Group of three smiling friends walking outside and holding shopping bags.
From having a clear brand foundation to making sure your branding is integrated throughout your entire business, these steps will help make your brand memorable among customers. — Getty Images/Vesnaandjic

It’s one thing to create a valuable product or service; it’s another thing to cultivate a memorable brand along the way. While the former is important, the latter is critical to establishing and growing a business for long-term success.

To help small business owners develop their brand, small business experts Carla Nikitaidis and Kathryn Humphries, creators of the seven-step All You Need Method of building a lasting small business brand, shared insights on how to create a brand your customers will remember.

What is branding?

In today’s business marketplace, consumers don’t just care about what you’re selling; they want to know who you are and what you stand for. That’s where branding comes in: It not only helps you hone in on your company’s mission statement and value proposition, but it also signals that critical information to your customer base.

“[As consumers], we want to buy products and interact with people and experts that stand for something [and] that doesn’t feel transactional,” explained Nikitaidis. “We [want to] know who the founders are, what they stand for, what the company values are.”

Especially in a digital landscape flooded with content and consumer options, this transparency has become more valuable than ever: A study by Stackla found that 88% of consumers consider authenticity to be “important” (with 50% considering it “very important”) when it comes to deciding which brands to support.

“Building that brand identity is [...] going to help you stand out from the crowd, and give meaning and authenticity to your product and service,” Nikitaidis added.

[Read: How to Build a Successful Brand]

How to build a memorable brand

Build a strong brand foundation

Nikitaidis and Humphries agreed that the best way to build a memorable brand is to start with a strong brand foundation (also known as brand identity). To do this, they recommend entrepreneurs hone in on the following:

  • Who are you, as a business?
  • What are your values? What do you stand for?
  • What is your mission?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • How can you represent all of the above visually (e.g., through your website and social media channels)?

While this process may sound daunting, it provides you with a solid foundation upon which to build your company over time.

“[Your] overall foundation is going to inform every decision you make as a small business owner [...] and you’re communicating this consistently over time,” said Humphries. “It’s this repetition that really helps you stand out, build credibility, and connect with your target customer.”

“Having a clear mission, a clear vision, having that roadmap on where you want to go, is going to help everything else fall into place,” Nikitaidis added.

Having a clear mission, a clear vision, having that roadmap on where you want to go, is going to help everything else fall into place.

Carla Nikitaidis, Co-founder, All You Need Method

Hone in on your target customer persona

Once you’ve established a strong brand foundation, you’ll need to hone in on your target audience. Nikitaidis and Humphries recommend creating three separate personas to target the different types of customers who may seek out your products or services. This process involves not only identifying the customers’ demographics or how to best “sell to” them, but truly understanding their challenges and how you can add value to their lives.

“If you understand the pain points of your target audience, and you understand how to inspire them and what delights them, then you are going to be able to connect with them,” explained Humphries.

After honing in on your target customer persona, you’ll be able to more easily develop authentic branding and content that resonates with them.

“If you're able to go out there and tell a compelling story that moves people and takes your brand or business beyond just what you're selling and creates an emotional connection with a customer — that’s what’s winning these days,” Nikitaidis told CO—.

[Read: How to Build a Small Business Content Strategy]

Integrate your brand across your business

Your brand is part of your organization’s DNA — and may evolve over time. Small business branding doesn’t stop with your website and social media posts. Integrating that strong brand foundation across all aspects of your business will help you stay true to who you are.

“Create a consistent brand narrative and story, and then tell it through all of your customer touchpoints and internal touchpoints like meetings and company culture,” advised Nikitaidis. “That's how a brand can really go through the entire DNA of your organization.”

As your company evolves over time, you may find your brand foundation has shifted from its original starting point — and that’s OK.

“It’s never too late to build a brand foundation,” Humphries said. “It’s actually encouraged to revisit your brand foundation even once a year, because businesses are constantly evolving [and] customers are constantly evolving. It’s as relevant for a new business as it is for a business that’s established.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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