When it comes to branding your small business, you may not have the budget that a large corporation does, but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop perfectly effective strategies for doing so. In some ways, smaller businesses have an advantage in that they can tweak things or make small changes that can make a big difference faster and more efficiently. Having a website in particular is crucial for small businesses, but just having one is not enough. You have to have the right website for your small business. Here are 10 things to keep in mind when branding your small business or designing your website.
1. You are not selling a product or service, you are selling yourself
Your best clients and customers are always going to be people that share similar tastes, interests and values to you. Apple is infamous for its almost religious adherence to a very specific aesthetic, which they have adhered to for decades. Even their proprietary software offers far less customization options than their competitors. Apple was also founded by a man that spent years wearing jeans and a plain black turtleneck almost every single day. Small business branding is generally far more about communicating who you are than the product or service that you offer. After all, you are the person selling the product or service.
2. Your website should accurately reflect your brand
Everything from the font that you choose to the images you use for your small business website design should be relentlessly communicating who you are. If you are an avid amateur athlete that sells essential oils, your website should not have a strong “zen-like” aesthetic and be full of Eastern images, unless you also happen to be obsessed with Eastern culture. If you are an amateur athlete, then your best clients and customers will also most likely be fellow athletes that you can offer expert advice to on which products they might use for their specific needs. Which you will be able to offer because you most likely have similar needs and use the products in much the same way.
3. Keep it simple… but not too simple
When it comes to small business website design, people often err too far to one side or the other. They either build a complicated site filled with flash graphics and other elements that make it hard to load or navigate or they make it so simple it doesn’t give quite enough information about who you are, what you do and whether or not you offer the products or services people are looking for. A website needs to contain more information than what you might offer on a business card, but not so much information it overwhelms people.
4. Your website design should be visually pleasing
This seems like it should really be a no-brainer and yet the internet is filled with gaudy digital catastrophes that are generally just painful to look at. Find a good web designer with a portfolio of visually pleasing websites and trust what they tell you.
5. People should know in a glance who you are and what you do
People should be able to tell the second they land on your page what product or service you offer. First impressions matter. If you want to test how well you are communicating in one glance what product or service you are offering, get a child or teenager who isn’t familiar with what you do to look at the home page of your website for about 3 seconds. Then ask them to tell you what your business or company does. If they can’t tell you, chances are good anyone else visiting your site will not be able to either.
6. Provide great content
If you ever want to make it to the top of search engine listings, you have to have people actually visiting your site – and staying there for a while. When you provide great content, you make your website the go-to source for information about your industry. No matter what you sell or what kind of service you offer, you can actually benefit from educating your clients and consumers about your products or even what it is you do. Whether you offer a video series, a blog or even a number of helpful infographics (or all of the above), establishing yourself as an expert in your field by way of educating your clients and consumers will go a long way towards building a good client and consumer base.
7. Tell people who you are and what you stand for
While people should know at one glance what product or service you are selling and something about your brand, you need to also go deeper. You should have one page that it dedicated to communicating your brand. This can be your mission statement, vision and values, a bit about yourself or the history of your company or all of the above. It shouldn’t be too complicated or too in-depth and you need to make sure you are genuinely living up to what you communicate, but overall, people generally want to know a bit more about the businesses they engage with than just what they sell or offer.
8. Use social media. Avidly.
While you don’t have to maintain an active presence on all social media platforms, you should be active on one or two that fit in best with your brand. Be sure and post links to any articles, infographics or videos on your social media pages or accounts and offer links on your website to your social media accounts and pages. The point of social media for business owners is to drive traffic to your website and the more traffic you have on your social media pages, the more traffic it will pull to your website. Social media is possibly one of the most critical tools for all small business branding.
9. Remember branding is not just digital
Remember that you are your brand and your brand is not just about your online presence. Every interaction you or your employees have with a customer, consumer or even the community is communicating your brand in either a positive or negative way. This is why it is also important to actually get out of your business location and go engage with your community. Whether you go out and give out free samples at a community event, participate on a community board of some kind or sponsor a little league team, small business branding should always extend further than the internet.
10. Assemble a great team
From graphic artists to web designers to content writers, you need to assemble a team that can help you communicate your brand powerfully. The great news is that in the digital age, you don’t have to hire all these people. A thriving online marketplace allows small business owners to assemble a stellar virtual marketing teamthat can meet all of your marketing needs.