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Branding is the lifeblood of businesses both small and large. But it’s an issue that’s often overlooked – especially if you’re pressed for time. In this article, we’ll look at some ways you can focus on building your brand in the year ahead. Done properly, branding can help you engage new and existing customers and ultimately, that will mean an increase in your revenues.

1 – Discover what branding is

There are a lot of misconceptions about what branding is. Often small business owners can fall into the trap of thinking that branding is for big businesses only and it’s not something they should be worrying about. However, the truth is that if you have customers then you have a brand. Why? Because fundamentally your brand is what your customers, or your potential customers, think about when they think about your business.

This means that you have a brand whether you realise it or not. It also means that if you haven’t thought about your brand, then you haven’t thought about how to ensure customers have a positive, coherent image of your business.

To learn more about branding and how it applies to your business, watch this webinar on developing your small business brand.

2 – Remember looks matter

People will begin to form a judgment about your brand as soon as they encounter it. Where this first encounter takes place will depend on the nature of your business. However, sooner or later potential customers will end up on your website. This can be a make or break moment in terms of whether someone becomes a customer. If your website looks outdated, or worse is broken in some way, then your brand’s reputation will be damaged. Make your business look the best it can. You can find out more about building your own, professional website with this guide.

3 – Make sure your logo is up to scratch

Logos are another thing that are often overlooked as being unimportant by small businesses, but in reality they’re a key piece of your overall brand. A good logo acts as your brand’s calling card in all kinds of places. Think of companies like Amazon – its logo is featured on everything from its website to its packaging. It’s a way of cementing the Amazon brand in customer’s minds. You can read more about the importance of a good logo in this guide.

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4 – Get consistent

You’ve got a website, you’re on Facebook, you’re on Twitter, you may even have a physical shop. But is your branding consistent across these locations? If it’s not, you may be confusing customers. Consistency is key when it comes to branding – if you set foot in an outlet of a major chain, no matter where you are in the country you’ll have broadly the same experience. Consistency helps reinforce your brand’s message. Take the time to make sure that your brand has a consistent look everywhere you can – be that on your website, your social media channels or your physical shop. Remember, you need to be consistent both visually and with the tone of voice you use when communicating with customers.

5 – Learn the basics of PR

You know how great your business is, but no one else will unless you tell them. PR – the art of getting press coverage for you and your business – is the answer here. Positive news stories from local papers, or on websites that your audience visits are an excellent way to increase your brand’s reach. You can learn more about the basics of PR in this short video on how to get press coverage for your small business.

6 – Discover what your audience expects from you

Of course, you might not have thought about things like tone of voice before. If you haven’t, there’s a chance that you’re not communicating with your audience in the way they expect. If that’s happening, you’ll damage your chances of developing brand loyalty. Take some time to learn about your customers and how they expect a business like yours to interact with them. Once you’ve done that, you can start to communicate with your audience(s) in the way they expect. You can learn more about audience research and tone of voice in the developing your small business brand webinar.

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7 – Add emotion to the mix

Smaller businesses are always going to find it hard to compete with their bigger rivals when it comes to things like ad spend and price cutting. However, smaller firms do have at least one way of gaining a huge advantage over big firms – it’s much easier for smaller firms to build an emotional connection with their customers. This emotional connection is part of reason why people prefer small, independent shops over large chain. To learn more about unleashing the power of emotion for your business, check out this presentation.

8 – Expand your presence on non-owned media

Now, “non-owned media” might sound a bit buzzwordy, but really it’s just a quick way of saying “places online that aren’t your website”. This includes social media and review sites such as TrustPilot. Essentially, these are places where people can talk about your business and you have no control over what they say. If you’re not monitoring these kinds of places, then you won’t know what people are saying about you and you won’t be able to influence the conversation.

If you monitor these kinds of places not only will you have a better idea what you’re getting right and what you’re not getting right, but you’ll also be able to communicate with unhappy customers, meaning you’ll have a chance to put right what once went wrong. If you need to understand more about how to go about doing this check out our guide to using customer reviews to boost sales and our guide on why you need to be on social media.

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