When you hear the word branding, what do you think of? Big businesses? Market positioning? Becoming a household name? The truth is, branding is for all businesses, and it can be infused throughout every communication and touchpoint that intersects with your audience, including your marketing strategy. In today’s post, we’ll take a look at the role of small business branding in marketing planning and implementation.
Why You Need Branding
Branding is what makes your company recognizable, and that means it encompasses everything about who your business is and what it means to your current and potential customers. Small business branding isn’t just your logo, wordmark, or the design of your packaging. It includes the language you use in your emails, social media posts, and magazine ads, as well as the voice talent you use in your radio ads. It’s the way you handle customer service, as well as the reviews and testimonials people post online and the way your company responds to them. It’s also the values you embrace, and what your company does to participate in the causes and communities that are important to your customers.
Everything your business does can impact brand perception, and that’s what makes it so powerful. Done well, branding is a boon that keeps your company top of mind when customers are looking for information or are ready to make a purchase. By the same token, if it’s done poorly, it can have severe impacts on long-term results.
Why You Need a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan gives you the opportunity to approach your marketing and advertising strategically over the course of the year. You can coordinate campaigns, balance message frequency across channels, and maximize your influence across touchpoints on the customer’s journey. This provides guidance that keeps your message consistent, on track, and on budget, and it gives you a framework for developing goals and generating new ideas. It also gives your company momentum while saving time and money, and most importantly, reduces stress from constantly trying to juggle your marketing with the rest of your business.
How Branding and a Marketing Plan Work Together
It should be clear at this point that branding is part of your marketing whether you plan for it or not. However, as we mentioned, your branding needs to be well managed in order for your business to succeed. Some elements will be controlled in the process of running a good business — after all, you should be providing top notch customer service already. But, in large part, your marketing is where your branding will be expressed the most.
Your marketing plan is the perfect opportunity to intentionally strategize your branding efforts. Build your brand with consistent imagery, audio, tone, and messages across campaigns and channels. Your marketing goals should serve your business and branding goals. This will strengthen your action campaigns — branding improves consumer trust and recall, improving the likelihood of following through on your CTAs. Part of your marketing strategy can also be directed specifically at developing your brand through awareness campaigns, which can educate your audience about your solutions, values, and much more.
Assess Your Current Strategy
Now is the perfect time to assess your strategy to determine if you’ve taken branding into account, what you’re doing well, and what needs to be adjusted. The tips below will help you see how branding should be implemented through your marketing.
- If you don’t have one, create a unique and memorable logo and wordmark. This is a simple element that can appear in various places, from direct mail to your social media avatar, and directly links to your company.
- Be sure you’ve got a standards and style guide. This will determine everything from purpose and tone to color choices, fonts, and themes. This guide should define brand expression throughout your business and in every customer-facing communication, which provides consistency.
- Review your website and ensure the standards and style guide has been applied to it. As the digital face of your company and a premier source of information, branding here is essential.
- Determine if you have any campaigns intended to raise brand awareness or perception. If not, examine your calendar and your budget to determine if and how such a campaign could be implemented.
- Review your action campaigns to ensure they adhere to your standards and style guide. If they don’t, review why those choices were made and what changes would be necessary to align those campaigns with your guide.
- Observe campaigns while they run and analyze their results, especially trending impacts. This will indicate if you’re branding is successful, or if further adjustments should be made. Remember that good branding should bring in more of the right kind of customer.
Branding is critical to your business’ success and needs to be implemented throughout your marketing strategy. Use our tips above to review your current marketing strategy and add or strengthen branding elements in both awareness and action campaigns. Be sure to find more insights in our free tactical guide: 5 Things That Impact Your Branding and What You Can Do About It.