3 Reasons Why Brand is so Important to Small Businesses

3 Reasons Why Brand is so Important to a Small Businesses

Imagine you are in your local shop and want to buy a tin of beans.  Not the most interesting of foods but in the UK we are big lovers of baked beans.  We will happily have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner and we eat more cans of it than the rest of the world combined, making our way through more than two million cans of baked beans every day!  Over 25% of us eat them 2-3 times a week.

With lots of brands to choose from, most of us choose Heinz – who sell 1.5m cans a day in the UK (75% of the total consumed).

However, they do not always come top in taste tests and there are many other less expensive brands to choose from. 

But it is the most recognisable and memorable brand, with the Beanz Means Heinz line going back to the 1960s and survived through to the 21st century (last seen in 2009).

1. Whether Your Business is Big or Small Business, Brand is Crucial to Success

After working in marketing and business development for major corporate businesses, when I came to set up my own business, I applied the same process that I used when working with big brands (from department stores to supermarkets to airlines and lots in between).  Why?  Because I appreciate how important a brand is, whatever the size of your business and….

It helps you standout from your competitors

If a small business owner sees themselves as a business, branding tends to be constrained to maybe a logo, business cards and social media accounts.  However, small business owners are both a brand and a business. 

Larger companies may have large budgets to spend on branding but you can still build a great brand to help your business standout, grab customer’s attention so you are memorable.

There are ways to build your brand that do not require massive marketing budgets

  • Build a Brand Identity – invest you time in defining your brand, who you are as a business, your values and how you treat your customers.  Once you are clear on these, choosing your brand name, strap line, colours etc are the easy bit.  It is more important to decide who you are and what your product or service will do for your ideal customer
  • Become a subject matter expert – think about the kind of questions and issues your ideal customers have and create information that responds to them.  For example, if you are a bakery, create a branded blogs and videos on the basics of bread making, the science behind bread, the ingredients needed, recipes, how to get the perfect rise and crust, how to make free from and specialist bread.  Customers will see you as the expert and when they want to buy bread, more like to come to you
  • Create partnerships – link with other brands who compliment your product or service.  For example, a cake maker could link with a local photographer, event planner, popular venue, wedding dress shop, stationery supplier etc.  Building the network enables each brand access to the other customers (in a controlled and agreed marketing plan way)
  • Be a superhero – build a strong reputation through being the best for your ideal customer.  Live and breath great customer service so every customer interaction with you is positive and make customers want to return back to you again and again

Each strategy can work in isolation and should help you build your business on a low budget.  Combined, imagine the level of success you could achieve.

The simplest and most important point I will make in this blog…..

2. Branding is Important to Customers

Branding informs customers about who you are, what you stand for and what issues your product or service could solve for them.  It represents your business and is what they can connect to.  The connection helps to build loyalty and brand advocacy.

It can make the difference between choosing you and your competitor.  And is particularly important as we live in the age of social media where ‘visual’ is king.

Branding improves recognition and creates trust

  • Recognition – your logo and visuals are how customers recognise your business and should be consistent across everything you do (including logo, colours, types of images used).  In essence, the ‘face’ of your business.  You can even access free logo generators on line (simply put the words into a search engine) and choose colours that portray you (serious blue, fun pink, maverick red etc)
  • Trust – having a consistent brand image will make you look more professional and serious as a business, something your ideal customer will be looking for.  And having a memorable brand will help customers get to know you and recommend you, alongside sharing social proof (testimonials from previous customers)

3.  Branding Can Generate More Sales

There is a reason why the big brands of the world invest so much of their budgets in building and maintaining a strong brand. 

Brand value is calculated and forms part of their business accounting.  The top 8 most valuable brands are (Statista 2020)

  • Amazon – $221bn
  • Google – $160bn
  • Apple – $141bn
  • Microsoft – $117bn
  • Samsung – $95bn
  • ICBC – $91bn
  • Facecbook – $80bn
  • Walmart – $78bn

And how fantastic that as a small business, we can learn form the big brands and select strategies that could work for our business.

There are lessons we can learn and implement as a small business.

Starbucks – more than just coffee, it is an experience

Largest coffee house in the world, where their brand is at the core of everything they do and describe themselves as “Inspiring and nurturing the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighbourhood at a time”.  And they continue to dominate the market as it is understood that they are so much more than serving coffee. 

They have loyal customers who feel part of the exclusive Starbucks club

  • Unique experience – coffee shops are designed to be places where customers feel as comfortable to be on their own as customers who gather and meet.  In essence, they are selling an experience which is consistent across the world
  • Product Flexibility – constant monitoring of new trends.  So as customers started buying more non-dairy milk, they offered dairy free coffee drinks (swapping regular milk and cream with soy and almond milk)
  • Product Innovation – regularly introduce new additions to their menu (including experimental flavours), keeping their offer fresh. And done both seasonally or permanently, to attract new customers and give existing customers something to look forward to (helping to keep them interested and engaged)

Duck Duck Go – different from everyone else

You may not have heard of this brand as it is overshadowed by other search engines.  But if you are concerned about your privacy you will find them……

“We’re setting the new standard of trust online, empowering people to take control of their information.”

They have been quietly building for over 10 years and are recommended by word of mouth as customers who use them want to keep their privacy.

Duck Duck Go has a clear differentiation from other search engines so standouts from the crowded market.  Trust is intrinsic as they make privacy a top priority and is clear in it message – it does not track or share your information.  How powerful!

Burt’s Bees – their story is their brand

The description of their products is similar to their competitors, “our products are made with ingredients from #nature, with responsible sourcing, no animal testing, and recyclable packaging”.

Their standout is because of their story.  They use storytelling to help customers understand and relate to their company’s philosophy: treat our skin, and the world we live in, with care.  This is reinforced by how their company operates, including launching “bring back the bees” campaign to raise awareness of the worldwide decline in bee populations – with a goal 2 billion wildflowers. The result included cultivating 10,000 acres of honey bee forage and a number of bee research projects.

Another strong element to their story is being 100% transparent which includes being open in their annual reports on objectives that have not worked.  Quite refreshing.

GoPro – free marketing by using customer’s videos and experiences

On the surface GoPro is a video camera.  However, it is so much more than that because it is about capturing adventure and great experiences.  From filming a great surf to a deep-sea dive, customers are more than happy to share the videos they make (called UGC User Generated Content).  Or in other words, free marketing content for GoPro.

Only a minimal amount of marketing content is created by GoPro themselves.  And it is successful as prospective customers see what they could be achieving and for existing customers, shows the world the adventures they have.  So everyone wins!!

To strengthen the level of customer content. Quik Stories was added to the GoPro app which automatically imports footage from your GoPro camera and creates a quick edit in time with music and automatic transitions and effects.  As well as making editing as easy and automatic as you want it to be.    

Great step forward as it enables customers to produce better videos.

And customers benefit – GoPro Million Dollar Challenge

For the last two years, GoPro have paid out $1m each year with the latest in January 2020

  • $1,000,000 on the line
  • 42,000 clips submitted
  • 45 creators awarded

 “The GoPro Million Dollar Challenge is here. We asked you, the weekend warriors, creative geniuses + thrill seekers, to capture HERO8 Black or MAX videos for the shot at splitting $1,000,000. Over 4 months, you submitted 42,000 clips. Today, 45 creators were awarded $22,222 each. This video celebrates the world’s most versatile cameras + the global family that puts them to work, capturing life’s most meaningful moments.”

With 44m followers across the world, GoPro has an engaged customer base who want to actively participate.

Content is sourced by searching the web for the best and coolest videos shot with GoPro cameras, from customers sending in videos and competitions (including their annual challenge as well as cash prizes throughout the year).

Core to the strategy is finding videos that evoke emotion or are impactful that can be shared with other ‘fans’.  It can be ‘extreme’, unique or just the beauty of everyday life.  This is further supported through sponsoring athletes like skateboarder Ryan Sheckler and snowboarder Shaun White to increase brand awareness in their fanbases.

GoPro know their customers and are providing relevant content that is appealing to them.  As a result, customers shar content and extends GoPro’s reach. 

GoPro create meaningful connections with their customers.

Ikea – listens to and engages with customers

To “create a better everyday life for the many people” is core to their strategy including the way they design, to manufacturing and pricing to ensure it is affordable by most people.

The reason for including Ikea is that they listen to their customer’s issues and respond.  The layout of stores is done to show customers how they could style their rooms (with the ability to walk away with the whole room is they want). 

A great example of understanding customer issues is the Ikea Dubai.  By listening to customers, they found their biggest issue was that it took a long time for some of them to get to the store so in 2019 they launched the “Buy with Time” campaign.

Customers were able to use Google Maps Timeline to see how long it took them to get to the store. The prices of the items were translated into time, for example, a chair might cost nine hours.  The amount of time to drive to the store was deducted from the price.  The issue was still there but customers were compensated (a powerful and positive message).

Summary

Markets are competitive so it is even more important to standout in the minds of customers.  As small businesses we can learn so much from the big brands and implement strategies that work in our arena

  • If your product or service is the same as everyone else like Starbucks – make it about more than just coffee, make interacting with you an experience
  • Great if you have a product or service that is different like Duck Duck Go – so shout about it and show how you are different from everyone else
  • We all have a unique story because it is about ourselves (and we are unique) so like Burt’s Bees – tell your story
  • If your customers already love your product or service be like GoPro – use their words, photos and videos and make them the cornerstone of your marketing.  If you ask them, they are more than likely to be flattered that you want to use their words and material
  • And we can all listen to our customers and understand their issue and be like Ikea – helps to resolve their customer’s issues

Branding is at the core of successful businesses, whether you are big or small.