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This is a guest post by Sandra Faleris of SmBizWinningTips. 

To most small business owners, branding seems more fit for multi-national corporations. Yet many don’t realize that branding, in some ways, is even more important for small businesses which are constantly trying to one-up the competition.

Even if you own, for example, a local corner convenience store that doesn’t seem to inspire any kind of grand marketing gesture, there are ways of branding that will entice customers to spend in your store versus the convenience store down the street.

Branding is more than having a business with a unique name or a restaurant that serves your grandmother’s favorite recipes. Branding encompasses everything in your business, from the way your employees treat your customers, to the bags that hold the purchased products.

5 Branding Tips for Small Businesses

  1. Prepare a one-page Mission Statement: This is an important document that will set the stage for how you do business. Make sure it highlights the elements that sets your business apart from your competitors and how that will engage your customers.
  2. Create Company Identity Standards: Expensive logos are not considered an important element to the small business brand. Yet it’s important to create a visual theme that includes how the company name is graphically configured (fonts, color scheme, images). These “standards” should be used as a base structure for all branding/marketing material that is to follow (i.e. brochures, promotional materials, etc.).
  3. Slogans/Themes: “Expect more, pay less” is Target’s slogan. In a few words, it communicates the company’s position versus their competitors. Yes, K-Mart could have said the same thing. But Target did it first and best. So differentiating your business also includes how you want to “position” it in the minds of the consumer against your competitors. Slogans/themes can be a great asset in branding, as long as your business “delivers” the promise, each and every time. Consider adding a slogan or theme to your company identity standards. Then include it in everything from the way the phones are answered to the close of the sale.
  4. Websites: While logos are no longer the all-important differentiating factor of a brand, websites are the future.  Even if your business is not an online e-commerce site, design a website that encompasses your company standards. If you are afraid that developing a website is too expensive, think again. There are software programs, online developers and outsourcing companies that can create your website for less than $500, and that includes web hosting.
  5. Say-do: This is something small businesses tend to forget and is a key point in branding. What your slogan, promotion or sales people tell your customers must come true. Consumers are reluctant to work with small businesses that say one thing and do another. It creates frustration, negative feelings and bad word-of-mouth. There is nothing worse than inconsistency and failure to deliver on the promise.

Evaluate your branding strategy every few months. Your customers are the ones who will test its efficacy. Alter as needed, but don’t start from scratch unless you have the budget to revise everything.

These 5 easy steps can make a world of difference in how your business is viewed. You can turn your “Mom and Pop Shop” into a growing contender for having the top brand and a growing piece of the market share with little effort and a great deal of forethought.