a persona of your ideal customer. Give them a name, age, hobbies, education level, family size, and even a favorite color. The more you know your customer persona, the better you can appeal your marketing toward them.

If you have no idea what your customer persona would look like, then it’s time to do some market research.

Design a Logo

Your company logo is often the first thing a potential customer will notice. It helps to tell clients who you are, what you do, and how you can benefit them. Using a logo is part of a company’s visual identity. An unprofessional-looking logo can cause potential customers to question how well you can deliver your services or products.

It’s not hard to come up with some of the most well-recognized brand logos. Just think of Nike, McDonald’s, Google, Coca-Cola, Amazon, etc. But as a small business, you can help your logo stand out as well.

Austin has a taco chain called Torchy’s that it’s logo is a little Devil Angel. It is so well-known in the city that by seeing only the logo, you know immediately it is Torchy’s. Now Torchy’s has branched out across the US, and I can easily locate a chain in another state simply by the logo.

Beyond aesthetics, a logo fosters brand recognition, cultivates trust, and separates a company from its competitors. Being able to set your brand apart with a log can help you stand out in the vast world of commerce.

Action Step

Invest time and thought in your logo. If you are not strong at design (and don’t worry, many of us are not), consider hiring a professional. You can even try using online platforms like Canva to create customizable logo templates.

It’s always best to show someone your logo before going live with it. Having someone look over your logo designs can help avoid any unfortunate errors or awkward spelling mistakes.

Choose Your Brand Colors

Can you think of any brand that you can recognize instantly from its colors? Red=Target. Orange=Home Depot. And one of my favorites, Yellow and Blue=Ikea.

Brand colors play a role in shaping perceptions, evoking emotions, and ensuring brand recall. Colors can convey a company’s values, differentiate it from its competitors, and create a cohesive visual experience. When you choose the right palette for your company, it enhances brand recognition, fosters trust, and strengthens the overall brand identity.

The magic of color consistency is that your brand can be recognized nearly instantly. Of course, this does not always apply to small businesses. But if you are a small, local business owner, you can still have brand color recognition in your area. Austin is full of small businesses and many companies have set themselves apart with their logo or brand colors.

Action Step

Another fun “homework” assignment. Set 2-3 primary brand colors. You can use tools like Coolors or Adobe Color to help you find palettes that resonate with your brand’s feel.

Create a Brand Tone

A brand tone is a unique way for a company to speak and write. It is the distinct brand personality your company uses in all of its communications. It should mirror your business’ personality and appeal to your target audience.

Imagine various people at a party. Is your company a joke-telling life-of-the-party type of person, or the wise sage in the corner of the room? Or maybe you are the trend influencer taking selfies?

As a defining characteristic of your marketing strategy, your brand voice allows you to connect to a specific audience that wants what your company is offering. Brand voice is the consistent personality your brand showcases across ALL channels, from sassy tweets to heartfelt emails. Your brand tone is not just what you say but it is how you say it.

Why is it important? Because your brand tone and voice can help you stand out from the increasing noise that your customers come across online. It can make you recognizable and identifiable on an ongoing basis.

Starbucks is a good example. They use a functional and expressive tone for their brand voice. This helps to simplify their messaging while also expressing a story with coffee. They help their customers know what is to come when they enjoy their cup of coffee. I would never look at a Starbucks campaign and think “Oh wow! That is so funny!” Their campaigns inform me about the story behind the coffee which makes me understand it and get excited to try something new.

Action Step

Get that pen and paper ready. Write down adjectives that describe your brand’s character. Are you passionate, adventurous, or elegant? Let the words guide your content and keep the tone consistent from social media posts to emails.

Engage in Feedback

As your company grows, your brand will evolve. It is important that you keep the conversation going with your audience. Listen to your customer’s feedback. It is the most invaluable resource you have regarding what is working or is not working for your company.

Feedback provides invaluable insights, helping businesses understand their audience’s needs and preferences.

Use active listening to help refine your offerings, fix issues, and enhance the overall customer experience. Listening to customer feedback is the best way to build trust! When customers see their input valued and changes implemented, it deepens their loyalty.

Example: I use a refillable body lotion. I contacted the company after a few weeks of using the product to let them know the pump broke on my container and I would like to order a replacement. They were happy to replace it for me and let me know they were launching a new refillable container based on customer feedback. I was impressed and happy I wasn’t the only one having issues. It solidified me as a returning, loyal customer.

Action Step

Regularly engage with your customers. Use polls on social media, read their comments, and ask for reviews. There are numerous ways to obtain feedback, so go out and get it.

Concluding Thoughts on Brand Identity

Building a strong brand identity isn’t only about aesthetics; it is about creating a feeling and connection. It is a strategic imperative for your company. It is what makes your business recognizable in a sea of competitors. A well-defined brand can be the difference between blending in and standing out. It encompasses your mission, vision, and values.

A strong brand identity fosters trust and credibility. It provides a consistent point of reference, ensuring that all marketing and operational efforts echo the same, clear message. As your business grows, your brand identity can help be an anchor and remind you of your foundational principles to help guide your future path.

For small businesses that want to leave a lasting impact and see long-term sustainable growth, I urge you to invest time and resources into developing a strong brand identity. Embrace the process with authenticity, clarity, and dedication.

Dream big, stay consistent, engage sincerely, and let your brand become a winning name.

Happy branding my entrepreneurial friends!

Unleash Your Brand’s Potential with LB Agency!

LB Agency is a boutique agency that crafts tailor-made content to position your brand in the heart of the game. Every brand is unique and so is how we approach our marketing. Custom-fit for your objectives.

Work with us to develop your custom marketing options whether it is social media ads, blog content, website SEO optimization, email marketing, or a combination. Now’s the time to elevate your brand’s game. Partner with us and experience the power of growth.

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