When asked to define marketing, many people think of advertising. They talk about how marketers use different tools to make money. Yet the job doesn’t stop there – marketing isn’t just about making money. It’s about spreading ideas. That’s why we’re going to teach you how to brand your small business.

First time marketing your small business?
We know marketing can be confusing. Download our free marketing checklist for advice.

What is Branding?

According to the American Marketing Association, “a brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”

That’s a good definition, but we’ll put it more simply: a brand is what people think of when they think of your small business. Branding, therefore, is the act of creating your company’s brand.

Whether or not you put any work into it, your business has a brand. When your customers talk about you, that is your brand. When they check your social media or call you on the phone, they are interacting with your brand. This is to say that you do not have total control over your brand.

However, you do have some control over how you brand your small business. You have a number of branding tools which you can use to influence how people perceive your company. We’ll name a few here.

Branding Tools

Formal statements: You can formally declare what your brand stands for and how it is positioned. While your formal statements won’t make it into your advertisements or customer interactions, they will be found in your employee handbook and business plans.

Advertisements: Every time you run an advertisement, it changes what people think about your company. That makes them a lead generation tool as well as a branding tool.

Sponsorships and partnerships: The people and companies you work with will say a lot about what your brand stands for.

Product and packaging design: People judge books by covers. In fact, people judge all products by their packaging, so this is another tool you can use to brand your business.

In-store experience or user experience: The feelings people have when they visit your store or website can be tweaked by how your business presents itself.

Work culture: Branding isn’t just external, though. How your employees feel about your company will be reflected to customers through their work and their customer interactions. If your work culture is a particularly negative or positive one, this will be reflected in branding.

Customer service: When customers reach out for customer service, your company often has an opportunity. Handle their issues well, and it’s good for branding. Handle them poorly, and it’s bad for branding.

Pricing and positioning: Finally, the way you price your product and the market you position yourself in will speak volumes about the nature of your business. We talk about that more in our Market Positioning post.

Why Branding Matters

At this point, one thing is clear: branding influences what people think about your business. There are many ways that people can form opinions about your business and there are many ways to sway those opinions.

You may think “branding is important because I want to sell stuff.” That’s definitely true, and good branding will make you money. However, reality is a good bit more nuanced than that. Indeed, thoughtful branding has a number of benefits.

First, branding is the face of your business. What people think about your business affects how you accomplish your larger goals. These goals can range from generating sales to making a positive impact on the world. No matter what, though, presentation counts.

People expect good branding. Good branding establishes credibility and trust. Bad branding makes people think your business is not serious or capable of meeting their needs.

Lastly, because good branding provides consistency and clarity needed to establish trust, you will see returns from this. Good branding can improve your advertising performance. It can also increase the conversion rate when people visit your store or website. Not only can you reach more people, but a higher percentage of them will buy from you if your branding is solid.

Start by Analyzing Your Business

The foundation of good branding comes from self-knowledge. That is to say, you need to analyze your business and answer a few questions first.

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • What do your customers need?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to find the right way to present yourself to current and prospective customers. You need to understand your company’s strengths and weaknesses, how it fits into a larger market, who your target audience is, and how you uniquely meet their needs.

Not sure where to start? Try describing your business in three words. Choose them carefully. Consider your mission and your values, as well as what you want the business to be known for.

If you’re having trouble visualizing your company’s purpose, consider it from the perspective of your buyers. Imagine your buyers as complete people with thoughts, feelings, and interests of their own. Make up characters if you need to. (This exercise is known as buyer personas).

What do you want them to say about you? Once you figure out the answer to this question, you can work backwards and figure out how to brand your business to give people the desired impression.

Don’t do this in isolation, though. Pay attention to what is working in your industry. Your messaging will be compared to others, and you need to have a unique market position so that your messaging is not lost in the din of the crowd.

First time marketing your small business?
We know marketing can be confusing. Download our free marketing checklist for advice.

How to Brand Your Small Business: First Steps

Now that we’ve talked about the basics of branding, we can talk about specific first steps you can take.

First, review the questions above and start writing down your brand qualities. Having your thoughts written down will make this considerably easier.

Next, define what you want your company to be. To make this simpler, I like to refer to Carl Jung’s 12 personality archetypes. He was a very famous psychologist and thinker who believed that symbolism made it easier to understand complicated concepts. It’s no wonder, then, that marketers have applied his theory to branding.

The 12 Brand Archetypes

According to Ovo, there are 12 brand archetypes based on Jung’s ideas. We quote them directly below:

  • The Innocent: Exhibits happiness, goodness, optimism, safety, romance, and youth. Example brands include: Coca-Cola, Nintendo Wii, Dove
  • The Everyman: Seeks connections and belonging; is recognized as supportive, faithful and down-to-earth. Example brands include: IKEA, Home Depot, eBay
  • The Hero: On a mission to make the world a better place, the Hero is courageous, bold, inspirational. Example brands include: Nike, BMW, Duracell
  • The Rebel: Questions authority and breaks the rules; the Rebel craves rebellion and revolution. Example brands include: Virgin, Harley-Davidson, Diesel (jeans)
  • The Explorer: Finds inspiration in travel, risk, discovery, and the thrill of new experiences. Example brands include: Jeep, Red Bull, REI
  • The Creator: Imaginative, inventive and driven to build things of enduring meaning and value. Example brands include: Lego, Crayola, Adobe
  • The Ruler: Creates order from the chaos, the Ruler is typically controlling and stern, yet responsible and organized. Example brands include: Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, British Airways
  • The Magician: Wishes to create something special and make dreams a reality, the Magician is seen as visionary and spiritual. Example brands include: Apple, Disney, Absolut
  • The Lover: Creates intimate moments, inspires love, passion, romance and commitment. Example brands include: Victoria’s Secret, Chanel, Haagen Dazs
  • The Caregiver: Protects and cares for others, is compassionate, nurturing and generous. Example brands include: Johnson & Johnson, Campbell’s Soup, UNICEF
  • The Jester: Brings joy to the world through humor, fun, irreverence and often likes to make some mischief. Example brands include: Old Spice, Ben & Jerry’s, M&Ms
  • The Sage: Committed to helping the world gain deeper insight and wisdom, the Sage serves as the thoughtful mentor or advisor. Example brands include: Google, PBS, Philips

Pick the archetype that most closely matches your vision for your business.

Specific Ways to Communicate Your Brand’s Archetype & Purpose

Once you pick an archetype that matches your intent, it’s time to decide how to express that intent. Being organized helps, and for that, we recommend you create a brand style guide. It’s basically a list of rules that you will follow so that your branding is consistent.

Find a brand “voice” that will be used in your marketing materials and written communication. This voice should reinforce your intent and archetype.

Create a logo that expresses what your company’s purpose is. Logo design is really complex, so you can read more about that here.

Come up with a slogan that matches the voice and succinctly describes what your company intends to do.

Once you have all this done, you can then create a website, business cards, and document templates.

After you do all this, your company should be off to a good start. But remember: branding is not a “one and done” matter. The most important rule of branding is to be consistent. Once you have a brand voice, stick to it and keep sticking to it!

How to Brand Your Small Business: Setting Yourself Apart in the Long Run

After you have established how you would like to brand your business, there are some harder steps that you can take to really cement your brand’s identity. Here are four suggestions:

  1. Become a subject matter expert. Brand building is about trust building. Nothing builds trust quite like expertise. Focus on making your business extraordinarily good at its core competencies and consider content marketing as well. Content marketing provides a wonderful opportunity to be seen as an expert.
  2. Find like-minded partners. Once you know what your brand stands for, reach out to other companies and work with them. Building partnerships has a number of business benefits, among them the ability to build a better brand.
  3. Leverage customer experiences. Your happy customers are your greatest brand ambassadors. Ask them to share their experiences with others.
  4. Perfect your customer service. Brands are made and broken by customer service. Even angry customers can often be soothed and end up liking your brand better if you take good care of them.

Final Thoughts

We hope these tips help you to brand your small business. Remember: branding is all about figuring out what your company stands for and how to communicate it. Self-awareness and consistency are key!

First time marketing your small business?
We know marketing can be confusing. Download our free marketing checklist for advice.

50 Comments

Michael DeFren · June 29, 2020 at 10:00 am

thanks for the great info, i love how you keep to a similar theme

Tars shippee · June 29, 2020 at 10:02 am

Very informative

Maria Teresa Fernandez Ferreira · June 29, 2020 at 11:27 am

thanks for the information, there is always something new to learn

    Esco Garcia · June 29, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    Muchas gracias por esta información.

      Emina · July 15, 2020 at 11:05 am

      I love the 12 archetype brand breakup it allows user to classify themselves under one or more brackets

Paulo Oliveira · June 29, 2020 at 4:11 pm

Very useful information, some things I already knew, others I learned …

Michael Christofield · June 29, 2020 at 6:54 pm

Great info. Thanks!

Yasmin Mukhi · June 30, 2020 at 5:12 am

Initially in first stage of marketing keep the price of product low & competitive to gain customers floating.

terry murphy · June 30, 2020 at 7:52 am

Great information thank you

Chetan Kona Yerukunondu · June 30, 2020 at 9:16 am

Great informative article! That part about customer service is so true, especially today.

Spiros · June 30, 2020 at 12:14 pm

If you can handle your business you can make great things

Melissa Alvarado · June 30, 2020 at 7:26 pm

Thank you, great article and info

Jennylyn Gross · July 1, 2020 at 11:31 pm

Thanks for the info

Liz Kilcher · July 2, 2020 at 10:00 am

thanks for the info

    Crystal Bean · July 3, 2020 at 8:35 am

    This is great information for any business to help with their marketing.

LucidBread · July 2, 2020 at 1:05 pm

Absolutely precise and informative especially for startup initiators. Thank you very much for the writeup.

Lula Ruger · July 2, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Could and would you recommend using a form of this for an at home buisness like selling on Mercari E bay etc ?

    Brandon Rollins · July 7, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Yes! In fact, branding is often really important when you’re using a marketplace like eBay, Etsy, Amazon, etc. Even little things like packaging can make a big difference in whether people remember you and buy from you again.

Ruslan Sokolov · July 2, 2020 at 11:58 pm

Very interesting. This information is very helpful to those who want to start a new business.

    Emina · July 15, 2020 at 11:13 am

    The breakdown of brand tools and archetype allows people who are beginners in the business field to be prepared and stay informed of the procedure that make up the foundation of business ex marketing, sponsorship, work culture and etc. Moreover self knowledge question that are displayed here is an excellent way for an individual to evaluate themselves and what they want as a business owner moreover it guides them into the right direction of their desired goals. Lastly tips on how to brand yourself as business in the long run is a must. I have personally witnessed many business owners give up without seeing immediate success or result which downplay their entire work ethic . Following these tip on how to brand in the long run will ensure businesses to seek growth and success over a period of time.

McKnight · July 3, 2020 at 4:53 am

Looks like some pretty solid advice, but to be honest those pictures are not good.

    Brandon Rollins · July 7, 2020 at 9:02 am

    This is refreshingly honest and straightforward feedback. I’m actually putting together some brand guidelines for our own company. Part of that will include guidelines on photos for blog posts.

    Thank you!

Deepak S · July 3, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Thanks for relevant information

sachin jankar · July 4, 2020 at 8:19 am

Very useful information about branding
Thank you

sachin jankar · July 4, 2020 at 8:19 am

Nice information about branding

Aubrey Daniels · July 5, 2020 at 2:12 pm

Great information. Thanks for sharing

Kakhaber Khmelidze · July 5, 2020 at 4:10 pm

Thanks for the info. It was interesting.

Hemant Gupta · July 6, 2020 at 4:36 am

Hi Pangea Marketing.
This article truly helped me a lot. It was really informative and I especially loved the part about the 12 Brand Archetypes.
This provides a great outline for small businesses in the long run too.
Thank you.

Richard Hicks · July 7, 2020 at 7:18 am

Branding is so very important. Look at how the big guys do it!

Susan Parent · July 8, 2020 at 7:27 am

Very interested and very informative.

Javier Vallejo · July 8, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Great info, thanks

Sultan Mohammad · July 9, 2020 at 4:07 am

Really amazing website, i learned lots of things about marketing. Thank you team

Mansi · July 9, 2020 at 6:57 am

Best marketing strategies. The fav part was the example of magician.

Mansi · July 9, 2020 at 6:59 am

Marketing isn’t just about making money. Cool info about branding, advertising and ways and startegies to the same. They have given very good examples to explain them

Mansi · July 9, 2020 at 7:01 am

Marketing isn’t just about making money. Best way of explaining branding advertising and the strategies for the same. Most important is how to be consistent in doing the same.

Paulo Oliveira · July 13, 2020 at 9:26 am

Very good and useful this article

Maria Teresa Fernandez Ferreira · July 13, 2020 at 10:04 am

Excellent and very useful

Andre Mendes · July 13, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Amazing article. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Linda A · July 13, 2020 at 6:18 pm

Any idea for Rapid test branding?

RAJESH BANRA · July 13, 2020 at 11:42 pm

Well explained about marketing

Liz Kilcher · July 14, 2020 at 9:40 am

great info!!

Sunita katyal · July 15, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Very informative article and got several new things to learn about branding

Lavanya · July 15, 2020 at 2:10 pm

Love the breakdown here , very informative

A.S · July 15, 2020 at 4:26 pm

We’ve all heard how important branding is but never how to approach it practically so I appreciate this a lot

Ritu · July 16, 2020 at 3:59 am

A nice and informative article about branding and is very well explained

farook najeeb · July 16, 2020 at 4:34 am

i love this thank you

Kristin · July 16, 2020 at 8:58 pm

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing with me!!

Vikram Singh · July 19, 2020 at 7:35 pm

Really insightful advice; I have been fortunate to have had the chance to dabble in Marketing/Branding as a Masters level, but still never came across the Archetypes you’ve spoken of above, quite a fascinating and horizon-broadening read to be honest.

Also, you did mention a key point about the in-store experiences part; I feel it plays a bigger role: leading academic research has shown consumers only taking the initial 45-60 seconds to frame an opinion, and subsequently converting their attitude of buying, to the actual act of purchasing. The in-store part, accordingly, in my opinion needs to be elaborated upon a tiny bit more; notwithstanding, a well written and significantly informational piece!

    Brandon Rollins · July 22, 2020 at 9:23 am

    Glad you liked the article! The Archetypes idea, as unprovable as it may be from a purely empirical standpoint, is really, really good at describing the basic styles and attitudes that brands can embody. I’ve yet to find anything that can top it.

    I agree with you that it would be a good idea for us to revisit this post and talk about branding for in-store experiences. You’re absolutely right that people don’t spend long at all before forming an opinion about a place, even if they go out of their way to visit it!

Margaret Gallagher · July 23, 2020 at 2:49 am

In these testing times its vital to market correctly – many thanks for your concise and interesting revieww

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