Why branding is important to startups and small businesses

Why branding is important to startups and small businesses

Apple. Coca-Cola. FedEx. Nike. Amazon. These are some of the world’s most recognised brands. It took them years, even decades, to become the giants that they are today. But they all started small. Most marketers insist that branding is important for the growth of a business. If you’re a startup or a small business, the time to start building your brand is now.

What is a brand?

A brand is not just a particular product or service. Branding encompasses everything, including the manufacturer (for example, Apple and its iPhones) or the service provider (FedEx and their door-to-door delivery services). All of the following contribute to the totality of a brand:

  • Name of product or service
  • Its logo
  • All visual elements (photos, graphic art, fonts, colours, etc.) associated with it
  • The company’s stated values and philosophies
  • The image and reputation of both the product and its company

The last two take time to build. A brand projects a chosen image at the start, but making sure it sticks requires time and effort. A brand needs to behave consistently with its image so that it builds a good reputation over time. Remember the formula: Your actions + what others say about you = your reputation.

It is important to emphasise consistency. Even a big brand like Uber stumbled because its actions contradicted what the company stood for in the public eye.

What are the advantages of branding?

Your brand should communicate and connect with your customers. When done properly, branding:

  • Improves customer recognition -- When you see the famous Golden Arches towering in the sky, you know there’s a McDonald’s nearby. And hearing the familiar tune of “Oh, what a relief it is!” reminds you instantly of the remedy Alka-Seltzer provides.
  • Creates a competitive edge -- Your branding should set you apart from your competitors. Most t-shirts are the same in terms of function. Thanks to branding, almost anyone can tell the difference between a Gucci t-shirt and a Gap t-shirt.
  • Creates trust -- When a brand is consistent in delivering its promise (Volvo will continue to make safe cars), then consumers start to associate its visual identity with trustworthiness.
  • Builds value -- The more a brand is seen as trustworthy and stable, the more it gains in financial value. People trust that this company does good business, and so it’ll be easier for them to get an expansion loan or roll out an IPO.
  • Inspires people (both employees and customers) -- The best brands are the ones that inspire loyalty to both customers and employees. Customers are assured and delighted by the brand, while employees feel proud and protective of the brand they’re working for.
  • Helps retain and generate new customers -- Great brands have great recall, so it’s easier for your customers to recommend or promote your brand to others. Even non-users of your brand may already know of it, so a little push from someone they trust will make them more inclined to try your product.

How does one build a brand?

Here are the steps to building a brand, from pre- to post-launch:

  1. Know your product inside and out. When someone asks about your product or service, you need to know the answers. How can someone trust what you’re offering when you are unsure of it?
  2. Know your market well. Research your target audience; get insights into what will motivate them to want your product or service. Find out who your competitors are; get to know their strengths and weaknesses, and determine how you can be different from them.
  3. Choose your brand’s focus and personality. Try to please everyone and you please no one. Focus on your brand’s positioning, what it stands for, and its tone and voice.
  4. Choose a name. It needs to be distinct so that no other brand has the same name and cause confusion. You can create a word from scratch, use a metaphor, alter the spelling, use initials or an acronym, or combine two words into one.
  5. Come up with a catchy slogan. While a slogan isn’t essential, a good, memorable slogan is a powerful asset for your brand. The best slogans can distill what your brand is all about in one short phrase or sentence, like Nike’s “Just do it” or Apple’s “Think different”.
  6. Pick your brand’s colours and fonts. Colours and fonts should convey your brand’s tone and character. Choose ones that will also differentiate you from others, or else you’ll confuse the consumers.
  7. Design your logo. Your logo is your brand’s face, so choosing the right one is crucial. The best logos are simple, memorable, impactful, and scaleable (it’s still recognisable even when reduced in size). Note: Brands have been known to change their logos over time. Whether it’s a simple tweaking or a complete revision, logo changes reflect the evolution of the brand.
  8. Apply your branding across your business, and evolve it as you grow. Be consistent in applying your branding to all aspects of your business. If your business expands, make sure your branding reflects the changes.
  9. Communicate your brand effectively to the public. If your logo is your brand’s face, then your marketing, advertising, and merchandising efforts represent how your brand walks and talks.
  10. Allow your employees and your target audience to be brand ambassadors. The people who know and love your brand the most are the ones who are the best influencers and amplifiers of your brand.

Brand building may look daunting, especially for a startup or a small business. But remember that the best brands are like people; the resilient ones are those who are tough but flexible to changes.

We at G.K. Craig Printing can help you start strong with your branding, whether it’s your first logo, or an update to an existing one. With 40 years of branding experience under our belts, we’ll help you design your logo, choose your colours and fonts, apply your visual design on all pertinent materials, design your product packaging, and more. Aside from design, we also have other services like offset and digital printing that will bring your brand to life.

If you’re in the Central West, call us, drop a line, or drop by our office on Peisley Street in Orange, New South Wales. We’ll be more than happy to be your trusted partner in building your brand.