Why is Small Business Branding so important?

Branding Business Marketing Reading Time: 7 minutes

If you’re just starting your business or if you’re in the early stages of growth, you might think that you don’t have to worry about things like your branding just yet.

I mean, it’s not like your branding has a big impact on sales, right?

Well, branding has a bigger impact on your customer engagement and acquisition than you might think.

To explain just how important small business branding is and why you need to nail your branding early on, I’ve put together this blog post with all the details!

What is small business branding?

Branding is more than just your logo. It’s more than your colour schemes and fonts or the images you use in your marketing.

It’s the overall perception that your customers have of your brand and the experience they have with you and your products. It’s the purpose and values that your business follows and the visual representation of this brand purpose through your personality, tone of voice, visual styling, and messaging.

A mockup of small business branding collateral, with branded notebooks, letterheads, envelopes and business cards.

Your branding should encompass everything your brand stands for, set you apart from competitors in your industry, and help you create emotional connections with your audience and existing customers.

The benefits of strong small business branding

Making your brand recognisable

Your branding is what makes your business recognisable.

So, creating a unique identity for your brand and consistently using your branding across your website and marketing channels will help increase your brand awareness and recognition.

And a brand that feels familiar and recognisable is a brand that’s more likely to attract customers and build brand loyalty.

Building trust and credibility

As a small business, building trust and credibility with your audience should be a super-important part of your strategy.

You don’t have the luxury of being a big household name, and the chances are you haven’t built up a strong reputation with your audience yet.

That’s where branding comes in.

Creating a brand that reflects what you stand for, what you do, and why you’re different from your competitors helps to build trust with your audience.

Improving your user experience

How you use your branding across your website can have a big impact on user experience.

If you have a strong brand presence on your website and stay consistent with design elements, colours, typography and brand identity, you’re giving your users that level of familiarity, trust, and reliability they’ve had during other encounters with your brand on social media, for example.

Or if some users are landing on your website and having their first interaction with your brand, your logo, colour palette, and other visual brand elements will play a big part in forming their first impressions of you.

A well-executed brand design can improve user experience through consistency, captivate new users, and pique their interest.

Standing out from your competitors

Bit of an obvious one, this, but just as important as the rest!

When you’re surrounded by a sea of competition, with competitors offering similar or the same things that you do, your brand identity helps you stand out and differentiate your brand from the rest.

That doesn’t just mean standing out visually, like if they’ve got a red logo, you don’t just go for a blue one to “stand out from the crowd”.

It’s about creating a brand identity that’s different from your competitors, piquing your audience’s interest, and making them more interested in buying from or working with you.

And you can achieve that through:

  • Following design best practices with your visual branding
  • Creating a timeless, visually appealing brand design
  • Using a brand voice and personality that suits your audience
  • Supporting causes that your audience cares about
  • Being authentic and sticking to your brand values in everything you do
  • Building a strong brand connection through two-way audience interaction, exclusive offers, and loyalty programs

You can embrace being an underdog

As a small business, there will be bigger fish in your industry than you.

And that’s not always a bad thing!

Being a smaller brand comes with its advantages, especially being able to pivot more quickly and try more adventurous and risky plays with your branding and marketing than the more established players in your industry, that are often more risk-averse.

Everyone loves an underdog, especially when they cleverly execute their marketing strategies and outperform the big players.

A great example is Surreal, a cereal company that makes high-protein, low-carb cereals.

They’ve been taking social media by storm over the last year or so, overtaking huge brands like Kellogg’s in social following and engagement.

How? Through their unique brand identity and their witty, tongue-in-cheek social media strategy.

So, don’t shy away from being an underdog in your industry. Embrace it.

I’ve taken a closer look at Surreal’s branding and social strategy in the example section at the end of this blog, so keep reading!

Tips for creating great branding for your small business

Consider all the key components of branding

If you want to create a great brand strategy for your small business, you need to cover all the key areas of branding.

There’s a lot that goes into creating a great brand, but these are the main components that you’ll need to nail:

  • Brand identity – visual designs, tone of voice, personality etc.
  • Brand values – what your brand stands for and why
  • Brand messaging – consistent website & social copy with your tone of voice and personality
  • Brand differentiation – what makes your brand different from your main competitors
  • Brand experience – the impression/feeling your audience gets when they interact with your brand across different platforms

With each component, you need to carefully plan your approach and back your decisions with accurate design and audience research data.

And that brings me to the next point.

Do your research

Research is an essential part of any branding strategy.

Without it, how can you know what resonates with your audience? What matters to them when it comes to branding? And what branding trends you should be following?

For different stages of your branding project, you’ll need to conduct various types of research.

Market research

This is where you’ll analyse your competitors’ branding, strengths and weaknesses, and understand how to differentiate your brand from theirs. You’ll also need to study your market and how the current and emerging trends will influence your brand relevance.

You’ll also need to conduct audience research to define your ideal customers’ demographics and behaviours, which will help you create a brand that’s tailored just for them.

Customer research

This is where you take your audience research to the next level. You gather data through surveys and questionnaires and one-on-one interviews or focus groups to generate a load of qualitative insights.

From here, you can create a detailed customer persona summarising the characteristics, behaviours, and motivations of the people you want to reach with your branding and marketing.

Brand positioning research

Here, you assess how your ideal customers perceive your brand and identify which elements are already working well and which need to be altered or changed completely.

Now you can start to use all of your previous research and your findings from your brand positioning research to begin planning and defining your brand identity, values, and messaging.

Design and visual research

Before you create your brand visuals, you’ll need to research colour psychology to understand the effects of different colours and how they resonate with your target audience. Also, looking at visual design trends and best practices for your logo and styling will help you align your designs with your brand’s personality and values.

Don’t get bogged down in subjective design decisions

One of the biggest tips I’d give for creating your small business branding is to never make decisions based on personal opinions.

Design and visual styling are subjective, meaning different people like different things.

You might hate a proposed design for your brand, but your audience might love it. And it works the other way too. You might love a design you’ve put together, but your audience might think it looks 💩.

Making decisions based on what you think looks good could lead to negative customer experiences.

You need to do research for a reason; to make informed decisions when building your brand identity.

So, even if you’re not 100% sure about the visuals for your brand identity, if your research and data show it’s the way to go, then maybe bite the bullet and just go for it.

Who knows? It may be the best decision you make for your brand!

Examples of great small business branding

So now we’ve talked about why small business branding is important and a few other things to bear in mind; let’s take a look at a few small businesses that, in my opinion, have absolutely nailed their branding.

Surreal – hilarious and high in protein

I know I’ve already mentioned Surreal in this blog post, but I needed to come back to it and show some examples of what I was talking about.

As you can see from the screenshot I nabbed of their website, their visual identity isn’t too crazy.

Surreal's website homepage banner and branding.

They have a light, pastille colour scheme and a good font. It’s clean, it’s simple, and it’s easy to recognise.

But where they really stand out is in their brand tone of voice, personality, and messaging.

Their website starts to show a little bit, as you can see from this screenshot of their About page.

Surreal's about section and messaging on their website.

But their social media is where their brand really comes to life. Just look at some of these visual snippets I’ve taken from their LinkedIn page… it’s brilliant!

A collage of Surreal's witty and cleverly branded social media posts.

I think it’s safe to say their branding and marketing are more fun and memorable than that of Kellogg’s, Nestlé, and all the rest.

And most importantly… it works! After following them on LinkedIn for ages, I bought a variety box a few months ago, and it’s pretty good stuff! 🥣

Hideout Coffee Company – caffeine with a creative twist

This one’s a more local small business to me, based just down the road in Portsmouth.

Starting life as a quirky side project in the basement of a Graphic Design studio, Hideout Coffee Company quickly took off, not just because of the great coffee and doughnuts they sell, but because of the crazy creative stuff they do across their branding and socials.

As you’d imagine, being founded by an experienced graphic designer, it’s not going to be a bland visual experience.

Straight away from some of their recent Instagram posts, you can tell their styling differs from that of international chains like Costa or Starbucks.

An grid of nine branded posts from Hideout Coffee's Instagram page.

And it’s not just their visual styling; their brand voice and personality are pretty risqué and out there too – just look at the caption on this post! 😳

An Instagram post on Hideout Coffee's profile, with a funny and slightly risqué caption.

Another great thing is that they’re consistent with it. It’s not just for show on social media; they use this branding in real life, with the words ‘THE FINEST COFFEE PERVERTS’ on their coffee shop window.

Their brand might not be everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee ☕️), but they’re definitely reaching the right audience for their business!

High Score Arcades – levelling up their design

Onto a simpler but well-executed brand and website design, here’s High Score Arcades, a free-play arcade chain with 5 locations in the South of England.

Their branding isn’t groundbreaking, but they’ve created a simple style and design that fits their target audience.

High Score arcades' branding and website homepage design.

The photo above shows the arcade-style font used in their logo and the dark blue/purple colour scheme with the neon accents that replicate that arcade lighting feel.

This is an excellent example of less being more, and shows that your small business branding doesn’t need to be complex to be good!

Want to give your brand a full makeover?

If your branding is looking a bit tired and out of date, then let our creative design experts create something fresh for you!

Our Brand Creation packages start from £2,000 +VAT and include a full-scale analysis of your current branding, in-depth audience and market research, and the full design and creation of your logo, custom fonts, images/iconography, documents and social templates, and more.

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