Your Small Business Needs Branding As Much As Biggies, Here’s Why
Back in 18th century when industrialization was at its nascent stage, the toughest problem that the manufacturers encountered, for making a sale, was making the product itself. Those were the good days when for doing a good business all you had to do is make good products. Words like branding and promotions weren’t yet invented. By the end of 19th century when manufacturing sprang up. Consumers started getting multiple choices in the market for the same requirement. So, the manufacturers began distinguishing themselves with their logo to represent ownership.
To a manufacturer a logo represented ownership- identity, but to consumers it represented quality. A consumers could set expectations from the product from its logo. This was branding, then.
And in this post, we will see how branding evolved, how internet changed branding methods and how and why branding became imperative for small businesses.
Evolution of branding post World War 2
Post World War 2, advancement in technology had gained pace, economies were getting globalized. Foreign companies had started flooding the local market with their products.
Number of products in the market had multiplied extensively and hence choices to consumers had increased manifold. Now the challenge before brands was to distinguish itself from others and project itself superior to other brands present in the same segment. That’s when brand owners had to rely on advertisements on radio, television and print media, to directly reach to audience and communicate to them “how they are better than their counterparts”.
“Branding is not only for Big Businesses”
Days of tribes are over. Now, we have become citizens of a global village.
Today, your consumers are not limited to a geographical boundary like they used to be several decades ago. Digital technology has put your brand on the global map. Given the congested ecosystem and digital technology rendering consumers the power to question, the market is becoming democratic in context of exposure to brands. Now, the old cliché statement that ‘branding is only for big businesses’ has no relevance anymore.
Your small business needs branding as much as the hotshots.
Let me highlight to you some reasons as in why I am stressing on branding for small businesses:
1. It’s cheap, real cheap. Print, radio and television media are losing their importance in context of advertising, they are being replaced by digital media which is available at zero or negligible cost. Social media channels have become a powerful medium to connect with your audience in real time.
2. As I have already stated digital technology has put your brand on the global map. Your customer could be outside your town, city, state, country or even continent. Distances are being bridged and technology has empowered you to reach your customers and tap them without spending bombs.
How a Small Business can do its branding
Now after strongly advocating need of branding for small businesses I would like to share with you some tips which you can employ to initiate branding for your business. Unfortunately when it comes to branding there is no one-solution-fits-all, as different product or services would require different approach.
1. Understand what your USP is…
Your Unique Selling Proposition addresses the question why the customers should buy your product or service or choose you over other competitors. I will give you a small example around USP to help you understand better.
When Drew Houston, founder of Silicon Valley’s latest billion dollar product: Dropbox, was trying to convince investors to shell money into his new venture, they showed skepticism. The VCs argued that with the given market already flooded with Dropbox like products, Dropbox would not thrive.
- VC: There are millions of cloud storage startups
- Drew: Do you use any of them
- VC: No
Hands down Drew wins the argument. He tells VC that he is not using any because they are not good. And what he is going to offer is something that people are going to use and love and this was his USP.
Drew Houston knew his USP and that helped him sell Dropbox and catapult it to number one, despite competition from Google.
So find your USP and once you find it incorporate it into how you promote your product. Your USP should be reflected on your website, logo, tagline, pamphlet almost everything that communicates to your audience even if it’s something as miniscule as your packaging bag or your visiting card.
Figure 3- Unique packaging type reflecting the ethos of brand.
2. Be original and innovative
There are some brands who tend to copycat bigger brands because they couldn’t think any better. But in this ambitious pursuit they tend to forget that the crucial purpose of branding is to differentiate yourself from your competitors and everyone else in the market, not make yourself look like someone else. Projecting yourself like some bigshot is one way telling your customers-“hey, we are the wannabe kids on the block wanting to become big daddy one day”. Do you want to send this message to your customers?
Be original and have your own style.
Infact, consumers today are more inclined towards independent private brands as stated in this article on academia.edu. So, be innovative and devise your own strategy. Blindly aping big brands wouldn’t make you one.
3. Every happy customer is your brand ambassador
I have stated this quote by celebrated American entrepreneur Jim Rohn in my previous posts as well which is
One customer well taken care could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.
And I think this quote is highly applicable for a small businesses where each customer occupies considerable part of the entire pie.
For a small business, it is wise to work more towards making your current customers happy than to acquire just new customers. Periodically extend personalized offers to them, give discounts to them, send them greetings on occasions. In a nutshell give them the reason to stick and talk good things about you.
Your brand is your reputation and it takes time to build one. It has become a two way communication now between brand owners and consumers. Today technology has rendered everyone an equal opportunity to create space for themselves in the market, and that includes small businesses too.
[box type=”shadow” ]About the Author: Ajit Kumar Singh is an optimist by birth and marketeer by choice. He is a startup enthusiast, essayer, short film maker and writer. He currently lives at Zepo. Reach him out at ajit[at]zepo[dot]in.[/box]
[Title Image: Shutterstock.com]