As a small business, you’re looking to carve out a unique niche in your target market. You want your brand to pop into potential customers’ minds whenever they think about the product or service you provide.
To accomplish this, you need to intentionally and carefully build your brand image, both online and in your local community. Try these four strategies to build your brand identity and recognition within your community and your target market.
1. Figure our what your brand looks like
Give yourself a firm foundation: your logo, colors, website, and promotional materials need to present a coherent face to the world and tell people who you are.
Your brand’s style can be whimsical or serious, colorful or conservative. But whatever voice and tone you choose, communicate your brand’s “personality” through your design. Choose colors and designs for your logo, website, and promotional materials that reflect the mood you want to convey. Use colors consistently—in addition to using them on your website and in your logo, use them on your promotional swag, bring them into the décor of your shop, and try to carry them through to the images or graphics that adorn your company’s social media profiles.
When people see these colors and your logo, you want them to think of you. The next strategies will help make sure people see your logo and your presence in the right places.
2. Engage with your local community
You’re unlikely to vanquish the large national brands that may offer competing products or services. That’s why you need to provide local customers good reasons to use your business instead of a cheaper big-box alternative. Use your local connections to your advantage!
Support local organizations
Think broadly; there’s bound to be a sponsorship opportunity that works for your budget, fits your product or service, and can connect you with members of your target audience. A few places to start:
Sponsorship opportunities often include placing your logo on event banners, t-shirts, mailers, websites, and more. This associates your brand with a group, organization, or event that is doing good and engaging locally.
Entice people to your storefront or office
Go above and beyond your regular daily operations with special events to mark a holiday, launch a new product or service, or introduce a new employee—put your creativity to work to come up with fun reasons to host a special event.
Invite regular customers, perhaps offering a special evening program with refreshments and special deals. Advertise the event locally to attract new customers. Give people a reason to stop by and check out your business.
Take advantage of your local media
Local weekly newspapers, whether distributed free or by subscription, can be cost-effective places to advertise. In addition, you can submit press releases to these smaller publications announcing new members of your team, with short profiles, or new services and products you’re offering. The local connection is likely to get you some ink, while emphasizing your local impact and generating good will in the community. All while putting your name and brand in front of potential customers.
3. Engage with your virtual community
Do you provide goods or services that people can use or purchase online? Even small local businesses benefit from an attractive, up-to-date website. Your online presence is a treasure trove of brand boosting opportunities.
Blogs and resources
Launch a blog that provides useful information and resources related to your business area. Readers will return to your website when they have a question—and they will associate your brand with helpful, relevant information. Promote your blog posts on social media for wider exposure.
Use social media to engage directly
Post regularly on social media platforms that attract members of your target audience, whether that’s Instagram, LinkedIn, or TikTok. A weekly quiz or contest can entice people to return to your website or social media pages frequently. Hosting periodic chats or “Ask Me Anything” sessions lets you share your knowledge and introduce yourself to your online community.
Merge local and virtual community building
Local social media hubs combine virtual brand boosting with your local ties. Advertise, offer special deals, or post useful information on hyperlocal sites like Nextdoor or Patch; host a Meetup; or advertise on Waze to reach local customers and find new customers. Don’t neglect locally-focused Facebook groups—these are great places to engage with current and future customers, share local products or services, and even share your knowledge in short posts.
4.Leverage customer loyalty
Building relationships with customers deepens their loyalty—and can turn them into your best brand ambassadors. Offer loyalty perks, provide top-notch customer service by remembering their favorite products or adding a little something to their order, and always let them know how much you appreciate them. They’ll respond by giving you glowing reviews and recommending you to their friends and neighbors.
Build with brand consistency
Building your brand and creating awareness and a local community of customers won’t happen overnight. When planning your branding and outreach campaigns, plan a long-term strategy and stick with it. The deeper you sink your roots into your community, the greater the long-term payoff is likely to be. Good luck!
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Dawn Ferullo, CEO