The In-Between Step: Small Business Branding Strategy

So, you’ve started your new business. Congratulations! We’ve pledged our everlasting love to small businesses. Next step, getting customers. Advertising your small business, right? But…what if that isn’t the next step? I’m here to tell you there’s an in-between step.

Don’t put the metaphorical cart before the horse

You believe in your product or service, or you wouldn’t have started your business. Of course, you want to get right to advertising – otherwise people won’t know about you. Let me ask you: are they ready to know about you?

That question is less about their readiness and more about your brand’s readiness. You must think through your small business branding strategy before you unveil yourself to the world. I know, I know, you are SO excited to get out there – believe me, we were 90% ready to unleash Zao on the world for a full two months, but had to force ourselves to wait until we were 100% ready.

If you haven’t articulated your small business branding strategy, you aren’t 100% ready. If you advertise before you’re ready, you’re putting the cart (advertising) before the horse (your brand).

Designing your branding strategy to power the cart

If you make the tempting decision to advertise before branding, you’re putting your business at risk of sending mixed signals, or worse, backward signals. Imagine you get a call from the local paper who wants to give you a great deal on an ad, and they even offer to design it for you. You can take them up on it, but if you haven’t considered your small business branding strategy, you might be throwing money at the “anti-brand”- what we call advertising without branding.

Instead, take a minute (okay, a couple hours or days) to develop your branding strategy. Look at who you are and who you’ll be to your customers. Ask yourself questions that help define your brand. Write it down. Engage the services of a branding consultant to make it easier. Once you’ve figured out what kind of horses you’re using to drive the cart, you can select the best kind of cart to pick up the right kind of people.

Spending money to make money

Piggybacking what we talked about last week on the cost of insight, reflection and research and how cheaper isn’t always better. This carries over from using a $5 logo to using free design in your advertising. Our advice for your small business branding strategy is to include ad templates in your branding. That way, your advertising reflects YOUR brand. YOUR voice. YOUR colors. Without it, people may think the horse pulling their cart is just like every other horse, when really, you’re a horse of a different color.

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